Plans to build new pickle ball courts at Chianese Park are completed, officials said, and the project will be put out to bid soon. But while plans to construct the permanent pickle ball courts are …
Plans to build new pickle ball courts at Chianese Park are completed, officials said, and the project will be put out to bid soon. But while plans to construct the permanent pickle ball courts are progressing, the town appears to be mired in a dispute over whether children should be allowed to use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures on the current pickle ball courts at Chianese.
For months, pickle-ballers have been complaining to town officials about the situation at Chianese. The pickle ball enthusiasts say the chalk markings on the courts make it hard to see the boundary lines and also create unsafe playing conditions.
Some members of the Commission seemed frustrated with the discussion.
“I can’t believe we’re talking about kids chalking,” said Commission member Thomas “TR” Rimoshytus.
Cat Horn asked if the town could set aside a separate space for children who want to use chalk at Chianese Park, but others cautioned, saying that it was a public park and it is difficult to limit uses for the public spaces.
Horn countered, stating that the town was making a significant investment in Chianese. She also offered a comparison: If people were playing golf on an athletic field in town, it would impact the playing surface.
Horn said the town needs to address the issue.
Commission member Fletch Thomson wondered if those using the chalk could be directed to instead draw on the lacrosse practice wall, which is also located at Chianese Park.
Rimoshytus has suggested a graffiti park at Chianese. He said it might be a good idea to hold a public event with members of the Commission using the new graffiti park to encourage people to steer clear from marking other areas at the park.
Bram Berkowitz lives near Chianese Park. Berkowitz, who previously referred to pickle ball enthusiasts as an invasive species, questioned the claims that chalking on the courts created an unsafe environment. He asked if anyone had ever filed a claim against the town because of chalk-related issue at a pickle ball court. Berkowitz asked if there had ever been a single incident reported.
Commission Chairman Mike Seward said he heard some people have slipped in the past.
Berkowitz reminded Seward that an earlier check with the town’s insurer showed that the company had no problem with people chalking on the courts.
Berkowitz questioned whether this group of pickle ball players needed to have their own group insurance before using the town court. A Commission member agreed that the pickle ballers appeared to be very well organized.
Seward remained steadfast in his call for a sign at the Chianese court, requesting people only use chalk on the basketball court. The Commission voted unanimously in support of the signs.
The new pickle ball courts at Chianese Park are expected to cost about $100,000. The town has secured an $80,000 recreation grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The local match is expected to be $20,000.