Vienna Town Council urges Fairfax County to develop more pickleball courts

The tennis and pickleball courts at Glyndon Park in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

As frustrations persist over the pickleball courts at Glyndon Park, the Vienna Town Council has resorted to appealing to Fairfax County for assistance.

The council voted on June 19 to send the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors a letter asking them to identify potential sites for pickleball near the town, whose only existing facilities — the four courts at Glyndon — have been plagued by noise complaints from neighbors.

“We are asking you to help Fairfax County residents have more options of locations to play pickleball with longer hours,” Mayor Linda Colbert and the town council said in the draft letter. “The county owns facilities near the town that could be used for pickleball. Because of their relative distance from residential neighborhoods, several of those facilities are far better suited to use for pickleball than Town of Vienna owned property.”

Earlier this year, the town reduced the hours when pickleball was permitted at Glyndon Park (300 Glyndon Street) in an effort to alleviate tensions between neighboring residents and local players.

Under the new policy, set open play hours were eliminated, and a reservation system was implemented for players who live in Vienna. The town is also encouraging players to use quieter paddles.

Since the policy took effect on March 1, the Vienna Police Department has received 18 noise complaints about pickleball being played outside the designated hours, Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman reported at a June 5 town council meeting.

Seven of those complaints were determined to be unfounded, and 10 resulted in police issuing a warning. At least four complaints have been made to police since that meeting, according to the VPD’s weekly recaps.

Despite those complaints, residents told town staff that the situation has been more tolerable this spring, and most regular court users seem to be abiding by the rules. The ongoing issues appear to stem from non-regular users who “either ignore the posted rules or do not know the rules,” Herman said.

“The residents feel that the limited number of people due to no open play is a big factor that is helping them tolerate pickleball play,” Herman said. “There is a concern that allowing open play will generate additional noise as the number of players will increase. The issue is not from the ball, but from the amount of people congregating.”

Based on 48 random visits to the park, town staff observed up to 18 people on the courts at one time, but that could increase if open play was encouraged, particularly with the warmer summer weather bringing more people outside, according to Herman.

The Vienna Pickleball Club had requested a return of designated open play hours when anyone can show up and use the courts, reporting some confusion around the reservation system and concerns that newer players are being left out.

From March 1 through May 20, the courts were reserved approximately 37% of the available pickleball times, Herman reported.

While the council agreed to keep the new hours, Councilmember Chuck Anderson suggested contacting the county about adding more pickleball facilities in the area, such as at Nottoway Park or even James Madison High School.

“Given the fact that we as Vienna residents pay 100% of Fairfax County property taxes and given the fact that a number of non-Vienna residents play pickleball in Vienna, I think that we certainly on strong moral grounds for asking the county to help us out on this issue, which helps them out too, because these are Fairfax County residents who want to play pickleball,” Anderson said.

The pickleball-lined courts closest to Vienna are at the Providence Rec Center in West Falls Church and Westgate Park in Tysons, according to the county’s park locator.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is designing a conversion of one tennis court at Cunningham Park into a shared-use court to accommodate pickleball, according to its website.

“We do not yet have a detailed schedule for the Cunningham Park pickleball improvements other than it is to occur during fiscal year 2024” from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024, FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer said.

The county isn’t planning right now to add pickleball at Nottoway, but that “does not preclude improvements at the park at a future time,” Boxer said.

At last week’s council meeting, Colbert said she had already discussed the town’s request with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who suggested adding “some data points” to the proposed letter.

“Other than that, we had a very good, positive conversation,” she said.

According to the Town of Vienna, the letter hasn’t been sent to the Board of Supervisors yet, but Colbert is expected to finalize it later this week.