In response to concerns about noise, Reston Association has scaled back plans for pickleball courts at Barton Hill.
At a Sept. 6 community meeting, staff said they reduced the number of pickleball courts planned for the facility at 1901 Barton Hill Road from six to four and removed blended lines between tennis courts that allowed both tennis and pickleball uses.
The move was in response to concerns about increased noise from the pickleball facilities, according to Chris Schumaker, RA’s capital projects director.
RA conducted two types of noise studies on June 1 — one for continuous noise and one for instantaneous noise. In both cases, RA found that the average noise levels — measured in weighted decibels (dBAs) — were below the limits enforced by Fairfax County’s noise ordinance.
The average for continuous noise was 54 dBA, and the average for instantaneous or impulse noise was 57 dBA.
Staff also plan to install a sound attenuation product called Acoustiblok, a technology that could reduce decibels by 25 and 30 units.
“We feel pretty confident that we can mitigate the noise at Barton Hill,” RA Chief Operating Officer Peter Lusk said.
According to Schumaker, RA has submitted a request for the Virginia Department of Transportation to install a crosswalk over Barton Hill Road at the Sunrise Valley Drive intersection to address safety concerns.
The request was bolstered by a May 20 traffic study that found a high number of pedestrians using the crosswalk.
Staff also said that pickleball and soccer events could be staggered to limit impacts on the street.
RA’s Board of Directors will consider the project at its Sept. 28 meeting. The project will then go to the Design Review Board for review and approval, likely in November.
A contractor would be selected in February or March, depending on the board’s input. The contract will then head to the board for final approval after that point.
At the meeting, residents’ feedback fell on both sides of the fence. As pickleball has grown in popularity, concerns about the noisiness of the sport have mounted nationwide.
Laura David, who serves on the board of Reston’s Harpers Square Cluster, noted that the noise study took the average noise level from the center court and not from the boundary. She said that neighboring residents remain concerned about high levels of noise from the whacking of pickleballs.
“Sound still continues to be a major concern,” David said.
Others said RA should continue to support pickleball and asked for the original number of planned pickleball courts to be restored.
“There’s a shortage of [facilities]. There’s a real shortage,” said Reston resident Carol Dickey.
Some questioned if it made sense for RA to invest money in the project if it yielded only four pickleball courts.
“You’re talking like it’s something bad. It’s not,” said Carol Shepherd, a Reston resident of 46 years and a pickleball player.
Photo via Joan Azeka/Unsplash
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