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The Barton Hill tennis courts in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10:30 a.m. on 2/6/2024) After more than a year of impassioned and often acrimonious public testimony, Reston Association will drop plans for pickleball courts as part of the renovation of Barton Hill’s tennis courts.

At a meeting on Jan. 25, the RA Board of Directors voted to remove pickleball courts from the scope of the renovation, which had inspired passionate testimony from both pickleball lovers and neighboring residents concerned about safety, security, parking and the noise associated with the burgeoning sport.

Board director Jennifer Jushchuk, who proposed removing pickleball from the renovation, said she was impressed by the level of public engagement on the proposal.

“I feel like we’ve pitted members against members, and I don’t think that was ever the intention of the board that approved it,” she said, adding that she hopes RA can determine the scope of pickleball needs in the community.

“I just don’t think we got there with Barton Hill,” Jushchuk said.

Most board members said they were concerned about the disproportionate impact of pickleball on the surrounding community.

“I have to be sympathetic to the needs of the people who actually live in the community,” said director Travis Johnson.

Some of that debate continued at the Jan. 25 board meeting.

Residents like Laura David, who lives on Harper Square Court, pressed the board to look for more appropriate places for pickleball that wouldn’t disturb neighboring communities with noise.

“Let’s think outside of the original box we all had, which was to look at Barton Hill,” David said.

Others like Hayes McCarty, a Reston resident for more than 50 years, said RA’s board should take into account noise studies it commissioned that found average noise levels created by pickleball fall below limits enforced by Fairfax County’s noise ordinance.

“The association paid a lot of money for these studies. These people are experts, and I think we have to listen to what they have to say,” McCarty said.

As the plan moved through approval process, RA scaled back plans for pickleball at the facility, which currently consists of four unlit tennis courts built in 1985 at 1901 Barton Hill Road.

Last September, RA reduced its plan for the facility from six to four dedicated pickleball courts and two dedicated tennis courts, removing blended lines that would have allowed both tennis and pickleball uses. Now, all of the courts will be for tennis.

Some board members were dismayed with how the decision was rolled out.

Board director Margaret Perry said she wants RA to brainstorm alternatives for other pickleball locations before voting against its inclusion in Barton Hill. Her motion to delay the vote to the board’s March meeting did not gain traction, and she ultimately voted against removing pickleball from the project.

(Correction: This story initially said Margaret Perry voted for removing pickleball.)

Board president John Farrell said he was particularly concerned with how some board members justified nixing pickleball, noting that neighboring residents often have concerns about the addition of any new facility or program to the community.

“No way in hell am I going to give the neighbors a veto over serving the other 63,000 people [in Reston] and I’m disturbed that I heard some of my colleagues suggest that that’s the fundamental analysis,” Farrell said. “I hope that’s not the case.”

Pickleball Club of Tysons founders Marc Greenberg and Tarlika Amin announce that the indoor, six-court facility will open in spring 2024 (via Pickleball Club of Tysons/YouTube)

Construction is underway to convert a warehouse in Tysons into an indoor pickleball facility.

The Pickleball Club of Tysons is now accepting membership reservations on its website after receiving the necessary approvals from Fairfax County to begin work at 8520 Tyco Road last week, according to co-owner Alesya Semukha-Greenberg.

With construction expected to finish this spring, the business is currently aiming for an April 1 grand opening.

“I’m most looking forward to [the club] being full all the time and getting the right person to run it and making everyone happy,” Pickleball Club of Tysons co-founder and CEO Marc Greenberg told FFXnow.

Located in an industrial park just southeast of the Route 7 and Dulles Access Road interchange, the recreational facility will feature six dedicated pickleball courts available for lessons, open play, competitive leagues and other events.

Like many other players, Greenberg developed an enthusiasm for pickleball during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a surge of interest in the half-century-old sport. He was introduced to the racket-based pasttime about a year and a half ago by fellow Pickleball Club of Tysons founder and chief operating officer Tarlika Amin, who raised the idea of opening her own club to address a lack of indoor courts in the area.

“There really is nowhere to play during the winter time,” Greenberg said. “In fact, the only people sort of creating courts are the counties and the country clubs, so those are two opposite ends of the spectrum. The county’s are public courts, and they’re good, but they’re outdoors and there’s a lot of noise issues, and the country clubs are very expensive and they take away from tennis courts. So, there are very few middle market clubs and that’s where I thought we could make a difference.”

As a real estate agent who lives in McLean, Greenberg agreed to help identify possible locations, and he immediately focused in on Tysons, though he ultimately looked across Northern Virginia, particularly inside the Capital Beltway (I-495).

“Tysons was my number-one choice,” he said. “The odds weren’t great, but then I found this space and the size was right, and most importantly, the column spacing was right so that we could put the courts in.”

The space presented some challenges. The club needed to get a special permit from the county to allow the pickleball courts, and since the warehouse only had heating, not air-conditioning, new HVAC units have to be installed — the project’s biggest expense.

Still, the industrial setting has benefits as well, saving the facility from the concerns about noise that have turned many residential neighborhoods against outdoor pickleball courts.

“There won’t be a noise issue on the outside because it’s 6-inch cinder block on the outside of the warehouse,” Greenberg said, acknowledging that indoor noise levels might still be a challenge.

While the Fairfax County Park Authority continues to add outdoor courts, the Pickleball Club of Tysons will eventually have some company in meeting the demand for indoor facilities. The new business Down the Line Sports Center will open two locations this year: a 10,000-square-foot facility in Fairfax City and a 50,000-square-foot, 18-court complex in Annandale.

Greenberg says it’s “great” to see that other facilities are in the works, since he believes “the demand is there.” The Pickleball Club of Tysons team hopes to expand to other locations in the future, but right now, they’re focused on making sure the Tyco Road one works.

Finding the right site is the biggest challenge to building indoor pickleball courts, according to Greenberg.

“You have the appropriate column spacing and you have the appropriate parking and the ceiling height,” he said. “So, you know, I think you can have a dozen of these in Fairfax County, but the land and the real estate is really not conducive to it, so it’s hard to do.”

Screenshot via Pickleball Club of Tysons/YouTube

Reston Association has scaled back its plan for pickleball at Barton Hill (via RA)

Reston Association’s Board of Directors deferred a decision last week on how to handle the planned addition of pickleball at Barton Hill’s tennis courts to Jan. 25.

The decision on Thursday (Dec. 14) comes as the organization grapples with community concerns about noise from the new courts and enthusiasm from pickleball players seeking more locations to play the burgeoning sport.

The association is choosing between two designs for the project: six dedicated pickleball courts with four courts that have blended lines on the existing tennis courts at 1901 Barton Hill Road or four dedicated pickleball courts with no blended lines on the existing courts.

RA plans to install Acoustifence — noise blocking material — to manage sound in the area, adding $75,000 to the initial price tag of $770,000.

With the assistance of consultant Kimley-Horn, RA completed two sound studies in July and November. The latest study found that noise from pickleball play is below Fairfax County’s noise ordinance for continuous sound — sound that is constant throughout observation — and 100 decibels for impulse sound — single or multiple sounds characterized by a sudden rise in noise.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell any neighbor that what they’re hearing is not valid or isn’t reality,” Aaron Heustess, a senior civil engineer with Kimley-Horn, said. “All I can do is point back to the data, which says if you look at the meter and you watch what’s happening, it’s not impacting the noise.”

According to Heustess, most of the studied sound was dominated by traffic noise.

Board director Laurie Dodd noted that the county’s noise ordinance is designed more for average noise levels, rather than impulse noise levels.

Heustess also pointed out that the sound produced from a pickleball whacking a racket is significantly shorter than other sounds and has “low energy from an overall average standpoint.”

“The impulsive nature of pickleball noise does not drive the average noise level for that particular use,” he said.

He also noted that the county’s noise ordinance has an exception for recreational uses between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The bottom line, Heustess concurred with director Irwin Flashman, was to “keep it as far away from people as you possibly can.”

Meanwhile, RA’s community survey found that 15% of its members played pickleball within the last year, and 12% of members would’ve played in the last month but were limited by the availability of courts. Others said they were concerned about overcrowded courts and limited hours.

If approved, scheduling for the Barton Hill pickleball courts and the soccer field would be staggered to address concerns about parking needs. There are currently 28 existing parking spots at the courts, including ones across the road at the soccer field.

In a separate matter, RA worked with community members to draft a memo asking the Virginia Department of Transportation to consider installing a crosswalk on Barton Hill Road.

Further engineering and study is necessary before a permit application is submitted.

A rendering of Down the Line Sports Center’s planned Annandale pickleball facility (via Down the Line Sports Center)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) Pickleball devotees will soon have new places to play in the Fairfax area.

The Fairfax City Council voted last night (Tuesday) to grant a special use permit to Down the Line Sports Center, which will build an indoor pickleball facility to replace the vacated CVS in Courthouse Plaza (10390 Willard Way).

The 10,000-square-foot former pharmacy will be transformed into a dedicated pickleball facility with three full-sized courts and two half-sized courts, according to the application submitted by Down the Line owner Jenni Bae.

Though an opening date hasn’t been set yet, Down the Line is already preparing to extend its reach with a second, larger facility in Annandale that’s also anticipated to launch next year.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Down the Line Sports Center, and we are thrilled to bring our first location to the heart of Old Town,” Bae said. “Our vision is to create a space where patrons of all ages can come together, play, and connect. We’re grateful for the support of the City Council, Fairfax City Economic Development, and the Façade and Interior Improvement Grant program for making this dream a reality.”

Provided by Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED), the grant program reimburses 50% or up to $20,000 of the costs for businesses to get established or expand in the city.

A tennis player who got into pickleball during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bae told FFXnow that the original plan was to open an indoor pickleball facility in Annandale. But then, she connected with the FCED and saw an opportunity to open a smaller center more quickly.

“We recognized it as basically a beneficial opportunity for both Fairfax City and our business,” she said.

Because the Fairfax City facility will be relatively small, Down the Line hopes to offer social events to the community in lieu of pickleball tournaments and leagues, which require at least six courts, according to the application.

The company said it’s open to partnering with the Old Town Fairfax Business Association and the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce on future events, while also participating in festivals and other outdoor city events.

In a press release, the FCED lauded the facility as “a significant leap towards invigorating Old Town Fairfax and fostering a sense of community.” Fairfax City has six pickleball courts at Green Acres Center (4401 Sideburn Road), including one that’s indoors, and four at Van Dyck Park (3720 Blenheim Blvd), but this is the city’s first dedicated, indoor pickleball complex.

Fairfax City Mayor Catherine Read credited local pickleball players at Green Acres Center and former city council member Janice Miller with advocating for more playing options in the city to support the growing — and sometimes polarizing — sport.

“We have delivered a solution that works no matter the weather,” Read said. “That value is made greater by the fact many residents can walk there or take the free CUE bus.”

According to Bae, Down the Line hopes to open the Fairfax facility this winter, followed in the second half of 2024 by the Annandale facility.

Located at 4311 Ravensworth Road, the 50,000-square-foot Annandale center will feature 18 permanent indoor courts, seven golf simulators and a sports bar. The company envisions it as a future destination for both amateur and professional players in the D.C. region and beyond.

“Our goal is to bring in huge events that we’ve never been able to have in this area before because no one has ever been able to provide the indoor space that we can provide,” Bae said. “…We will become a destination center where people will fly in from other states to play in our tournaments…They’re going to bring more business to the restaurants, to the hotels and to everything in the Annandale area because of our center.”

Rendering via Down the Line Sports Center

Renovated tennis court and new pickleball courts are debuting at Herndon’s Bready Park (courtesy Town of Herndon)

The tennis court renovations at Bready Park (814 Ferndale Avenue) in Herndon are officially complete.

The renovation project includes the addition of four pickleball courts — an effort to meet growing demand for the sport in the area.

Other updates include new fencing, the application of a new surface called ProBounce.

The park now has four pickleball courts and five tennis courts, two of which are contained in the park’s temporary indoor tennis facility.

“We are pleased to publicly open the newly renovated Bready Park Tennis Courts, featuring the innovative ProBounce® surface which will add many years of use to the courts and enhance player comfort with the cushioned surfacing for both tennis and pickleball enthusiasts,” Herndon Parks and Recreation Director Cindy Roeder said in a press release. “The addition of pickleball courts is a testament to our commitment to meeting the diverse recreational needs of our community.”

A maximum of one reservation per day is allowed per individual. Each reservation is $10 per hour.

Scheduled sessions for pickleball players are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Courts are available from sunrise to 10 p.m. daily, allowing both reservations and drop-in play.

Reservations can be made online or by calling the town’s parks and recreation department at 703-435-6868.

The project kicked off in July after a design phase was completed in August of 2022.

The Barton Hill tennis courts in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reston Association is approaching a crossroads in its project to convert tennis courts at Barton Hill into pickleball courts.

The organization is now considering two potential designs for the facility at 1901 Barton Hill Road. One would replace two of the four existing tennis courts with 10 pickleball courts, including six dedicated courts and four with “blended lines” that could be shared with tennis players. The other would have four pickleball courts, all of them dedicated to the trendy sport.

Presented at a community meeting on Sept. 6, the second option was developed in response to noise concerns raised by community members in March, RA staff said.

However, Barton Hill residents remain skeptical of even the scaled-down proposal, according to a memo sent last week to RA and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

In addition to calling for advanced sound testing, residents say the courts lack “sufficient parking to accommodate the expected high demand” for pickleball. There are currently nine parking spaces for the tennis courts, including one ADA space, falling short of Fairfax County’s new two-spaces-per-court minimum requirement.

There are an additional 19 spaces on site to support the nearby soccer field, according to Bill Rountree, who wrote the letter as the self-identified “Barton Hill community spokesman.”

“It is our position that these are dedicated to soccer and may not be used to comply with County regulations,” Rountree wrote. “RA has no authority to declare such in the absence of a County determination.”

A pickleball study that the Fairfax County Park Authority finalized in December 2021 went even further with its parking guidelines, recommending that one space be provided per player.

According to the letter, residents estimate that the proposed courts could draw as many as 40 players at a time, based on the reported usage of the four pickleball courts at Autumnwood, which currently has the only dedicated pickleball facilities in Reston.

“In light of this, we strongly urge RA to consider implementing an appointment reservation system to manage the parking situation effectively,” Rountree said.

A requested crosswalk on Barton Hill Road at Sunrise Valley Drive could further aggravate the situation, the letter said, citing a county prohibition on parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk.

On behalf of the community, Rountree expressed overall support for adding a crosswalk, which residents hope will address safety issues at that intersection. RA staff have submitted a request to VDOT asking it to review the proposed crosswalk. Read More

A proposal to renovate the tennis courts at Barton Hill is moving forward (via Joan Azeka/Unsplash)

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

Two of the six tennis courts at Nottoway Park in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A grassroots advocacy group of local pickleball players is taking its campaign urging Fairfax County to provide more facilities to a new, more public level.

The Fairfax County Advocates for Pickleball sent a petition last Thursday (Aug. 3) to the Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County Park Authority calling for two of the six existing tennis courts at Nottoway Park in Oakton to be converted into pickleball-only courts.

Located at 9537 Courthouse Road just outside the Town of Vienna border, the 84-acre park’s size and location would make it ideal for multiple, dedicated pickleball courts, the organization argued.

“It’s somewhat centrally located within Providence, which allows for easy access by more citizens,” Peter Montanino, one of the group’s Providence District members, told FFXnow. “Additionally, there’s plenty of room at Nottoway Park, which allows for pickleball courts and not bother neighbors with noise because that seems to be an argument that a lot of neighbors have.”

The petition was signed by 1,425 people, more than 1,300 of them confirmed to be Fairfax County residents. The largest number of signatories came from Vienna or Fairfax, but some were from as far away as Herndon, Alexandria and even Woodbridge.

With pickleball ranking as the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., dedicated courts at Nottoway would relieve some of the pressure on facilities in Vienna and Fairfax City, whose courts at the Green Acres Senior Center routinely draw over 30 people at a time in the mornings and 20 to 30 people at night, according to the petition.

In February, the Town of Vienna reduced pickleball hours at its Glyndon Park courts after nearby residents took issue with the noise. With the town council’s support, Mayor Linda Colbert wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors in June asking the county to consider adding more pickleball facilities.

Since conducting a study of its pickleball facility needs in 2020, Fairfax County has expanded its roster by 48 courts for a total of 76 courts, including the completion of two courts at Cunningham Park in Vienna just this month, according to the park authority.

Another 10 courts are currently being developed, and eight more are planned for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2024, though Nottoway Park isn’t on that list, FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer told FFXnow.

“This represents the most rapid expansion of pickleball facilities in the region,” Boxer said. “This work follows the outcome of a comprehensive pickleball study conducted in 2020 in response to an overwhelming demand for more facilities.”

Right now, though, the only site with more than two pickleball-only courts is the George Washington Rec Center in Mount Vernon, per the FCPA’s new park amenity locator.

The advocacy group argues that at least four pickleball courts are needed at one location for a facility to successfully support open play, where players can show up and join a game without scheduling one beforehand.

“Players look for multiple courts as there is a greater chance of having multiple players,” the petition said. “…Scattering two pickleball courts around the county in various parks will not be effective. Pickleball players want to switch up playing with many players in order improve their skills.” Read More

The pool at Herndon Community Center is slated for renovations (via Herndon Community Center/Facebook)

The tennis courts at Bready Park in Herndon are slated for major upgrades — one of several renovations projects undertaken by the town’s park and recreation department this month.

All six courts at 814 Ferndale Avenue will be closed today (Monday), as crews work to install new fencing and replace the court surface, bubble structure and mechanical equipment.

Players can turn to Chandon Park (900 Palmer Drive) and Bruin Park (415 Van Buren Street) for playing options. Parks and recreation programs will also be relocated to Bruin Park to ensure “uninterrupted” access for participants, according to a news release from the town.

The tennis courts are expected to reopen by Oct. 9, according to the town.

In addition, the indoor pool at Herndon Community Center will close starting July 22. Crews plan to remove lighting fixtures, repair tail and replace the boilers and ultraviolet (UV) light systems. General maintenance and application of a new white coat is also planned.

The pool is expected to open on Sept. 11.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these temporary closures but believe that the resulting improvements will greatly enhance the overall enjoyment of our facilities,” the town wrote in a statement. “We appreciate the continued support and understanding of our valued citizens and patrons during these projects.”

The town also plans to build a new picnic pavilion at Haley Smith Park. While the impact to parking will be minimal, the town will set up a restricted area around the new facility. Work is expected to begin today (Monday) and end on July 28.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new pavilion is scheduled for Aug. 16 at 11 a.m.

Photo via Herndon Community Center/Facebook

The St. James in Reston now offers pickleball for members and non-members (courtesy The St. James)

Pickleball fever has officially taken hold at The St. James, a sports, entertainment and wellness club in Reston Town Center.

The Reston location will now offer two separate outdoor, turf rooftop areas with four pickleball courts, in addition to strength-building and cardio equipment. There will be more than 70 weekly group classes.

The company, which also has locations in Springfield and Bethesda, says the addition of its pickleball club demonstrates the company’s commitment to the community’s needs.

“Our mission at The St. James has always been to exceed the expectations of our members and provide them with world-class training opportunities for growth within sport and in life,” said David Hoye, general manager of The St. James Performance Club in Reston.

The club opened at 11951 Freedom Drive last year. The main facility in Springfield has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, field house, rock climbing wall and other recreational amenities. It also offers 50 group classes per week, sports leagues and numerous camps.

Court use is complementary for members, but non-member rates are $10 for drop-ins and $25 per court reservations.


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