VAIL — As plans evolve to renovate Booth Creek Park, questions like bridges and trails are easy. The tough question is about pickleball.
Town of Vail officials are meeting with residents in the Booth Creek neighborhood to come up with a plan for the small park. While more meetings will be held this summer, Todd Oppenheimer, the town’s project manager for the park, recently told the council one decision has been made: The park will be mostly for the neighborhood.
But that leaves open a question about what the town should do with the now-unusable tennis court at the park.
Resident Joe Rink would like to see at least a couple of pickleball courts. Rink recently emailed the Vail Town Council to lobby for a pickleball “center” somewhere in town.
Addressing the council, Rink said Booth Creek wouldn’t be a great place for multiple courts, but it could hold a court, or two, or three, on the tennis court site there now.
Rink, who winters in Arizona, said the community he lives in there now has more than 521 active pickleball players, more than half the number of tennis players. Rink, a former tennis player, said pickleball is a great sport for older people who want to remain active and that the sport is growing rapidly.
But some park neighbors told council members they’re worried about the noise that might be created from a couple of busy pickleball courts.
“It’s loud, it’s annoying, it’s like Chinese water torture,” resident Penny Nichols said of pickleball play at the park’s tennis court a couple of years ago. Nichols said players “who don’t even live in Vail” were coming to Booth Creek to play that summer.
She told council members she’s concerned that pickleball play at the park “could interfere with our peace and quiet.”
One family that owns a home in the neighborhood was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting and hired attorney Art Abplanalp to comment in their absence.
Abplanalp told council members that pickleball is a sport “more suitable to recreational facilities such as the tennis courts,” locations away from residential areas.
Mayor Andy Daly acknowledged he’s unfamiliar with pickleball and said town officials should sit down with officials from the Vail Recreation District to try to find a solution to demand for play and a way to keep the “thwack” of plastic balls against wooden paddles out of residential areas.