Some fitness trends come and go, like the neon lycra of the 1980s, and others seem to have staying power, like the ultra-popular court-based game of pickleball. The game was invented in 1965 in Bainbridge, WA, and has been making its way eastward since. Hoboken players have been organizing games since 2015, which means finding places to play. With recreational spaces already tough to find in Hudson County, another activity means an added challenge for community leaders. There are currently two scenarios where additional pickleball courts are being considered for Hoboken. Read on to learn more.
What is Pickleball?
According to USA Pickleball, the official pickleball organization in the country, pickleball is “a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. [It is] Played indoors or outdoors on a badminton size court and [uses] a slightly modified tennis net.”
Because the sport is low-tech, has relatively simple rules, and doesn’t take up much space, it has become popular nationwide among many age groups. It is the fastest-growing sport in America, according to the Sports + Fitness Industry Association.
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Noise Issues Growing More Common
At the same time, pickleball’s popularity has caused problems in all kinds of neighborhoods. Both down the shore and in the West Village, neighbors disagree about this sport with a silly name. In addition to the land use issues, it’s a sound issue. The consistent plink-plink of the ball on the paddle is at just the right decibel level to drive a person crazy, according to one NPR story.
Many neighbors say that the addition of the courts, the noise, and the pedestrian traffic to their neighborhoods is not what they signed up for when moving into their homes five, ten, twenty, or more years ago. There are now numerous lawsuits around the country from neighbors who are experiencing the unpleasant noises in their own neighborhoods.
And this isn’t just a cranky neighbor issue, it seems. When the hard surface of the pickleball racket connects with the hard surface of the ball, sound waves vibrate rapidly, registering a decibel level of ~70 dBA at 100 feet from the court, according to various studies.
Under the 14th Street Viaduct
HG has heard some chatter about the open space underneath the 14th Street Viaduct in Uptown Hoboken. While it has played host to many farmers’ markets, holiday markets, and other community events, we heard from readers who were asking if rumors were true that the space would be turned into pickleball courts. We reached out to the Mayor’s Office for clarification.
A City of Hoboken spokesperson told us this week that the area underneath the Viaduct was fenced off right now for lighting upgrades. The work is expected to be completed and the fencing removed by next week. This was confirmed by Freeholder Anthony Romano via phone call.
On the topic of the area potentially becoming pickleball courts, we were told that the City and Hudson County have been discussing ways to set up the space underneath the Viaduct with temporary pickleball setups, but there would still be room for activities under the Viaduct.
“One of the proposals was to construct flexible pickleball court space with moveable fencing which would allow all events, including farmers markets, to occur as normal as fencing would be removed and stored at an alternate location. The City and County anticipate holding a public meeting in the coming weeks to solicit community feedback.”
There will be an in-person meeting on Monday, August 21st at 6PM at 14th and Adams Streets about the potential pickleball courts to “discuss activating space under the 14th Street Viaduct for pickleball”, per a Nixle alert sent out by the City of Hoboken on Wednesday.
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800 Monroe Street Resiliency Park
Photo Credit: City of Hoboken
The City of Hoboken has been working on the 800 Monroe Street Resiliency Park for a while now and is in the final stages of the design process. At this point, in August 2023, the City is soliciting resident feedback via a survey between two final designs. Both designs have pickleball and tennis courts incorporated: three tennis courts and six pickleball courts, to which some neighbors in the 800 area’s surrounding buildings have noted, is going to be concerning as a noise issue.
“The sound will be extremely present for all residents in that vicinity if they put in pickleball courts,” residents of the surrounding park shared with HG via email. “We’re concerned about the noise.”
According to the City, “The proposed design approaches incorporate sound mitigation measures to minimize noise impacts to nearby residences that may be caused by the park’s activities, such as tennis and pickleball.” The survey can be found here.