This story has been updated from its original version.
The Lake Oswego City Council is slated to take up the contentious issue of pickleball at George Rogers Park during its meeting July 5.
The council will be evaluating a recommendation from the city of Lake Oswego Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Advisory Board that was approved by a 4-3 vote during a meeting June 16. That recommendation was to close the pickleball courts until the city can decide on a new policy for the sport, which would be done within a period of no longer than six months.
For many months, homeowners who live near the courts have complained that the noise from pickleball paddles striking the ball at all hours of the day has proven grating and even harmed their mental and physical well-being.
In response, the city reduced pickleball hours at the courts, added barriers and hired a contractor to conduct a study of noise levels near the courts.
After hearing the results of the study, the parks advisory board at a June 16 meeting voted on two motions — one to recommend closing the courts until more work is done to address pickleball issues in town, and another to keep them open and study the issue further. It was initially thought that the 4-3 vote in favor of the first motion did not pass, because all nine members of the board were not in attendance. However, a parks board member told the Review that they learned the next day that the motion had actually passed.
One resident who testified at the parks board meeting said that they can't open windows or doors during the day because of the noise and that the vibrations from the sound of the pickleballs are at times painful.
Another said that it had turned the neighborhood into a parking lot due to the popularity of play, while a third said that pickleball should never have been allowed there due to the court's proximity to homes.
Some who testified at a City Council meeting June 21, however, said the city should not be allowed to limit the use of a public facility within a park based on community requests, adding that recent measures have proven effective to reduce noise at the courts and pickleball promotes activity and wellness.
Melissa Miller, principal with ADB engineering, presented the results of the noise study during the parks board meeting. The study showed that pickleball causes an increase in noise levels near surrounding homes, but did not exceed the recommended peak level or violate Oregon Department of Environmental Quality standards. The city does not have a noise ordinance that regulates such a recreational use.
Oftentimes the noise from pickleball was about twice as loud as the background noise, Miller said. The noise levels were often considered to be moderate but reached what is considered loud at times as well. Miller also said there was a slight reduction in noise levels when the barriers were implemented. The city does have noise limits for industrial or commercial activity and the pickleball noise did not exceed those limits.
One board member wanted more information about further remedies — such as enhanced fencing — before they would consider closing the courts or moving them to another location.
Another board member thought they should open up their hearts to what residents near the court are experiencing and consider that strongly in making a decision.
A third said that they were not qualified to make a determination based on decibel levels, as they don't have the expertise in that area to do so.
The City Council will have the ultimate say as far as what to do with the courts.
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