There may be some sour grapes over the pickleball debate in Peru after the city council voted Wednesday to keep the court at the 28th Street Park.
On motions by aldermen Bob Ankiewicz and Dave Waldorf the council voted 6-2 to continue pickleball at 28th Street Park. Aldermen Rodney Perez and Sherry Mayszak voted against it.
That would seem to make a second motion, to relocate pickleball, moot. Even so, Aldermen Perez and Mayszak motioned for a vote, and it failed by the same split, 2-6.
The park and recreation commission approved building a pickleball court over a tennis court, one of six tennis courts in the city. Devotees started a league and held clinics this summer. Pickleball is like tennis but uses a paddle and a plastic ball. Complaints arose about the noise from the paddles hitting the balls and three neighbors attracted the support of Mayszak and Perez.
Roelif Loveland, a pickleball player, gave statistics supporting pickleball. If play occurs two hours a day, three days a week for five months of the year, this would total 120 hours of pickleball play a year, 1.3 percent of all hours, he said. That’s not enough to warrant spending money to remove the court and build it somewhere else,Lovelandsaid.
Jill Bernal, who lives onMarquette Roadnext to the park, said the noise decreases nearby home values and she threatened to file a lawsuit against the city.
“If you keep pickleball at the 28th Street Park you will force the neighbors to take legal action,” she said. A trial is set for spring inRockford for similar pickleball litigation, she said.
Bernal said city officials offered no solution to residents’ concerns and the park and recreation commission violated the Open Meetings Act by voting earlier this year to convert the tennis court for pickleball.
Jim Grabowski, lead organizer of the new game, told the council he had no public comment.
Discussion prior to the vote centered on moving it onto the tennis court at SunsetPark, where residents are more agreeable to it, Mayszak said. She suggested that if the game remained successful that a permanent court be built in VeteransPark. Perez said the nuisance it now causes neighbors at 28th Street Park is unacceptable.
Alderman Tony Ferrari said the council acts in the best interest of citizens and should stand behind the park and recreation commission’s decision.WashingtonPark’s Little League baseball games are loud with lights on late at night and complaints don’t rival those around pickleball, he said.
Ferrari asked resident and pickleball opponent, Linda Dzierzynski, not to “smirk” at his comment from her seat in the audience. Her husband, Larry came to her defense, saying Ferrari’s comments were inappropriate.
Ferrari said Mayszak and Perez intruded into his ward when taking an interest in the park. Mayszak said she is on the public property committee, which includes parks, and said Perez wanted to be informed about council issues.
Aldermen Ankiewicz and Mayszak, who comprise the public property committee, could not agree on a solution in committee and brought it to the council. Also, an ordinance was amended in August requiring changes to park and playground structures to be approved by the public property committee and city council, not the commission.
Ankiewicz said he supports the commission’s recommendation to continue pickleball at the park for two more years to monitor its success.
Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.