Prairie Village is looking at four different options for alleviating pickleball noise coming from public courts at Windsor Park.
Residents near the park at 7200 Windsor St. have shared concerns about the incessant noise of paddles hitting balls at six pickleball courts that were installed at the park in June.
Even Mayor Eric Mikkelson has expressed his concern that the courts have potentially changed the overall character of the park, which is surrounded by homes on three sides and St. Ann Catholic Church on its western edge.
The Prairie Village City Council last week gave city staff the green light to explore options for four different types of possible sound mitigation at the park.
What are the options?
Pickleball Sound Mitigation LLC, an acoustics firm that specializes in tamping down pickleball sound, evaluated the park and its sound issue.
An evaluation found neighbors to the north and east of the court are more impacted by the noise due to their proximity to the courts.
The company noted that sound barriers near pickleball courts can reduce sound levels, and there are a few companies included in the document that make a product to achieve these reduced acoustics.
Here are those options, as outlined in city documents:
- An “Acoustifence,” supplied by the company Acoustiblok, would be an eight-foot-tall vinyl sheet that covers the entirety of a fence around the pickleball courts. This is the option Pickleball Sound Mitigation recommends for Windsor Park.
- Another option would install layers of quilted fiberglass attached to large vinyl sheets produced by a company called Insul-Quilt.
- A third option would be just the large vinyl sheets themselves, produced by a company called eNoise Control.
Prairie Village is also open to a fourth company’s product that is currently being tested, according to city documents.
Mayor concerned about pickleball long-term at Windsor
Mikkelson said he is concerned the noise mitigation efforts won’t be enough, and that “maybe the city got this one wrong.”
He said he walks the park each morning, and the noise is “exceptionally loud” with up to 24 people playing pickleball at once.
Windsor Park used to be a calm, quiet park nestled in a neighborhood where people could read while their kids enjoyed the playground, Mikkelson said.
Now, reading at the park may be virtually impossible during pickleball hours.
“I’m a little concerned whether the sound will reflect more out the open panels now, and whether we’ve really changed the nature of that park in a way that none of us really anticipated,” Mikkelson said.
Could the city revert back to tennis courts?
Mikkelson said maybe the city needs to consider going back to tennis courts at Windsor Park and moving pickleball somewhere else.
Research has shown that noise from tennis produces sound at lower decibel levels than pickleball, due in part to pickleballs and pickleball paddles being made from hard plastic, which produce louder noises when struck.
Councilmember Dave Robinson shared similar concerns as Mikkelson about Windsor Park and also said he dislikes the idea of a non-transparent fence in a city park.
Robinson said he is open to finding out how much a sound mitigation fence costs, but he is against putting up a fence. He said he’d rather go back to tennis courts at Windsor Park.
“I know that’s probably not popular with the pickleball people, but we need to find spots that can accommodate them without causing the disruption that obviously the study has found that they’ve done,” Robinson said.
- City staff is going to seek bids that will determine how much a sound mitigation fence will cost.
- City staff confirmed that the city council will see the bids and make a decision before any money is spent.