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Pickleball courts protest under way

By Staff | Feb 6, 2020

Giuffrida Park is the oldest neighborhood park in Cape Coral, as well as one of the smallest.

So, when the city announced plans to install pickleball courts in the park as part of the city’s $60 million voter-approved parks Master Plan, some neighbors in the area cried foul.

Those residents have now started to circulate a petition to keep the courts out of the 3.7-acre park, claiming the courts would increase noise and make the park less safe.

Carol Bruno and Tony Planas are working to keep the pickleball courts out of what they say is a quiet park by starting a petition this week to be signed by residents opposed to the courts.

“We live right across the park and we have people walking the dog and cycling and, when pickleball was suggested here, we said ‘No, thank you,'” Bruno said.

Bruno, an 18-year resident, said residents keep an eye on the park and have grown a nice community, but with six foster children in the neighborhood, it would be a danger to put something across from their house.

“The amount of traffic and people would be overwhelming. It’s a small park and they’ll be taking trees down to build them,” Bruno said. “Pickleball courts are known to be noisy and bring in traffic. It’s not a fit for this neighborhood.”

“This is a very small park in a very nice neighborhood. It already has basketball and other things. We don’t want the neighborhood to become flooded with people from other areas,” said Planas, a 15-year resident. “The city wants to start tournaments here.”

Bruno said the area around the park has no sidewalks and, with children waiting for their school bus every day, the increased traffic would further endanger them.

Bruno added that with such limited space, pickleball would just crowd everything out. The park currently has two playgrounds, basketball courts, a picnic shelter with barbecue grills and restrooms.

“People come to play football and tag in that space and the city rents out the structure for parties. We don’t mind because it’s on the weekend,” Bruno said. “The courts, they are scared of.”

Planas said the courts would result in degradation of the environment with the loss of trees and grassy areas.

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport played mainly by older people that is gaining popularity in this region. It is a cross between tennis and ping-pong, with the wooden paddles and plastic ball making a distractive noise that can be heard from a good distance.

Complaints have also come from residents near the new Sands Park, where more pickleball courts are planned.

City residents approved the issuance of $60 million in general obligation bonds in 2018 to pay for the Parks Master Plan. The 15-year bond will fund major park and recreation improvements as well as seven new neighborhood parks, three community parks and the Yellow Fever Creek Environmental Park.

The proposed improvements at Giuffrida Park include more parking, improved landscaping, a multi-use path and sidewalk and shade structure.

Giuffrida Park is at 1044 NE 4th St.