Pickleball has put two Ahwatukee homeowners associations on a collision course over a plan for lighted courts.
Some residents of the 56-unit RD1 HOA are upset that the Ahwatukee Recreation Center – which itself is a homeowners association – plans to install lights on its four pickleball courts.
The courts are between the center and about a dozen homes that look onto a grassy open knoll and a small lake.
It’s bad enough, said RD1 homeowner René Couché and his neighbors, that they have to put up during the daylight hours with the sound of whiffle balls getting whacked by paddles.
“Now we’re going to lose the few hours of peace we have remaining,” he said.
Robert Bartz, president of the ARC HOA board, said some of the approximate 175 members who belong to a pickleball club work in the daytime, so the evening is the only chance they have to play.
But Couché countered, “Some of the people whose peace and quiet is going to be ruined in the evening work, too.”
Bartz issued a statement that said:
“With regard to pickleball court lighting, the ARC board is confident in supporting this popular and vibrant senior adult sport that we can implement lighting of our courts using downward-directed LED lights with side shields on the fixtures so there will be very little, if any, spillover into the neighborhood.
“Also, in keeping with our good neighbor policy, we have retained the services of a sound abatement consulting firm who will make noise level readings in the neighborhood and develop a plan using various sound barrier and absorptive technologies to bring the neighborhood sound impact down to acceptable levels.”
Bartz told AFN, “We’re very concerned about the neighbors as well. We’ve gone over to their houses and listened. We have visited pickeball court installations all over the Valley to try and study and do the best job we can to mitigate the sound and the lighting.”
But the irate neighbors, including Joyce and Herbert Chapnek as well as Couché, maintain the lighted courts create “noise and light pollution” that ultimately will reduce the value of their homes.”
They said most of the houses around the lake have their master bedrooms and living rooms closest to the courts, increasing the disturbance.
They also noted that Pecos Park has lighted pickleball courts. The city is planning to build 18 more courts there.
The ARC HOA has 1,628 homes – including those in RD1 as well as several other HOAs that are all under the umbrella of the Ahwatukee Board of Management. Those homeowners pay $600 in annual dues.
Couché and the angry homeowners have appealed to city Councilman Sal DiCiccio’s office for help, noting that the ARC would need a permit to install the lights because they would constitute a major change in the neighborhood’s environment.
They contend that with lights, the pickleball courts would be open for play 14 hours a day and “will destroy the remaining peace and quiet left in our neighborhood,” Couché said.
A spokesman for DiCiccio said, “Our office has been in contact with René Couché on this matter, but as far as we are aware, the ARC has not filed for any permits. If they did file, neighbors would have the opportunity to voice their opposition at a hearing.”
But Bartz said the ARC HOA is determined to go ahead with its plan, although it has no timetable for installing them because the board is still investing light and noise suppression systems.
“We’re going to move ahead,” he said, adding that the board also has yet to adopt a policy for how long the lights would stay on every evening.
“The pickleball club is very active and is one of the most enthusiastic clubs we have,” he said.
Couché said the courts were moved to their side of the ARC building after a pickleball club member complained that their location on the other side created a disturbance.
“They never did any noise reduction after they got the courts installed and now from sunup to sundown we all have to listen to the constant annoying ‘tink tink tink’ of the pickleball players and their loud voices,” he said. “And when they have a tournament, their loudspeaker systems blast us out of our houses.”
RD1 homeowners were scheduled to meet tonight, Nov. 29, to further discuss the issue and decide whether they can take any further action to stop the light installation.