On Oct. 3, demonstrators raising pickleball paddles and signs that read “We are many” and “We are diverse” attended the Chapel Hill Town Council work session to encourage Town funding of more pickleball courts.
The work session’s agenda items included investigating possible new Parks and Recreation projects, such as a splash pad project and a disability-inclusive playground.
The Oct. 3 Town Council meeting did not include public comment, as it was a work session, so the pickleball players did not speak to the council.
“I think that they are simply community members who are very passionate about something, it’s our constitutional right to show up in spaces and let local policymakers know what our positions are, and they did that,” Chapel Hill council member Paris Miller-Foushee said.
Melody Kramer, a writer for Triangle BlogBlog, wrote a piece on the pickleball demonstrators and examined the current state of the Town's Parks and Recreation needs that could be met through the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“There's a laundry list of items that have been basically patiently waiting their turn, and I think it's awesome that the pickleballers have said that they can contribute $400,000 in matching funds,” Kramer said. “I looked that up, that's about 12 pickleball courts without land and part of me wants to say that's great, you know, grab some land, build your own pickleball courts, go to town.”
Kramer said the demographics of the pickleball demonstrators were representative of those who have the time and resources to attend these council meetings.
“People who might want to advocate for an accessible playground and a splash pad are either in bed or putting their kids to bed, so they're not able to physically be present at council meetings,” she said.
In addition to a possible splash pad and disability-inclusive playground, Kramer said that some of the Town's ARPA funding could be used to renovate the Chapel Hill Teen Center and the Chapel Hill Skate Park.