Pickleball: A closer look at Evansville’s latest debate

Pickleball: A closer look at Evansville’s latest debate
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 10:47 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For months, Evansville residents have publicly feuded over the construction of pickleball courts at Wesselman Park. 14 News is taking a closer look at each side of the debate ahead of a key city council vote.

On Tuesday, Larry Thorbeck showed 14 News his property, which is just a stone’s throw away from the already existing tennis courts at Wesselman Park.

He said tennis has already presented problems for his home along East Columbia Street.

“I can hear the tennis balls from where I live,” he explained. “When the weather’s nice, it’s constant.”

He also said the lights above the courts are often left on at night when the courts are active, and they shine directly into his bedroom windows.

Those issues already exist, and the tennis courts aren’t going anywhere. Thorbeck said his concern is that adding the pickleball courts a few hundred more yards away from his home would compound the issues.

“Imagine all the dings from the pickleball and how noisy that will be from sunup to sundown and beyond,” he said. “[Also], when it’s dark, all those additional lights will light up the whole neighborhood.”

14 News asked Thorbeck what he would say to the notion that someone who bought a home next door to a major park should expect heavy traffic and noise. He explained that it was different when he bought the home.

“I’ve been here for 42 years,” he said. “These tennis courts weren’t here, the pickleball courts weren’t even thought of back in the day. Back 42 years ago it was a nice quiet park.”

He said he has nothing against pickleball as a sport, he simply wants it to be built elsewhere, and he wants to make sure elected officials weigh in on the construction.

14 News plans to speak with supporters of the pickleball project later this week and will update this story with their perspective on the issue.