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WESTFIELD — Pickleball and park land acquisition were on the agenda at the Parks & Recreation Commission’s meeting on March 25, the first meeting for new member Jessica Stanwood, who was welcomed by Chair Scott LaBombard.

Pickleball was first raised during public participation with a request from Trudy Knowles of Noble Avenue for more open court play in the eight new courts at the Municipal Park.

“I have been playing pickleball since before the courts were built,” Knowles said, adding that she was “absolutely thrilled” when the original six courts were built.

“Whenever I wanted to go with friends during the summer, I could only get a court during the heat of the afternoon. Never was a morning or evening available,” Knowles said.

Now that there are eight new pickleball courts, Knowles suggested that the town designate four to six of them as unreserved courts for people who just want to play without joining an official tournament. She suggested putting a small committee on it.

“For a while, those courts will be empty, but with signage, they will get used,” Knowles said.

During the meeting, Dena Polverari, president of Westfield Pickleball Inc. requested installation of one to two benches for the section around the eight new courts. The existing bleachers are for the six current courts that are fenced in.

Chris Dorr, a member of Westfield Pickleball, said the benches should be installed in the flat area between the sidewalk and the fence, ensuring that the sidewalk remains accessible to wheelchairs. He handed a price list to the commission members, showing different styles and lengths of benches, and which one they preferred.

“We did a lot of research on different types of benching. This is going to be vastly used by surrounding communities,” Dorr said.

Parks and Recreation Commission member Pete Lurgio said he likes the idea of benches inside the fences, and noted that the city has been buying the same style of benches throughout the city. Commissioners agreed that since this is a “field,” not a park, these benches wouldn’t need to match the city’s other park benches exactly.

“If they’ve made provision for benches by the basketball court, they should match,” Lurgio said.

Commission member Ken Magarian said provisions should also be made to secure the benches.

Polverari said Westfield Pickleball is ready to help with the funding.

“It’s time for WPI to step up, even if we can only afford two,” she said. She added that she was looking for the commission’s recommendation on what would be a good number of benches for the area.

Commission Chair Scott LaBombard said Westfield Pickleball has also suggested numbering the courts 1 to 16 for scheduling purposes. Both matters were referred to Deputy Superintendent Scott Hathaway, who was not present at the meeting, to consult with the city Engineering Department.

Polverari said World Pickleball Day is Oct. 12 and 13.

“We’d love to make it one of our biggest days,” she said, adding that she would like to come back to the commission with a plan.

Polverari also said that she agreed with Knowles’ comments that Westfield Pickleball does not need to use all 14 courts for tournaments.

amyporter@thewestfieldnews.com | + posts