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Pings and Pongs of Pickleball Too Much for Neighbors

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Neighbors of Sinnissippi Park in Rockford, Ill., are tired of the noise. It's not the shrieks and screams of kids on the playground or the rowdy behavior of teens late at night; the noise is being made by the 55-and-older crowd, amongst whom the sport of pickleball has seen the greatest increase in popularity in recent years. Two neighbors of the Sinnissippi Pickleball Center have filed an injunction requesting an end to play - and the incessant and intrusive pings and pongs made as the whiffle ball used in the sport comes into contact with players' wooden paddles.

The Rockford Park District opened the Sinnissippi Pickleball Center in 2010 in response to growing interest in the sport. Since then, neighbors Jeanette Haskell and Barbara Friel have had to listen to the sounds of the sport, described in the compliant as "like a hammer blow on a blacksmith's anvil." They claim the noise can be heard in every part of the house, allowing no quiet refuge. For two years, they say, they have tried to work with the park district to put an end to the noise, with no success. The current complaint alleges that the sounds of the courts violate the city's noise-abatement ordinance.

The pickleball courts have been a source of conflict since the very beginning, as tennis enthusiasts decried the district's plans to convert existing tennis courts at a different park into pickleball courts. In selecting Sinnissippi, though, the district was cognizant of possible noise issues.

"We try to be good neighbors. We did have neighborhood meetings before we built the courts," park district executive director Tim Dimke told the Rockford Register Star. "We've done a lot of things to acknowledge that we don't want neighbors inconvenienced. We planted trees. We put up wind screens. We don't allow the group to play too early in the mornings."

The courts border a handful of homes, but Haskell and Friel are the only two residents to complain. The district is preparing a written response to the injunction, which is scheduled for a September 5 court hearing.

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