Pickleball debate heats up in Aventura

Some residents oppose locating new courts where garden currently sits

AVENTURA, Fla. – From Miami-Dade to Broward, there’s growing demand for pickleball courts as the sport continues to grow in popularity.

“It brings people together,” Dr. Dahlia Hirsch, a pickleball player in Fort Lauderdale, said.

In Aventura, a city plan to uproot a community garden for new pickleball courts is running into opposition from some residents.

The new pickleball and tennis courts would be located at the southern portion of Founders Park.

“This is the only green space in Aventura where residents can come and exist within nature,” Aventura resident Alice Bondicini said.

The plan is spurring passive park use advocates, who say they want to keep Founders Park from being paved over.

“(It) would destroy such a beautiful park, (it) comforts so many local residents,” resident Xiu Wang said.

Noise concerns have led to pickleball battles in communities in Florida and elsewhere.

Players acknowledge it can sometimes be a bit of a racket.

“You have to be careful,” Fort Lauderdale pickleball player Jonathan Chong said. “You can’t be too close to the houses, because the sound is loud and it does affect people’s homes.”

Bondicini says while, yes, she’s worried the game’s distinct noise will be at friction with the inherent serenity of gardening and could be a disturbance to those living at nearby condominiums and apartments, it’s not her primary concern.

“None of us are against pickleball, why would we be?” Bondicini said. “We just think this is not the place.”

The Fort Lauderdale pickleball enthusiasts weighed in on the idea of converting green space to courts.

“(It’s) not to take over the entire park with just asphalt and courts,” Chong said.

“It just has to have a good balance, it is never one or another,” Hirsch said.

“As a city of only 3.28 square miles, Aventura is continuously challenged with finding a balance between green spaces and recreational facilities. Our new pickleball and tennis courts will provide recreational space to benefit the entire Aventura community,” city of Aventura spokesperson Evan Ross said in a statement. “The community garden will remain within Founders Park South, and the waterfront walkway will remain accessible for all residents to enjoy.”

The issue is set to go before the full city commission in April.

Click here to view and download documents, including renderings, related to the project.

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About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."