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A peaceful (sort of) pickleball protest

Pickleball players from across the Denver metro gathered to protest rules that could limit more courts in Denver.

DENVER — Pickleball is not something player Kirsten Palmquist ever thought would be a source of controversy.

But here we are. 

"I’m here to support public pickleball," Palmquist said, as she held her paddle, waiting to jump in on a game at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Denver. "Denver Parks and Rec kind of put a shutdown on eight pickleball courts that were going to be put into the interior of Congress Park, so I wanted to come out and show my support for that cause." 

Dozens of players showed up to support the sport -- one that has been in the news lately. Denver Parks and Rec removed pickleball courts from Congress Park in March, abandoning a plan to rebuild them closer to the interior to the park because of noise complaints. They had also planned on building courts at Sloan's Lake Park. That plan has been shelved, as well. 

"I’m not saying pickleball courts should be built right next to a residence, but putting them into the interior of a park where it can be quieted by trees and wind guards and things like that -- it only makes perfect sense," Palmquist said.

An inspector found that the sounds levels coming from the courts in Congress Park, which were built on the edges of the park, were emitting sounds in the 70 decibel range. That violates the 55 decibel range the city allows. 

Hollynd Hoskins is a pickleball player, and attorney, who filed an appeal on May 8 to the 19-member Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. She said she wants them to have a special hearing to discuss the sport. 

"Denver Parks and Rec made an arbitrary and unfounded directive that prohibits pickleball in certain parks and restricts it at others," Hoskins said.

She said rules like distances between courts and housing, and how close courts can be to other recreational courts like tennis courts, are ways to keep pickleball out of city-run parks. 

Cyndi Karvaski with Denver Parks and Rec said it is not true that the department is trying to find ways to eliminate the sport from parks. She said that they are trying to find more suitable places to put courts, and they have compiled a Pickleball Advisory Committee to help them complete the task.

"We're not trying to keep pickleball out of parks," Karvaski said. "We're trying to mitigate any conflict for people who live near them, and we're looking at other opportunities to have pickleball courts in other parks.

Karvaski said the board advises and makes recommendations to Denver Parks and Rec, but does not make any decisions on operational procedures. She also said that public comment is welcome at the beginning of every board meeting. The next meeting is May 10.

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