TOMS RIVER – The Township Council awarded a contract to resurface the town’s tennis courts, and will be meeting with interested parties on how to make sure tennis and pickleball players all have a place to play.
The council passed a resolution awarding Nickolaus Construction Company as the lowest responsible bidder, in a price not to exceed $291,600 for resurfacing 26 tennis courts and six basketball courts.
Joseph Grippaldi, the president of the Ocean Tennis Association (which also serves Monmouth), expressed concern during the council meeting that the pickleball players wouldn’t have a place to play. The courts are different for the two sports.
Council President Brian Kubiel, while discussing the issue with other township officials, said that the contract has to be awarded now so the work can be done before the weather gets cold. Meanwhile, Grippaldi and other interested parties can meet to discuss the exact needs of the pickleball players. The courts can be resurfaced now, and striped according to the needs of each sport.
Grippaldi said he will be meeting with members of the township administration, and the school district, since school teams use the courts as well.
After the meeting, Grippaldi said that his organization would like it if three of the courts at Shelter Cove would be converted permanently to pickleball courts. They are under-utilized at that spot. He wants to one day incorporate the pickleball players into the organization, and wants to make sure everyone has a place to play.
The main place for tennis in town is Bey Lea Park, off Indian Head Road, near the abandoned Toys R Us building. There are many courts together. They are lit at night, and at some times in the morning, there is shade from the trees.
Bey Lea is centrally located, while Shelter Cove is far for anyone living on the western end of town. Grippaldi noted that there is no way to get to the Bey Lea Park except by car. So, players would have to drive no matter where the pickleball courts wind up.
Having Bey Lea courts be striped for both sports doesn’t help the pickleball players, since they won’t be playing on a regulation sized court, and the net is a different height, he said.
“They will not get used the way they are envisioning them to be used,” said Irma DeMarzo, who organizes tennis for the Senior Olympics.
The members of the organization were pleased that the courts were being resurfaced, but concerned that the change was being made without consulting the people who use the courts all the time. Or, as member Bob Johnson said, “measure twice, cut once.” The project can be awarded now, and performed in the spring.
Jared Tate, the township’s director of the Recreation Department, said they looked at multiple ways to address the resurfacing. One is to put up permanent nets for pickleball players. However, if this is done, then tennis players can’t use the courts. There are no plans to do that at this time.
Another is to have temporary pickleball nets so that players can switch the courts depending on what sport they want to play. This is not advisable since these nets could get damaged or stolen, he said.
That leaves the option to put lines in existing tennis courts for pickleball.
The township still has to determine what courts would be dual striped, said Craig Ambrosio, the director of Parks, Buildings, and Grounds Department.
Some pickleball players will tape and stripe tennis courts themselves, and then pick up the tape when they’re done, he said. So, they’re already being used that way.
Dual striping four courts in a well-lit area is probably in the best interest of everyone, he said. It’s a similar principal to a turf field; it can be used for multiple sports.
The striping can be done after the resurfacing, so there’s no need to put off the resurfacing, he said.
A meeting between all interested parties is yet to be held.