Proposed Amendments For Pickleball Fail at Deliberative

Residents debated a warrant article for pickleball courts being built in town during the Feb. 10 Deliberative Session.
The warrant article is for $490,000 to build up to 10 pickleball courts in town.
It was originally explained by the Pickleball Task Force, who was responsible for vetting options and making recommendations to the Town Council, that for six courts, estimates for the different work and for the physical courts, came in at $360,000 to $560,000, and for 10 courts, the estimated cost is $490,000 to $740,000 to build the courts.
The Town Council previously landed on using $250,000 from the June 30 Unassigned Fund Balance, with the rest coming from new taxes.
One resident, Richard Bielinski Jr., proposed an amendment to make the appropriation for the warrant article $0, saying that he thinks it’s “premature” because of concerns about how much engineering may need to be done and there isn’t funding specified for it.
He explained that his concern is they may run into issues with the land once they start to do work there.
“The land is currently covered with trees,” Bielinski said. He also argued that it’s a “want” and not a need.
Tara Myles, said she also thinks that it’s not needed, and argued other things like all day kindergarten is a priority, saying that she would likely support pickleball on a future ballot.
Brian Samolyk, the Chair of the Pickletball Task Force, argued that there are soccer fields in the same area of where the courts would be, and they don’t have soil or other issues there.
He also said there is a demand for people who want to play, saying that they had a recent event at the high school where over 200 people were there showing interest in the sport. He also explained that within the 20 mile radius of the town, they are the only ones that don’t have courts.
Councilor, Ted Combes, said there is funding included for engineering.
“You have to be able to spend the money and then do it,” he said.
Deb Paul said they will have to maintain the courts once they are built, and that there are other things in town like the tennis courts for the high school that aren’t in good condition, saying they should concentrate on fixing what they have in town. She also stated that fundraising opportunities could be explored, like similar projects in town.
The amendment ultimately failed.
Another amendment came from Ann Chiampa who proposed taking out the use of fund balance from the warrant article meaning that the funding would come entirely from new taxes.
Samolyk said by using the $250,000 it would reduce the tax burden.
The amendment failed on a 49-46 vote, meaning the original warrant article will be sent to the ballot.

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