Lavallette is considering establishing a new seasonal recreation pass that would allow those wishing to play tennis or pickleball to pay a single fee rather than paying hourly fees for court time.
“People could opt to buy an annual $50 pass and there would be no hourly fee,” said Borough Administrator John Bennett, who is drafting the plan and intends to work with residents to iron out the details. “There would be a little badge, just like the beach. But you don’t have to buy the $50, we’re not eliminating [hourly access].
Pickleball, in particular, has exploded in popularity in recent years with Lavallette becoming something of a regional capital for the growing sport. A group of residents began a league, of sorts, and began managing time slots for the courts and collecting the $5-per-hour charge. While the group was created under friendly terms, some have questioned whether it is appropriate for certain residents to claim authority over court usage scheduling, or collect money for court time, leading officials to consider a more traditional approach.
Under Bennett’s proposal, an employee of the recreation department would man a booth at the courts and set aside court times.
“The design is to try to make it easier for everybody, and we would have somebody there at the booth,” he said. “We would recommend reservations still be made.”
Kathy Grandstrand, one of the organizers of the pickleball group, said at a council meeting this week that she and her friends volunteered to organize court usage in the past, asking Bennett for a meeting to discuss changes before they become baked into the borough’s recreation ordinance.
“We facilitate the collection of the money to accommodate what that ordinance says,” Grandstrand said. “We sold our own badges only to accommodate the ordinance.”
Bennett said he would coordinate with the group and take their input into account before submitting a full proposal and draft ordinance to the borough council.
” I’ve only done the draft,” he said.