Lavallette began selling its new Recreation Badges on Tuesday, setting forth a new method of charging for access to the ever-popular pickleball and tennis courts along the bayfront.
“It covers pickleball and tennis, and there are also daily badges,” said Borough Administrator John O. Bennett.
The borough council authorized the creation of the $50 seasonal recreation badge to help govern access to the courts, which grew into an issue once pickleball exploded in popularity. Lavallette installed state-of-the-art courts, becoming something of a pickleball hub in the process, but faced issues managing the courts’ popularity. This season, users of the courts will have to have a $50 seasonal recreation badge or purchase a $5 daily badge for access.
The badges are currently being sold at borough hall, however sales will shift to the “beach hut” at Chandler Field, where all badges – beach and recreation – will be sold starting in June. The badges will be required from June 17 through Sept. 4, and will differ in look from the beach badges. The recreation badges will be black-and-white with the letter ‘R’ printed on them, while this year’s beach badges are red or white.
“People will have to have either a daily or season to play on those courts effective that date,” said Bennett.
Under an agreement which ruffled feathers at a recent council meeting, the governing body agreed to allow the Lavallette Pickleball Club to manage public, open play at the courts under its scheduling system from 8 a.m. to 12 noon every Saturday and Sunday, as well as July 4 and Labor Day, this summer. The group had requested to manage the courts during that time period every day for the entire summer, however the council decided that a borough employee should oversee access outside the busy weekend time periods.
“Everybody needs one,” Mayor Walter LaCicero said of the badges, even if they already have a beach badge for the season, or if they are a guest of someone who has a seasonal recreation badge.
Senior recreation badges will be sold for $20 and veterans and active members of the military may have the fee waived with sufficient identification.