Construction underway on two sets of pickleball courts, built using federal funds

Jun 20, 2023

In just a few months, Dartmouth residents can play pickleball a lot closer to home. 

Construction is underway on two new pickleball locations, comprising six total courts, bringing a piece of the town’s plans for American Rescue Plan Act funds to fruition. 

“The thing about the pickleball community in Dartmouth is we tend to go elsewhere, because there hasn’t been a lot of places for us to play,” said Erin McHugh, who lives in Dartmouth and recently published her book, “Pickleball is Life.”

Pickleball, often called the fastest-growing sport in America, is a variation on tennis in which two or four players hit a ball similar to a Wiffle ball over a net using solid paddles. It’s played on a smaller court than Tennis. 

McHugh, who plays pickleball nearly every day, said the sport is “really, really social.”

“It’s welcoming, it’s egalitarian, it’s very near to cost-free and there’s a lot, a lot of laughter,” McHugh said. 

“It’s social, you meet people,” said pickleball player Pamela Bermudez. “You join into a game and they’re quick, and before you know it, you're playing with another group of people.”

Dartmouth has a large population of pickleballers, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said, and advocates have been asking the town to build local courts. Bermudez was involved in the initial push to get the courts built. She went to the Board of Parks and Recreation in 2021 with about 40 other people to let them know there was a need for courts in Dartmouth. 

One location is in Dartmouth Regional Park, at the end of Harry M. Reynolds Drive. Tennis courts were previously in that location but saw little use. Two courts will be built there. 

Four more courts will be created by converting basketball courts on Slocum Road, near Crapo field. One of the basketball courts will be left in place, as it is a memorial court for a late student. The courts at this location already have lights installed. 

The town approved the new pickleball courts at a Select Board meeting in June 2022 as part of its plans for federal funding received through the American Rescue Plan Act. 

The town will receive approximately $9.3 million from the Act. Most of that funding will go to water and sewer improvements, but a portion of the funds, in the “Revenue Replacement” category, may be used for a wide array of projects, including public parks. 

MacInnes said the town budgeted around $460,000 to construct the pickleball courts, but the project has come in under budget so far. 

Residents looking to play in town before construction is completed can use the two courts set up at UMass Dartmouth. 

Now that the town is finally getting courts, McHugh said she hopes Dartmouth players can better organize. 

“The social aspect of pickleball is so so important,” McHugh said.