Singapore – A Yew Tee resident’s efforts to put an end to noisy nightly pickleball games near their home have hit a snag after the town council affirmed the games can continue until 10pm.
57-year-old Lim Poh Hwee, who resides in a HDB flat just 100 metres from the pickleball courts at Block 636A Choa Chu Kang North, says the ‘pop pop’ sound of pickleball volleys have been disrupting their sleep and impacting their quality of life for months now.
“The non-stop tapping of pickleball paddles on plastic balls goes right through closed windows and earplugs. It’s impossible to get a decent night’s rest with the constant thwacking sound effects,” lamented Lim.
Lim first lodged a complaint with the town council in April after pickleball’s popularity surged during the pandemic, bringing the courts alive every evening with enthusiastic novice and intermediate players.
Lim had hoped the town council would impose an earlier curfew, such as 8pm, on the nightly pickleball play. However the town council responded that pickleball playing hours were set at 7am to 10pm daily under existing guidelines.
“While we sympathize with Mr Lim’s concerns, the pickleball courts were installed by the town council to promote an active lifestyle for residents. We have an obligation to balance the interests of all residents who wish to utilize these public facilities,” said a town council spokesperson.
The spokesperson added that the 10pm cutoff was consistent with other sports facilities, and noted that noise levels have been tested and found to be within acceptable limits.
But Lim remains adamant that the pickleball din is excessively disruptive for residents living within earshot of the courts. “The town council should review the guidelines to take into account the impact on residents. This is a very densely populated estate,” Lim argued.
Lim has tried appealing directly to the pickleball players to keep the noise down, but says the players insist they have a right to use the courts until 10pm. Lim has also attempted using earplugs and headphones to block the noise, but says it is still audible.
As a last resort, Lim has started an online petition calling for earlier pickleball curfews in residential areas. The petition has garnered over 200 signatures, showing Lim is not alone in this gripe.
“I hope the town council will reconsider its stance if enough residents speak up. This is negatively affecting our sleep patterns. The town council has a duty to ensure residents can live peacefully,” said Lim.
But other Yew Tee residents point out that an earlier curfew would deprive enthusiastic pickleballers of prime playing time after work and school hours.
“A lot of us office workers only get to play in the evenings. I don’t think it’s fair to penalize us when we are abiding by the 10pm rule,” said Guo Peixin, an amateur pickleball player and Yew Tee resident.
Guo also argued the health benefits of pickleball outweighed any localized noise pollution issues. “This is about promoting an active lifestyle. Pickleball is a healthy social activity that should be encouraged.”
Michael Lim, president of the Singapore Pickleball Association, says pickleball’s popularity has skyrocketed here due to its accessibility. “It’s an easy sport to learn and get hooked on. Many neighborhoods have been activating underutilized badminton courts for pickleball,” said Lim.
With passions running high on both sides of this potential curfew conundrum, Yew Tee residents hope a compromise can be found between pickleball enthusiasts and noise-sensitive residents.
Perhaps designating a small number of courts specifically for evening pickleball could concentrate the noise away from residential blocks while still providing adequate outlets for active residents.
For Lim Poh Hwee though, the town council holds the key to restoring the evening tranquility of the neighborhood. “I hope the town council will be sympathetic and agree to even a small curfew adjustment, like 9pm. This would make a big difference for residents.”