Millville Park Project

The new Millville town park is nearly complete, with its nautical-themed playground in place and pickleball courts under construction. The park won't be able to open until the state reaches Phase 3 of reopening, but council members are discussing how to ensure fair access to the courts for players of the popular sport.

The Millville Town Council at its Tuesday, Oct. 13, meeting voted to commission a study to help them plan for future capital improvement projects.

Council Treasurer Sharon Brienza said the need for a capital reserve study came to the fore last month, when the council discussed the possible purchase of property. Brienza said she was “surprised to learn” there was no study of the Town’s likely upcoming capital improvement projects, she said.

The council voted 5-0 to commission the engineering firm George, Miles & Buhr to complete the study, at a cost of $7,000.

Council Secretary Barbara Ryer raised an objection to the Town not getting a second bid for the study, to which Brienza responded that George, Miles & Buhr already had all of the pertinent data it would need, and if another firm was hired, the Town would have to recreate the data for them.

Even though, by law, the Town doesn’t have to get a second bid, Ryer said she felt the Town should, just out of “due diligence.”

The council also considered a similar study for the new town park but decided to table that, since the park isn’t even open yet and future needs are difficult to assess at this time.

The longest discussion of the meeting, however, involved the park — its pickleball courts, to be exact.

During a discussion about setting rules for the court, which is not yet completed, Deputy Mayor Ronald Belinko, who plays the game regularly, suggested a time limit be put on court use to keep players from monopolizing the courts.

Belinko suggested setting a limit of one hour, or one game.

“It has to be simple,” he said, while acknowledging that the Town won’t have any one monitoring the use of the courts.

Mayor Steve Maneri interjected that he felt the court use should be limited to one game, and that an hour was too long for one group to have use of a court.

“It should be an 11-point game, and out,” Maneri said. “I don’t believe one team should be able to stay in there for one hour.”

Belinko, however, said that, depending on the experience level of the players, a game could be over in as little as 10 minutes.

He said he and Town Manager Deborah Botchie have started looking into whether the courts could be used by pickleball organizations for tournaments. Botchie, he said, has been looking into how nearby Ocean City, Md.’s recreational facilities handle such events.

“That gets pretty expensive, for cleanup,” after an event, Belinko said. “There’s all kinds of people coming and going all day long,” during tournaments, he said. “There could be massive cleanup.”

He suggested coming up with a price for use of the facility for tournaments that would ensure the Town would not lose money after cleanup costs are factored in.

The subject of opening and closing times also came up in reference to the courts.

“The big question here is … we have park rules that we’re open from sunrise to sunset. We have a lighted pickleball court. Are we going to have another set of rules for the pickleball court, as far as lights are concerned?” Belinko asked. “Starting in two weeks, it’ll be dark at 5 o’clock. Pickleball players play until the first snowfall, and then they’ll clear the snow and play again,” he said.

Belinko said the council needs to decide if they want to spend $40,000 on lights for the court, and how they will be used.

He said there are already rules and times set for the park, including the time it will be open, and asked, “Are we going to have a separate set of rules for the pickleball courts?”

“How badly do you guys want lights on the pickleball courts?” Brienza asked.

Maneri pointed out that the court lighting could become an issue when the Parkside development, adjacent to the park, is built.

The council voted 4-1, with Maneri the sole “no” vote, to set rules for the pickleball court and to leave the maximum court time at one hour if there are people waiting to play.

Staff Reporter

Kerin majored in journalism at Ohio University and has worked as an editor and reporter for monthly, daily and weekly publications in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1983. A native of Baltimore, Md., she has lived in Ocean View since 1996.