Dec. 21, 2022 | Amy Porter
WESTFIELD – Westfield Pickleball Association President Dena Polverari last week asked city officials not to close their courts over the winter.
Polverari said competitions organized by her group have become popular year-round, and even during the winter the weather is often nice enough to play. She said the group has purchased plastic shovels, and will not run snowblowers or use sharp implements to chip ice on the Municipal Playground courts.
“The group is willing to work within any guidelines,” she said.
Scott Hathaway, the public works deputy superintendent responsible for parks, had recommended closing the courts off Greylock Street because they had suffered damage in previous winters, and because the nearby restrooms are now closed for the season.
When asked about prior damage, Polverari said some ice chipping was done prior to last winter, but in 2021-22, “we abided by your rules.” She added that keeping the courts open will mean pickleball players will be around to keep an eye on them.
“With you all being down there, there’s less of a chance” of damage, agreed Commissioner Ken Magarian. He said the first and second winter, damage did happen. He also said he has an issue with the restrooms being closed.
Hathaway was unable to attend the Dec. 12 meeting.
Commissioner Michael Tirrell asked if the city could be held responsible for injuries if there is ice on the court during pickleball games. Polverari said members are covered through USA Pickleball, but not everybody who plays is a member.
“It’s a tough call,” Polverari said. “As a physical education teacher, I like to see all parks being used.” She said she wanted to come on behalf of the association regarding the agenda item.
“Can we take it one step at a time and see how it goes,” asked Magarian.
“From my perspective, I wouldn’t be prepared to close them tonight, but I also wouldn’t be prepared to say they won’t be closed at some point,” Tirrell said.
The commission took no action on Hathaway’s request at the meeting.
In other business, Westfield Veterans Services Director Julie Barnes brought a proposal to place a memorial to Iraq War veterans in Parker Park. She said half of the funding will come from a Shrab grant, and half from the Historical Commission.
LaBombard asked if Barnes had spoken to Hathaway about placement of the memorial, and she said they had met. The new memorial will be placed in the spring, near a smaller one recognizing Desert Storm veterans.
Joseph Delaney of the Veterans Council also asked for the commission to renew its annual list of events, and to add a new one on Patriots Day. Delaney said they would like to host the Flags of Honor inside Parker Park this year.
Delaney said the Flags of Honor is a Kiwanis event, and that group fully supports the move. For the past six years in the fall, Kiwanis has sponsored the To Serve and Protect Park of Honor on the lawn of Westfield Middle School. Supporters can purchase an American flag to be displayed in honor of veterans or first responders.
Magarian, a longtime Kiwanis member, said they had originally wanted to place the Flags of Honor in Parker Park, but couldn’t because the trees obstructed the view of passers-by.
“That was always a desire,” he said.
Ward 3 Commissioner Vincent Olinski asked to be mindful of the abutting neighbors if the lights are on all night.
Barnes said the neighbors have been supportive of the events held in the park, coming to many of them.