Council members throw up hands in pickleball noise debacle

Pickleball courts in downtown Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 30, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

HURRICANE — Hurricane City Council has apparently had enough of one family’s persistent pleas to have something done about the noise produced by a city pickleball court.

Scott and Debra Johnson have attended City Council meetings consistently for the better part of a year, airing their grievances about the pickleball court every time.

Scott Johnson was on Thursday afternoon’s meeting official agenda for consideration and possible decision regarding excessive noise and nuisance at the pickleball courts. The ensuing discussion offered a lot of consideration but no decision on the matter.

The Johnsons display a sign at their residence thanking neighboring signatories of a petition concerning the noisy pickleball court, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 6, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
The Johnsons display a sign at their residence thanking neighboring signatories of a petition concerning the noisy pickleball court, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 6, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The council previously moved to accommodate the Johnsons by changing the court’s closing time from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m., but the closing time was later moved back to 11 p.m. during daylight savings time.

Although his previous protestations focused on his inability to get a proper night’s sleep due to the court’s 11 p.m. closing time, at the meeting Scott Johnson instead focused his complaints on the disturbance during the day time. He said he wished he could sit in his back yard and not be bothered when players use the court.

“I’ve been here six years arguing about the noise … and you haven’t done a thing about the noise,” Scott Johnson said.

Members of the council seemed unmoved by the Johnsons’ new complaints and offered numerous retorts.

I’m just being blunt; I can’t imagine that being a nuisance,” council member Kevin Tervort said.

Council member Cheryl Reed said it should be clarified that what the Johnsons are experiencing should be considered an annoyance rather than a nuisance, stating that it can only be considered a nuisance if it is harmful.

“We’ve got to start telling the cars to stop going up and down the highway because they’re louder than the pickleball,” City Manager Clark Fawcett said satirically.

Scott Johnson said he was promised a sound wall by a city official when he first complained six years ago, but when pressed to name the person who made the promise, he said he could not recall any specific individual.

“But you’re not going to go away with the issue until there’s no pickleball,” council member Darin Larson said. “The question is not mitigating the noise. You want to get rid of the pickleball.”

Scott Johnson insisted it was about the noise levels and suggested possibly requiring a quieter type of pickleballs and paddles.

“I just don’t think that’s our position that we need to do that,” Larson said.

Mayor John Bramall personally investigated the matter at an earlier date. He said he found the decibel levels produced by the court to average 82, well below the approximately 100 decibels required for the sound to be considered a nuisance by measure of the city’s noise ordinance. He noted that the city chambers where the meeting took place measured at about 80 decibels while normal volume conversations were taking place during a break in the meeting.

Maybe we can give the Johnsons some earphones so they can listen to something else in the evening,” council member Pam Humphries said.

“We hired you people with our vote,” Debra Johnson said. “You don’t own anything, but you’ve given people rights all the time to break the law. The laws that were set long before you got here.”

“But laws aren’t set in stone, they evolve,” Humphries said.

“You want to give certain people more rights than other people. That’s what you’re doing. My new vote won’t be for any of you,” Debra Johnson said.

After nearly forty minutes of back-and-forth, the council appeared eager to move to the next item on the agenda.

“We’re not going to solve this,” Humphries said. “They’re not going to be happy and we’re not going to be happy, or the public’s not going to be happy.”

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  • debbie October 20, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    well he came to my house very nice and explaining his situation. i felt he should get heard. i therefore signed the petition.. also i’ve always wanted hurricane to bring tennis back. however, i side with both sides.. people should get to play pickle ball and this gentleman should feel like people care.. then I decided to google pickleball to get a sense of how loud it gets and i found this is a regular issue in neighborhoods. this gentlemen might not be out of line as some are acting he is.. in other counties and states the loudness of pickleball is hitting the council meetings.. here is some research and maybe an answer someone came up with.. (this is the only research i ONE VIDEO SUMS IT ALL UP)… maybe people should just be required ot use the softer ball AND maybe we should remember that sound is louder at night.. don’t we all have to turn our tvs down at night?

  • Bowlinggreen123 October 20, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Just start blaring some music just loud enough to drown out the pickle ballers.

    Whoever came up with this stupid activity should be drawn and quartered.

  • voice of reason October 21, 2016 at 6:30 am

    I think it’s time to schedule a pickleball tournament on the street in front of each council members home. 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. should do the trick.

  • [email protected] October 21, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Thanks again to all those who said they supported my rights. I thank you who left comments on this site. The city council needs to hear from you. ( they will not listen to me about noise.Its not about the lights or daylight savings time , standard time. (The noise! )If I need earplugs there is probably a problem. Scott Johnson.

    • RealMcCoy October 21, 2016 at 10:46 am

      I still don’t understand why they don’t just move the pickle ball courts up next to the ballfields. They play ball until 11pm a lot, but it’s so far from the neighborhoods that no one cares.
      There is a HUGE dirt field there just waiting for a good use.

  • thegreatone October 21, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Kudos to the city council for putting this silly issue to rest. THe Johnsons need to get a life and move on.

  • [email protected] October 21, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Is not over yet greatone.Just getting started Scott Johnson.

    • RealMcCoy October 21, 2016 at 10:43 am

      I suggest recording the pickle ball sounds and noise, then playing it back DURING the next council meeting. Let them try to discuss business with that noise playing in the background.
      They may suck it up for the first meeting, but the second or third meeting they’ll be telling you to ‘stop that racket’.
      Case closed.

    • EasyNuts October 21, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      First of all Scott I don’t expect you to move to expect quiet. But let me make some “I” statements that I own. If I was you, I would find a happier median. For example, I would ask that the auto-lighting be turned off at night at the old time i.e. 10pm. That is absolutely reasonable, especially at a park. I love napping in the daytime with the windows at my place down. The kindergartners, Monday-Friday like clockwork from 1pm-3pm, always go up and down the sidewalk with scooters that is loud. I personally hate the sound not the kids. Likewise, you hate the sound not the pickleballers. The folks that pickleball would make the case that they paid for the roads to get to the park, the courts they play on, court maintenance, and the bill for electricity to keep the lights on.

      I feel your issue can best be summed up by you wanting something from a government agency and not getting it. Period. If your passionate about getting rid of the courts, I would lean towards your original request years back and ask for a wall. No “Trump” pun intended.

      • Bob October 21, 2016 at 8:35 pm

        thats not a pun

        • .... October 21, 2016 at 10:30 pm

          You’re right Dumbob. the only pun here is you !

  • Ron October 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    It is appalling that the Hurricane City Council members would treat these tax paying, voting residents in such a horrific unprofessional manner. And they call themselves “public servants”? Yeah right….more like public scoundrels!
    You council members should be ashamed of yourselves to be so humiliating and demeaning to residents of your city. The Johnsons have a valid, legitimate concern with what you have allowed to continue. This merely shows your contempt for citizens calling you out to do your job you swore to do. Have you council members forgotten who it is you work for? Who you represent? I’m certain there is a middle ground you all can come to regarding this issue. You just don’t want to dot it! You have to show all the other residents “who’s the boss” in Hurricane.
    Sure, you like all the tax dollars that is received by the City. It allows you all to go forward with your pet projects in Hurricane.

    “Maybe we can give the Johnsons some earphones so they can listen to something else in the evening.” How condescending!
    “We’re not going to solve this…” “Humphries said….”. So, Councilor Humphries, what good are you doing if you can’t solve it? If you feel inadequate in your job as a Council member, then maybe you all should just resign and let others have a crack at it to solve it….since you admit you can’t.
    “But laws aren’t set in stone, they evolve” Yep, just like council members are NOT council members forever….they too, evolve. As in get replaced.
    “I just don’t think it’s our position that we need to do that”, “Larson said” REALLY??? Who else’s position should IT be? Aren’t you guys the governing body of the City of Hurricane? Should it be the Cemetery Dept. “position? Or lets see…..the Airport Authority’s “position? Public Works “position?
    The manner in which you treat your residents in a public forum is a disgrace! Highly unprofessional and demeaning! You all should be ashamed of yourselves. You all owe the Johnsons a public apology. The mere fact that they have been coming before the Council for six years is itself an indication that something is wrong. Is this how you address/treat your residents concerns?, because if it is, I am really glad I don’t reside in your City with some very uncaring, rude and unprofessional, (qualified?) city administrators.

  • Bob October 21, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    convert it to a tennis court

    • .... October 21, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Hey Dumbob convert yourself into a tennis ball ! then I can sit back and watch you get smacked around by people who couldn’t care less what you think

  • Dolly October 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with Ron. How rude and condescending of the council to make such comments. I feel they do owe the Johnson family a public apology. I am glad I don’t live in Hurricane as well. Hearing that bop, bop, bop must be akin to hearing your faucet drip constantly when you are trying to sleep. It is not necessarily loud, decibel-wise, but it eats away at your peace and quiet and ability to sleep. Day after day of the same irritation would surely take a toll on one’s serenity. I know the Johnsons don’t wish to move, but even if they did…as a prospective buyer I would not consider buying a property near a pickelball court, a school, or a ballfield, because I don’t want the extra traffic and noise around my home. When you are situated next to city property, you just never know what some city official has up his (or her) sleeve.

  • debbie October 21, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I LIKE BOBS IDEA!!! tennis courts AND a wall! put the wall on mr. johnsons side A. because it will help with sounds.. B. because tennis walls are great for someone who doesn’t have a partner! hitting the ball agains’t the wall is an alternative exersize when no one can come that day. you could advertise on the other side of the wall movies and activities going on with the hurricane community center/recreation center etc. you could advertise festivals.. lots of stuff. the wall could be made pretty.. you could sell advertisement and make a little money for the city (don’t know if that is allowed) OR.. you could change it into basketball courts and move the tennis AND pickle balls courts to the little piece of land someone else mentioned… now that i know mr. johnson is really unhappy with the sounds.. i would love to go play and ask him later if it bothered him.. the last court (was a tennis court) (we were told when they were tearing it down that the “new” tennis courts were being built just around the corner.. imagine our frustration when we excitedly showed up to play with our TENNIS RAQUETS and realized it wasn’t a tennis ball court.. we walked round and round and round that court area trying to find at least one area to it that was for tennis.. and none were.. they made the WHOLE thing pickle ball.. the tennis courts got used alot at night.. that part is the trouble for mr. johnson.. this is a great area to play tennis.. the air is dry the courts are stay in pretty good shape, it doesn’t rain.. but the sun is so bright and harsh during the day… that is why people play in the evenings.. if they are ill and need the exersize there is no way they can play well during the day, it could cause health problems.. so mr. johnson, just know its really not people not caring about your peace… but, the last tennis court was built by the highway and bothered NO ONE.. the highschool parking lot took it away. so maybe, it could be built elsewhere… maybe the courts we have now could be turned into a city farmers market? wouldn’t that be nice if we had one like st. george? well.. these are my thoughts.. mr. johnson does count b/c we are not a socialist society and only the majority counts.. we are a society that cares about everyone and makes adjustments as needed. even ONE citizen counts. ps. people that don’t understand why socialism is a bad thing.. this is a prime example. may i suggest that the pickleball sounds are conduced somehow by being so close to the johnsons home.. it could really be super loud IN their home.. and in their back yard.

  • RedMint October 23, 2016 at 5:58 am

    The court must order Scott and Debra Johnson to win a pickleball tournament, thereafter the pickleball courts will be closed if the Johnson’s decide so. Alternatively, they should try earphones and an mp3 players to listen to sounds of nature recordings. It’s a great idea even should one be far away from any noise pollution. Or maybe put up some acoustic foam tiles up in the bedroom to absorb noise like they use in the sound studios. I also like the tennis ball wall idea. In fact, the Johnson’s should build it and rake in the wall’s advertising revenue as compensation for the noise pollution.

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