MIDDLETOWN, NJ – (tapinto.net) Members from the Middletown community will soon have an additional sporting opportunity in one of Middletown’s Public Parks, the Middletown Township Committee announced.
During its Jan. 23 meeting, Township Committeeman Anthony Perry said the committee would look into creating a pickleball venue from four of Normandy Park’s Tennis Courts after receiving questions from two local USA Pickleball Association representatives during the meeting’s public comment portion about the latest status of a pledge the committee made last year to provide a pickleball venue at one of the town’s public parks.
“We’re looking into (locating the pickleball venue at) Normandy Park,” Perry said.
Pickleball is a sport that combines some of the features from badminton, ping-pong, and tennis; and its official rules, playing court design, equipment, designated playing locations, tournament schedule, etc. – are all set up by the USA Pickleball Association, as well as accessible online at usapa.org.
The two ambassadors; Kim Smith of Fair Haven and Bill Zuckerman of Ocean Township, explained how many people play the sport. Zuckerman also said that once the venue opens, he hopes to host the New Jersey Open for pickleball, and dedicated any funds that are raised for good causes. “I was thinking about doing an event for and donating the proceeds to either the Special Olympics or the Autism Foundation,” he said.
Following this, Middletown’s River Plaza section resident Leo Cristofoli, said there needs to be a strong commitment in Middletown schools for teaching basic life skills, civics and government, and other related topics. “There needs to be improvement in (education for) civics, state and U.S. government, the constitution,” he said. “It has to be taken seriously, because the discussion (in this country) right now is not really intelligent.”
In addition to the public comments, the committee members made some remarks about various topics; such as local relief efforts for those affected by the government shutdown, a tribute to recently passed away EMS member Paul Ryder, easing of local business regulations, and a reflection of a recent renovation project for a fire engine. “Hats off to the River Plaza Fire Company for raising $50,000 for refurbishing the fire engine,” Committeeman and Deputy Mayor Fiore said. “It’ll give them at least ten more years out of that fire truck.”
Committeeman Rick Hibell said he was glad to have been able to get the committee to make it easier for local businesses and restaurants to set up shop here in Middletown. “It’s just great to see the ability of the administration, the committee, and all those involved in trying to bring in new business,” Hibell said.
Committeeman Anthony Perry said he was grateful to have been able to speak at a memorial tribute service for Paul Ryder, who served as an EMS volunteer for Middletown for 50 years and has recently passed away.
“It was not a room full of mourning, it was a celebration of this man’s life and dedication to Middletown,” Perry said, “So I just appreciate the Ryder family for inviting me to this location. Fifty years is a long time to give to one’s town and community.”
Perry also announced that the Middletown Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Jersey Shore Chief Petty Officers’ Association was collecting donations for federal workers who are not getting paychecks because of the gov’t shutdown; and that a full list of where one can drop off donations will be listed in the Middletown Minute publication in the coming days.
“Any donations to the men and women who have decided to stand up and fight for our freedom will be appreciated,” Perry said. “I think we can help them out in this time of need.”
After the meeting, Zuckerman offered additional comment about his organization’s pickleball venue proposal, saying the new pickleball venue will hopefully make that area more appealing to local businesses, visitors and prospective new residents, as well as improve local quality of life.
“It would bring people to the area, as well as benefit the local businesses,” he said. “It’s (also) a health benefit for senior citizens who are a major part of the tax base but don’t really benefit from the Middletown Township Recreation Dept.”
Zimmerman said pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S.; and is becoming very popular for people of all ages, but especially among those aged 55 and up.
“Recruiting players is not an issue,” he said. “People are busting at the seams to play the sport. Even the elementary and middle schools are teaching it now.”
Kim Smith said she was very happy to hear that the township may soon be moving forward with the pickleball venue.
“It’s great news,” she said. “We’re very excited that we’re going to have this at Normandy Park. It’s a great location, and they’re going to put lights up. Having lights is key, we play at night.”