When a group of players met Tuesday evening for their regular games at Homewood Park, they were disappointed to see “shameful” acts of vandalism that damaged the fencing around their playing surface.
It is “shameful that there are a few people who disrespect this new facility,” said Tim Payne, a pickleball instructor.
Stan Cleaveley, the city’s supervisor of parks, said the fence was damaged some time Monday night.
“Both the north and south gates have damage along with the top rail and a few of the posts were damaged also,” said Cleaveley, who noted Orillia OPP is investigating the incident.
He said a contractor has been called and the city is awaiting a quote for the repairs.
“Staff have straightened some of the posts and the courts can continue to be used at this time,” said Cleaveley.
Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke said the vandalism is “disheartening.”
“It is very disheartening to see vandalism of any sort throughout Orillia, particularly when it takes away from the enjoyment of our beautiful parks,” said Clarke.
“The pickleball courts at Homewood Park are a very popular amenity and to have them compromised by senseless acts of vandalism does nothing but cost the taxpayer money for repairs and impact those who use the courts.”
Payne said the city’s only outdoor pickleball court is popular. He noted several citizens “worked in tandem with the city” to get the outdoor courts built.
Before the fence was erected, people were riding bikes and scooters on the court, marring its surface. Some people also seemed to enjoy sitting on the net, causing it to droop and sag.
“The fencing seemed to end this practice,” said Payne, who added the fence also helps corral wayward balls and avoids a “risky situation” of players chasing the balls as the court’s edge is abutted by a slope in some areas.
Payne said it’s sad to see the vandalism.
“Hopefully, this is not a targeted vendetta against the public using a portion of the former (basketball court) for pickleball but, instead, an equally troubling case of a few bored persons looking to show off their disregard for public property,” Payne told OrilliaMatters.
“These pickleball courts seem to be well received by the neighbourhood and visiting players. Having public outdoor pickleball courts is still a new activity option for Orillia,” he explained. “Not too many activities are completely free to use by almost any age groups.”
This is not the first act of vandalism at the park. In the past, there has been graffiti scrawled on the bathroom building and pavilion and vehicles have driven on the grass, tearing up the ground.
In addition, on three separate occasions, a special flag was stolen from the Jacob Noble Memorial Playground at the park.