One outspoken pickleball enthusiast, John Henry Bohlken, has been complaining as loud as he can about the way Guilford County is handling the pickleball courts operation at Bur-Mil Park – and this week Guilford County Parks Director Dwight Godwin said that a coming new contract with the private providers will be significantly different than the existing one.
Godwin said county officials have been listening to Bohlken’s concerns and reevaluating the agreement, and the county’s pickleball offerings are new, so it’s not surprising there are some issues to be worked out from the original contract. He said those concerns would be addressed in a new contract that will be renegotiated and signed this summer.
Bohlken spoke about the pickleball situation at a Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting in February, presented numerous documents to the county, and brought the matter to the attention of Guilford County’s legal department.
Precision Instruction, in partnership with Carolina Tennis & Paddle, provides programming – some free and some paid – including pickleball lessons, league play and tournaments at the county’s courts.
Bohlken had multiple objections including what he said were the way the private providers hogged the courts for their own purposes, didn’t share enough of the profits with the county and didn’t offer transparency in those dealings to ensure proper accountability.
Godwin said it’s true that tournaments sometimes take over the pickleball courts, but he added that, even if a tournament is going on, the county makes sure some courts are open for free use by the public.
Bohlken told the Rhino Times that he had considered hiring a lawyer to help get changes made. However, he stressed that he never had any intent to sue the county. He said he thought hiring an attorney might help expedite the proposed changes.
“I’m not trying to be adversarial,” he said, adding that he just hoped to be an impetus for the county to correct the problems.
He told the Guilford County commissioners in February, as a public speaker a meeting, that the private provider has “kind of bogarted and commandeered our property for their personal gain.”
Pickleball is a sport that takes some characteristics from tennis, badminton and ping-pong and the game is very popular among many older people and those with limited abilities because it doesn’t require as much movement as tennis.
Godwin said this week that pickleball has seen explosive growth in Guilford County. Last year, the Guilford County Parks Department reconfigured some of the existing tennis courts at Bur-Mil Park into 10 permanent pickleball courts. Godwin said that the tennis courts were getting some use before that transition, but not anything like the new smaller courts that serve the pickleball craze.