(WSVN) - Pickleball is one of the fastest growing games in the country, but for some Fort Lauderdale residents, the sport has gone sour. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has the story in tonight’s 7 Investigates.

This is a game of pickleball. The popular sport is described as a cross between ping-pong, tennis and badminton.

Fans say it’s addictive.

Brad Tuckman, My Park Initiative: “It’s fun.”

Mark Eiglarsh: “It’s something that everyone can enjoy.”

And with more people playing here in South Florida comes the need for more courts.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis: “I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”

In early November, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission approved a controversial proposal to bring pickleball to Snyder Park. It allows a private developer to build a pickleball complex on eight acres in this public park.

Supporters were thrilled, but many people who live near the park are livid.

Ted Inserra: “The residents in this area do not want this to happen, period.”

Snyder Park is 94 acres of tropical hardwood hammocks, lakes and nature trails. Longtime residents like Ted Inserra are afraid the influx of people and cars could cause damage to this pristine land.

Ted Inserra: “The emissions from the cars is so bad on the canopy, on the trees.”

And they are concerned about large pickleball crowds in this peaceful place.

Nancy Long: “When you bring in tournaments that big in such a small area, this density, it takes away our lives.”

The plan is to use this land in the southwest corner of Snyder Park. The complex will be developed by the Fort Lauderdale-based company My Park Initiative and will include 42 pickleball courts and more.

Brad Tuckman: “There’ll be a restaurant, there’ll be lakeside area, there’ll be a beach that’s rejuvenated, so you can actually go with your family, enjoy a park, how you remember it, how it used to be.”

There will be a fee to use the facility, and it’s the public-private partnership that Kristen Snyder doesn’t like.

Kristen Snyder: “I think he’s rolling over in his grave.”

She is talking about her great-great uncle, Byron Snyder, who sold the land to the city in 1966.

Kristen Snyder: “He sold the land for the purpose of preserving natural Fort Lauderdale, and to find out that the proposed facility is eight acres, that’s 15% of the entire park.”

Kristen recently found a sales deed, which includes a restriction saying the land “shall not be used for commercial purposes, but shall forever be used and maintained as a public park.”

Since the city and My Park Initiative will share the proceeds, Kristen feels the complex will commercialize the park.

Kristen Snyder: “Anybody making profit off that land, to that extreme, doesn’t feel like a public service anymore.”

7 Investigates asked the city about that old sales contract. The mayor’s office says it’s looking into it.

So is a team from My Park Initiative.

Brad Tuckman: “But as far as we’re concerned, the deal is done, but if that is the case, it needs to be addressed.”

As of now, plans for the pickleball courts are moving forward. Ground breaking for the new facility is set for April of next year.

Kevin Ozebek, 7News.

The mayor’s office says it is still reviewing and analyzing the documents relating to Snyder Park. As of now, it has no further comment.


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