Katie Culleton chases after a stray ball during a game of pickleball with her husband Chris, Wednesday,June 8, 2022, in Norway, Maine. Credit: Andree Kehn / AP

A Castine group that wants to build pickleball courts in town said it will keep looking for local sites after voters rejected constructing some at a town-owned beach.

The group, Friends of Castine Pickleball, had sought residents’ approval to build three pickleball courts at Backshore Beach, a public beach on Wadsworth Cove Road where there is a tidal swimming pond, a sand volleyball court and a bocce court. But voters this week rejected the proposal by a 71-34 tally.

“Many in town thought the backshore to go enjoy the shore,” Shawn Blodgett, Castine’s town manager, said about concerns that were raised at Monday’s discussion. Most voters seemed concerned that noise from people playing on the courts could disrupt their enjoyment of the beach, he said.

Therese Biggie, a member of the pickleball group, said Friday that she and other pickleball players in the area will continue to look for a place close to Castine’s central village where courts can be built. She said that even though the vote did not go the way group members hoped it would, she was glad that residents showed up to participate in the decision.

“Democracy in action,” Biggie said. “Moving forward, we’ll go back to considering other options. We’re regrouping and hoping to find a place that works.”

The group may consider buying or leasing land for local courts, or might make another pitch to the town, she said.

Biggie, who coaches volleyball at Maine Maritime Academy, said pickleball has a loyal following. MMA sometimes allows the public to play pickleball on temporary courts set up inside Alexander Fieldhouse, she said, but often local players have to travel roughly 10 miles to the adjacent town of Penobscot to play at that town’s elementary school.

There is a wide variety of ages among local people who play pickleball — from 8 years old to 80, she said — so the group wants the courts to be easily accessible on foot or by bicycle to people in the town’s central village.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in America,” Biggie said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....