Pickleball player banned from Manhattan Park after turf war with kids

The city has served up some bad news for pickleball lovers.

The trendy racquet sport has been banned at a West Village playground, where parents complained for months that adult pickleball fans were taking over the asphalt court and making it impossible for kids to have fun.

Corporal John A. Seravalli Playground in Manhattan’s West Village had two courts designated exclusively for the tennis lite game, but many adults were so desperate for their pickleball fix that they built their own nets and courts in the children’s playgrounds set up.

A sign alerting players to the ban
Parks authorities have banned pickleball at the West Village’s Seravalli playground after overzealous adult players invaded children enjoying the park.
Georgett Roberts/NY Post

Up to 12 games were happening simultaneously on fine days, and some frustrated parents were directing their children to play through the illegal games to reclaim their spot at the park, The Post reported in October.

But on Thursday, the Parks Department had announced the end of the racket with a small sign that read, “Pickleball is no longer allowed at Seravalli Playground.”

The sign’s fine print, first reported by Gothamist, directed disenchanted wannabe players to three other neighborhood parks where the newly popular sport was allowed.

Maria Torres, 28, comes to the park at least three times a week with the children she looks after. Torres said the new rules were a net gain for the kids, who clambered around the playground, kicked a ball and shot baskets on Thursday afternoon.

“Now we can walk around. We can do all these activities,” she said of the children in her care.

Pickleball players and children play at Corporal John A. Seravalli's playground on Friday, September 23, 2022 in New York, NY
Before the ban, the park was littered with as many as 12 dozen makeshift pitches, to the dismay of parents and children, who sometimes suspended games as the turf war heated up.
New York Post

“We have so much space,” she said, looking around. “Before, there wasn’t enough space. We have limited our space. We limit our games because we don’t want to disturb them, but now that we have all the space it’s better.”

Another nanny, Helen Chicklas, 27, told the Post that kids at the park are much happier now that they’re not being bullied by adult pickleball players.

“I saw them yelling at kids when the kids’ balls went into their pitch. “Watch where your ball flies,” shouted one of the players. The kids were old enough not to cry, but that was wrong,” Chicklas said.

“They felt they were entitled to the space. I don’t think they take care of the kids.”

Robert Feigen, 74, who often comes to the park to roller-skate, also celebrated the move, claiming the overzealous pickleball players were to blame for the childish argument.

“If they stuck to two places it would be fine, but they took over. I’m kind of glad they’re gone. I didn’t like the fact that they took over,” Feigen said.

“The pickle ball players [were] always here. You couldn’t beat her. One group would bring down a net and another group would take over that space so it was impossible.

“They had up to seven dishes. it was crazy I used to come here and I felt so sad,” he said.

Now that the harrowing cross-court action has been banned, Feigen said the park is “roller skate heaven.”

“I [had] actually given up [skating here]. All summer I went down to the river instead. I took the train to Central Park a few times,” he said.

“I’m happy now. Oh yeah, I’m having a good time,” he said, laughing as he rolled around the park in circles with no obstacles.

Pickleball players and children play at Corporal John A. Seravalli's playground on Friday, September 23, 2022 in New York, NY
The sport’s skyrocketing popularity had prompted lawmakers to urge the city to create more spaces for players.
New York Post

At nearby William Passannante Ballfield at Houston Street and 6th Avenue and the Gertrude Kelly Playground near 8th Avenue and 16th Street, kids and teens jumped rope, skateboarded, or played basketball and soccer, but there were no pickleball games on Thursday afternoon. Players on the sanctioned pitches.

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, pickleball was the fastest-growing sport in the US for the second straight year, with nearly five million players coast-to-coast.

After hearing sour grapes from New Yorkers jostling for court time, lawmakers urged the city to name official pickleball courts in the counties earlier this year.

Pickleball has exploded in popularity and that’s great. But competition for space on playgrounds has created tensions.” tweeted Councilor Erik Bottcher, a Democrat representing the West Village, in October as the turf war heated up.

“Families are angry because pickleball players are pulling their own spots in areas used by children. It’s not cool and we’re working on it @NYCParks on solutions.”

“It’s always our goal to provide balanced access between all the different sports and activities that our regular parkgoers enjoy,” Parks Department press secretary Izzy Verdery told The Post of the ban on Seravalli and new nearby courts.

The agency’s website highlighted 11 other city parks with dedicated areas for the burgeoning sport, in addition to the three parks it directed players to at Village and Chelsea.

“Many of our recreation centers offer an introduction to the sport through exercises, clinics and games with other members. Be sure to look for a pickleball class near you!” the website reads.

The sport’s increasing popularity had also squeezed officials in Ridgewood, NJ, this summer after a spate of complaints emerged about seniors making too much noise on the court.

Complaints from nearby residents continued even after the leafy suburb’s village council spent $20,000 to erect soundproof fences and required players to use noise-reducing balls and bats.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/08/pickleball-players-banned-from-manhattan-park-after-turf-war-with-kids/ Pickleball player banned from Manhattan Park after turf war with kids

JACLYN DIAZ

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