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Pickleball panic in Greenwich Village as pushy players invade playgrounds, squeeze out little kids

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | D-Day saw the Allies storm the Normandy beaches. Now, pickleball fanatics are swarming and taking over the parks and playgrounds of Greenwich Village and other parts of Manhattan — and little kids are being shunted aside. Call it the “P-Day invasion.”

“The pickleball groups are very organized,” Ken Blacklow, a Greenwich Village dad who has been leading the anti-pickleball resistance, said ominously. “This isn’t new. This is strategic. It’s an effort to build out pickleball.”

If you read The Village Sun’s recent article about the new sports craze on (“Addicted to the pickle: New racket sport is totally whack”), you know that pickleball is sweeping Manhattan’s playgrounds and parks.

Then again, if you live near one of the new pickleball hubs, you’re probably already more than familiar — whether you like it or not — with the constant loud pinging and popping of pickleballs being smacked by rackets, along with the shouts, groans and occassional curses of players after they flub a shot. (Quiet foam balls could give relief to neighbors but players don’t use them, preferring the loud “pickle” sound, as one of them recently told The Village Sun).

In a pickle, from left, Eric Penn, Beth Rasin (with net packed up in carrying bag), Mara Rogers, Barbara Hochstein and Naphtali Offen at St. Vartan Park in Murray Hill. Offen said he was in town from San Francisco, had brought his paddle and found the game. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Local pickleball groups have hundreds, some even more than 1,000 members. Out-of-towners are packing their paddles and coming into New York City to jump in a game — like one visiting San Franciscan recently playing pickleball at St. Vartan Park, at 35th Street and Second Avenue, who The Village Sun spoke with.

Beth Rasin, who “pickles” on the St. Vartan handball courts, complained about the Parks Department having covered over the park’s nearby blacktop softball field with astroturf, charging that it’s keeping pickleballers from claiming even more space for games. Rasin keeps a net in her building lobby for anyone in her 800-member pickleball group to use.

Pickle enthusiasts like that the sport is easy to play and very social. And as one player at St. Vartan noted, “It’s not just for the over-55 crowd.” Twentysomethings and thirtysomethings are all in on the trendy game.

However, as much as its players relish the sport, pickleball is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of some local parents, who say their kids are getting squeezed out of their traditional play spaces.

Things came to head last Thursday when a group of Greenwich Village parents — about a half dozen — turned out at the monthly Community Board 2 full-board meeting to rail against pickleballers increasingly dominating Seravalli Playground, at Horatio and Hudson Streets. The parents seethed that the adult players are brazenly painting down their own lines for their courts — without official permission — and hogging the space from tykes, who now can no longer ride their trikes and bikes and play in those areas.

Some parents reportedly wonder where exactly local Councilmember Erik Bottcher stands on the issue — since he has appeared in at least one selfie with the alleged leader of the local pickleball invasion, a woman named Katherine Hedden. Then again, though, as one parent noted, Bottcher takes a lot of selfies with people.

The Village Sun reached out to Bottcher after the C.B. 2 meeting but he did not respond. However, he subsequently did quickly post a statement on social media, saying that pickleballers’ blacktop grab “isn’t cool.”

“Pickleball has exploded in popularity and that’s great,” Bottcher said. “But competition for space at playgrounds has caused tension. Families are angry b/c pickleball players are drawing their own courts on space used by children. This isn’t cool, and we’re working with @NYCParks on solutions.”


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Hedden — whom Blacklow described as “the ambassador of pickleball to Manhattan” — did not respond to a message sent to her Instagram page.

The next morning after the C.B. 2 meeting, Parks Department workers were promptly out at Seravalli Playground with graffiti-removal materials to erase the lines for unauthorized pickleball courts that had been painted on the blacktop. However, they left two existing courts there, to the chagrin of the local parents group, who say none of the pickleball courts ever received buy-in from the larger community. The Village Sun has heard from a source that Parks ultimately plans to add two more permanent pickleball courts there — for a total of four.

Parks Department workers used anti-graffiti materials to remove the painted lines for some of the pickleball courts at Seravalli Park. (Photo by Mar Fitzgerald)

Mar Fitzgerald, a C.B. 2 member and lifelong Westbeth Artists Housing resident, happened to be passing Seravalli on her way to Chelsea Market when she saw the Parks workers removing the pickleball court lines.

“The parents want the pickleball courts gone,” Fitzgerald said. “They don’t want anyone playing pickleball in Horatio. It’s such a huge footprint for pickleball,” she said of the racket players’ current sprawl at the space.

On some days, the pickleballers take over the entire playground — with up to 14 nets set up for courts for a recent tournament — Fitzgerald said. Meanwhile, her young daughter, Reagon, 12, is one of the kids who loves to play in Seravalli.

“She plays basketball, rides her skateboard, bike and scooter, and these are things that can’t really happen if there are these huge pickleball courts.”

As the little kids and adult pickleballers have invariably come into close contact, tensions have flared, and not just on the parents’ side — but among pickleballers, as well. Some of the pickleballers have been posting complaints about the young kids, some even slamming them as “rich brats.” Although the players contend the local playgrounds are underused, insulting local kids clearly isn’t generating any goodwill.

While the fate of Seravalli may still be up in the air, Passannante Playground, at West Houston Street and Sixth Avenue, sounds like it will soon be fully consumed by voracious pickleballers.

“Passannante is done, I’ve been told,” Fitzgerald said.

“Passannante has literally been transformed into all-pickleball,” Blacklow said. “If you look at the lines that have been painted there, it is a complete takeover of the space.”

A pickleball doubles game at Passannante Playground. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The Village Sun reached out to a Parks Department spokesperson back in May, asking what exactly the city’s policy is on pickleball and also about the noise from the sport’s plastic polymer balls.

“Basically, is there any pickleball policy by Parks right now, or is it kind of on a case-by-case, park-by-park basis?” the newspaper asked. “Has Parks been dealing with any noise complaints from pickleball, or mainly just dealing with the issue of trying to fill the need for more space for pickleball?”

Parks did not respond then, and also has not responded to another e-mail from the newspaper this past Friday that asked about: “the ‘takeover’ of two Greenwich Village Parks Department spaces — Seravalli Park and Passannnante Playground — by adult pickleballers.”

“Local parents are very concerned,” The Village Sun wrote to Parks, “especially in the case of Seravalli Park…saying Servalli is ‘non-permitted, open, unstructured’ space and that the two [pickleball] courts that have been added were done so with no community notification. Now, [people are] hearing the Parks Dept. wants to add two more pickleball courts there. Can you give…an update on what the Parks plan is for Seravalli and Passannante in terms of pickleball? Is there any plan?”

This last e-mail was sent to Megan Moriarty, the former Parks press officer — who, a Parks official informed The Village Sun after this article’s publication — actually left the department a few months ago. No doubt, her e-mails were being forwarded to someone, though. The Village Sun is still awaiting a response.

The Parks Department does include a pickleball section on its Web site, but none of the sport’s local hot spots, like Seravalli, Passannante and St. Vartan Park, are mentioned on it. Instead the page steers people wanting to learn the “fast-paced, fast-growing paddle game” toward Parks recreation centers.

A site called NYC Pickleball, however, does list Seravalli, Passannante and St. Vartan, as well as Sol Lain Playground on the Lower East Side.

Jeannine Kieley, the chairperson of C.B. 2, said the board only started getting word of the pickleball problems early last week. The board’s former district manager, Bob Gormley, recently retired and has not yet been replaced, and Kiely found herself answering phones at the board office last Monday, which is when she fielded a complaint about the issue from an angry parent.

Kiely noted she has seen the pickleballers in Vesuvio Playground, at Thompson and Spring Streets, near where she lives.

As she spoke to The Village Sun during a phone interview, Kiely, doing a little online research, looked around to see how much pickleball nets cost.

“One hundred and nine dollars and it looks like a yoga bag,” she said of the cheapest one she found and how it packs up neatly into a relatively small carrying case.

The players say they like the “pickle” — the loud plunk of the balls coming of the paddles. But, in quiet sections of Greenwich Village, not all residents are pleased at having to hear the daily racket. (Photo by The Village Sun)

So, not only is pickleball much easier to play than tennis — anyone can dink a plastic ball over a low net from a few feet away — but it’s also affordable, which also helps explain the sport’s exploding popularity.

Kiely said C.B. 2 doesn’t have an official position on the pickleball predicament in the playgrounds yet, basically, because the issue just erupted last week, so the board hasn’t had the chance to properly look at in a well-considered manner. There will be a  meeting on the issue on Oct. 17.

“The [C.B. 2] Parks Committee will take it up next month,” Kiely said. “First we have to gather all the facts. Obviously, we hear a lot about that park,” she said of Seravalli. “My kids grew up playing there.”

Blacklow noted that, ironically, he and his sons — and many other locals, too — enjoy playing pickleball. But he stressed that it can’t be at the expense of little kids’ recreational space.

“I am a pickleball player — but it’s these kids’ park,” he said. “Seravalli Playground has been around for over 60 years and it was built as a place for children to play and climb. It’s unstructured, open space for children to play.”

The late Tony Dapolito — who was known as the “Mr. Parks” of C.B. 2 — personally created the playground. Looking at an old warehouse on the site one day, he hit upon the idea of tearing it down to open up the space for local kids.

Blacklow taught his oldest son to ride a bike at Seravalli and also “to learn how to be on his own, play by his own.” Now, his youngest son, a 13-year-old, and his friends likes to play “manhunt,” a tag game, there.

However, Blacklow said of the erstwhile idyllic kids’ spot, “all that changed” last November when the two initial pickleball courts were painted — “with no community notice.”

“At first, it seemed like a friendly addition,” he recalled. But things soon got out of control. The boom really first became noticeable this past spring.

“This has exploded in the past few months,” Blacklow said. “I personally have witnessed nine courts on the blacktop. But others have witnessed 12 courts or more — and 12 take over literally all the blacktop. People were putting down chalk lines, using tape. On a decent day, you could see 12 courts and well over 100 people either playing or waiting to play — and that is a complete takeover of the space.”

Blacklow said that, traditionally, there was a natural and easy overlapping of activities on the blacktop — but that can no longer happen with the pickleball courts out there.

“When kids are riding bikes and throwing balls in the park, they can cross around and cross each others’ space all the time,” he said. “It’s an open space.”

Meanwhile, Passannante Playground, he noted, is a “permitted space,” meaning that organized sports and activities can apply for permits for use of the blacktop there or parts of it, as local schools and the Greenwich Village Little League T-ballers do.

As a result of the swarms of pickleballers at Seravalli, he said, “Now kids don’t want to go in the park. They don’t feel safe and they don’t feel welcome. It’s not their space anymore. It’s not right.”

A group playing pickleball at St. Vartan Park in Murray Hill. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Blacklow said when he recently told a group of four women pickleball players at Servalli that they should go to Passannante Playground, they were stunned.

“They said the lines are too long at Houston Street and ‘we don’t want to wait,'” he said. “‘They looked like they had never been told no in their lives.”

He said the pushy pickleballers even tried to get more courts at Seravalli included in last year’s participatory budgeting process for Council District 3, in which district residents get to vote for funding for local capital projects.

“It wasn’t chosen” for the PB ballot items, he said. “It was for four to six separate, fenced-in permanent nets. Kids wouldn’t be able to go through it.”

Racket from the pickleball rackets is starting to become an issue, too, he said, noting, “What I understand is people who live around there are starting to get annoyed at the noise.”

Ultimately, Blacklow said parents want zero pickleball courts in Seravalli. Meanwhile, he said, he’s heard plans are in the works to create a “pickleball mecca” along the West Side somewhere “between the 20s and 40s [blocks].” That might be referring to the area along the Hudson River near the Circle Line dock, where there is a large expanse of vacant blacktop.

As for Greenwich Village’s parks and playgrounds, though, the concerned dad said locals need to be given their say.

“Here, no one’s being given a chance on what it’s being used for,” he said of the Downtown blacktops. “There’s no input from the community — even though plenty of people in the community play pickleball, which is so ironic.”


  1. lynn pacifico lynn pacifico October 10, 2022

    The southern section of the water tunnel site at Hudson & Houston, is slated to be an open sitting area as the DEP needs access to the water pipes below. The site gets little sun, certainly not enough to support any kind of nature and it would make an uninviting seating area. Why not make it pickleboard courts?
    (a net is easy enough to move!)

  2. Andre Andre October 1, 2022

    I’m for all sports and the enjoyment but when pickleball players feel entitled to spray-paint lines on handball courts that’s outragous and disrespectful. Today we had to remove a few players from West 4th Street park, not far from this park in this article. The park only has 3 courts and now two are destroyed because of lines painted on the ground. A park that is a staple for basketball and handball and possibly for pickleball — but to come in one day like vandals is not a good way to go about it. I see no difference from these people to the ones who spray-paint on the side of trains.

    PS: The Parks Department will be removing the lines this week.

    West 4th racquetball/handball player/local resident.

    • Resident Handball Player Resident Handball Player October 2, 2022

      The West 4th St. Handball Courts are a disgrace, especially when residents are competing for space to play sports.

      Most Village residents are antagonized from ever playing in the courts for fear of some incident developing between themselves and the park’s entitled resident vagrants with criminal and mental health histories.

      The park benches inside the courts are illegal. The benches were dragged in by vagrants. Vagrants occupy the benches all day. They drag other chairs into the enclosure, eat, litter, openly drink, blast music and play poker all day and night. Where’s another NYC handball court with a permanent collection of loose furniture, beer coolers and poker tables?

      Very frequently, the drinker/gamblers aggressively preserve their “turf” by placing backpacks and bicycles in the middle of the handball courts.

  3. debora debora September 28, 2022

    Seravalli Playground has been giving children from the neighborhood the room they need to run, play, ride bikes and skateboard for decades. Changes should not occur in this playground. Pickleball players need dedicated spaces elsewhere.

  4. Steve M Steve M September 28, 2022

    Pickleball is alright, but for goodness sake please don’t occupy and take away the much-needed space from neighborhood children. These playgrounds are a vital component to youths growing up in this city — everyone who has kids knows and understands this dynamic. Pickleball nets erected in the playgrounds block these neighborhood spaces and disable kids from riding, throwing or playing freely. Pickleball, please stick to dedicated court spaces elsewhere, which do not take away from children’s play spaces.

  5. Mahvour Lord Mahvour Lord September 28, 2022

    4 courts? That would leave no room for free play. This is a playground. Pickleball should not be allowed in NYC playgrounds. We’ve been coming to this playground for years, specifically because it has a diverse community where kids from all backgrounds have a chance to grow together in play. And what seems to be happening is that there is a very orchestrated takeover attempt without anyone reaching out to the community beforehand. How did this Kathleen Hadden — professional pickleball organizer (and available pickleball coach for $$$) — get the courts authorized just as the outgoing commissioner left? Something is suspect. Can someone look into how that deal was done? Can we have full transparency on this? I saw somewhere a post of her with a politician. All smiles! but let me tell you, this community is not what it purports to be. The public-facing smiles of how they want to be community builders barely veils the fact that their jaws are hard-set, thinking the rest of us should just roll over and readily give them what they want and that we should enjoying doing so! Underlying a facade of friendship is a very suspect belief system that Pickle People can do whatever they want, whereever they want, because pickleball is such a great sport. Maybe they mean a growing sport where people stand to make a lot of money. Let’s be transparent here: Pickleball people are making money on the backs of NYC parks at the expense of our kids. And what about those of us who have been coming to Seravelli for years? No one asked us if we wanted pickleball courts jutting into an oval space, effectively restricting free play. You do not need to dig deep to see that pickleball is a predominantly wealthy community whose members post vacation photos from places like Mykonos, the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, etc. These folks do not possess SNAP benefits, like many of the families who used to come to Seravelli but no longer do. Not to mention the vulgarity of some members’ comments about the kids on social (one threatened to “take out a 75-lber”) and to the kids’ faces. One afternoon, Kathleen herself was videotaping the kids because, in her opinion, she felt they were coming to close to her nets, and then told a mother to “Get out of my face” when the mom asked her to delete the video of the kids playing there. Talk about behaving badly. So, yes! Please call Child Services! Gladly! And I would love it if someone unearthed how these courts got approved in the first place. In my experience (as a student of history) compromising with people who take what they want without asking in the first place ends up leaving the conquered vanquished. So, based on my experience with the pickleballers, 4 courts is 4 courts too many.

  6. Cheryl Cheryl September 28, 2022

    Seravalli Park was designed to be an open-space playground for families in the West Village and it’s been critical to bringing our community together — especially during Covid. We depend on it as a place we can show up and let our kids safely run around with other kids they know from school or the neighborhood. There literally is no other place like it. To insert pickleball courts into it, let alone all the way across it, feels incredibly invasive and divisive. We have nothing against pickleball, but it’s a sport that requires a closed court. Closed, not open. This article isn’t biased — it’s pointing out what’s happening to our communities and kids because pickleball players are literally pushing their way into the few open spaces we have left instead of waiting their turn to play on an actual court, like tennis players do.

  7. Maya Maya September 28, 2022

    Just because the article is not in support of the pickleballers’ agenda does not make it biased. And if only they stuck to their 2 designated courts there would have been trust from the community that we could come to a fair resolution. Unfortunately, their constant land grab of an entire children’s park shows zero partnership and interest in being part of the West Village community.

    • Lydia Hirt Lydia Hirt September 28, 2022

      Hi Maya: We’re really trying to work with the Parks Department for shared guidelines and the courts (i.e., no more than four courts up when kids are playing). I hear you that it’s totally not fair for 12 nets to take over the entire space. I fully wish there was more open space for all!

      • Molly M Molly M September 28, 2022

        Lydia, 4 courts in a row takes up half the park. As the leader of the group you’re well aware of this. That’s not sharing space or making space. That’s taking over space that is intended for play not this sport. None of your members ever consider that when putting up nets.

      • Don Don September 28, 2022

        Hi Lydia: Four courts would be the entire available play space (other than the basketball courts). This is where children learn to ride bikes, skateboard, play kickball, play tag, pogo stick, kick a soccer ball, all co-existing and intermingling together for decades. Your newfound sport takes up a tremendous amount of dedicated space for a few adults to use exclusively. It is not appropriate for this park — even with two courts. Please work with the city and private landholders to find other spaces to play. Thanks.

      • Liz Baylog Liz Baylog September 28, 2022

        If you’re a leader of the organized pickleball at Seravalli, why havent you stopped 10 to 12 courts from going up? Could you take initiative to find somewhere else — why does it have to be where children play? You are aware that anything organized that we do with our kids, we have to go to permitted spaces at permitted times… . Why is pickleball any different?

        • Lydia Lydia September 28, 2022

          Hi Molly, Don, Liz — thanks for the feedback. Four courts in a row does block access — our proposal has the additional two courts along the west side (not in a row), so there is significantly more open space. I totally agree with you that it is not fair to have 12 nets taking over the entire park. I can only speak for the people in our group/from personal experience, and they are well aware of the community needs and interest, and I’ve witnessed them inviting other groups who are setting up additional nets to instead participate in round-robin play and join the existing nets, with people they don’t know (yet!) instead of using more space. Not everyone who sets up nets is within our “group” (though are all welcome), and we’re not in a position to enforce rules, so all we can do is share and encourage open play and consolidation, which are are doing.

          If anyone has suggestions for places with more available open space to play, I’m all ears and happy to try to spread out the pickleball play!

          We are just a group of random New Yorkers who love pickleball and community — we welcome kids (and you!) to join us.

        • Cynthia Cynthia September 28, 2022

          I’m not a leader, but I will offer my experience as a regular player — Meaning, I regularly line up for rotating open play on the 2 currently regulated courts (and occasionally elsewhere during an odd hour, but only when the park is totally empty). We are not officially “organized” but we are the regular players.

          Our group plays where we should. Only the Parks Dept has any actual authority to stop bad apples from setting up nets where they shouldn’t. (And it’s frustrating that they are what you parents see.) They make all the “good” players — and there are like 1,000 of us — look bad. So I (and others) actively try to make them stop, for the good of everyone. On multiple occasions, both “after school” and on weekends — I personally have walked over to a group setting up a private game and requested/suggested/begged for them not to do so. We invite them to play with us on the 2 painted courts. We invite them to be first in line! We explain how kids need all that other space, and that parents will blame all pickleballers for their selfish use of the park… . I am occasionally successful in stopping a game going up, but not always. And I have zero authority to make them leave.

          As a proud 10014 resident who is very active in the community, it’s incredibly frustrating. (And, unfortunately, leads to articles like this that contain truths but miss a lot of nuance.)

          All the regular players and team leaders welcome the Parks Dept. continuing to create guidelines and enforce rules. Hopefully, once the rules are clarified and posted, those who disobey will be fined, and will eventually go away. With winter coming, it’ll happen soon anyway.

          The regular players — which is many many locals who live in 10014 — go out of our way to be good neighbors — to put kids first and co-exist safely and equitably. It’s totally reasonable that you parents only see the bad (like the weekend chaos, ugh!) and not the huge group of us who are “good” and work hard in service of everybody. How could you possibly know the difference?

          During Covid, people of literally every imaginable age (11 to 82!) and every fitness level found an outdoor, healthy, inexpensive, sporty activity that is fun (to us) and easy to play, and brings neighbors together who never would have met. So while the Parks Dept. figures this all out — which, again, we encourage! — please don’t paint all players with the same broad brush. Just give us a little benefit of the doubt and don’t assume all players are bad neighbors. (Maybe the “good” players should start wearing matching shirts so you can see who we are, hmmmmm…. )

        • Lilly Lilly September 28, 2022

          I just wanted to clarify that unfortunately pickleball is a grassroots activity and the leaders of the activity cannot control all the people who bring their nets. Lydia and other members of the organized group always are extremely mindful of the kids and other members of the community who need the space, and we always ask others who put up additional nets to take them down to create space for bike riding, basketball and other activities. They just don’t all listen and aren’t engaged with the broader challenge for space. There need to be community guidelines that are posted everywhere for everyone to understand, because we often try to argue this with other players to no avail.

          I hope people realize that all “pickleballers” are not a homogenous group of people who are trying to take away the spaces from kids; many of us, especially those in the organized community, are well aware of this issue and really want to find a workable solution that meets everyone’s needs. I personally have never witnessed any of the confrontations when I have played there, and actually have played with a few kids in school and taught them a bit about the game. I have had great conversations with parents there, too.

          I’m sad to see all the polarized comments here, because at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to find space for more activity in a city that has limited recreational areas. I am hopeful that the city can quickly act on the growing popularity and create more dedicated courts for the sport, so we can minimize further confrontations.

          • Louise Louise September 28, 2022

            As a parent who regularly spends time as Seravalli with my kids, I have to regretfully admit that I’ve never witnessed the kind and cooperative behavior that you describe from the “core” pickleball players. What I’ve seen from the regular pickleball players (including you, Lydia) is:
            – players telling kids to “get out of the way”
            – players telling each other that “we’ll have 4 approved courts soon enough anyway”
            – players complaining that the kids are interfering with their game
            – players blaming their loss at pickleball to “those noisy kids” playing too close
            – players insulting parents
            – players calling kids names, such as brats, obnoxious and entitled (entitled to playing, I suppose?)
            – players swarming parents (including parents from the neighboring Chelsea NYCHA housing projects) until these parents feel too uncomfortable to remain on their benches, and end up leaving
            – and much more unsavory behavior.
            I understand that emotions are running high, but please remember that organized sports have no place in playgrounds. Organized sports take place on dedicated field space. If I need to trek across town every time my kid has a baseball game, so that he can play on a permitted field at a permitted time, then so can you. And when you want to just chill on a bench, come back to Seravalli. It’s really just that simple!
            I wouldn’t hold my breath for those 4 courts if I were you. Many people in the community feel that the 2 already there need to go, as they were set up without any community input and without the usual approval process. I wish you and your group much success in pickleball — on a permitted field, where I’ll gladly come to cheer you on.

  8. Adam Adam September 28, 2022

    I found the article both well-researched and reflective of the truly unfortunate situation that aggressive pickleballers are creating at Seravalli Playground.

    Children that have been playing at the playground for their entire lives are being told to move out of the way by hordes of adults that bring their own nets and occupy huge swaths of the playground space.

    There are two painted pickleball courts at the playground that were added without community input. Unsatisfied with the allotted space, the players that arrive don’t wait for their turn to play on the painted courts, like any basketball or tennis player would — they just set up their own nets and take over more space while kids are forced out of the way.

    Representatives for USA Pickleball — like Katherine and others with financial interests in the growth of the game and zero interest in the needs of children or the community — are engineering a hostile playground takeover that excludes the kids that come there to run, laugh and play with their friends.

    As for her assertion that children are intentionally throwing balls into the spaces occupied by pickleballers, I’d remind Katherine that some of the kids are just learning how to throw a ball and sometimes the balls don’t go where the kids were planning. Further, Katherine fails to mention that pickleballs end up flying all over the playground, particularly into places where children are playing. A large adult knocked a 4-year-old girl off of her bicycle this past weekend because he wasn’t looking as he chased down a pickleball. Dangerous, indeed.

    It’s not worth addressing Katherine’s unhinged and inappropriate assertion that Child Protective Services should be called on parents whose kids dare throw balls and picnic in a playground. That said, I do think that her comment speaks to the mindset of someone who is willing to do anything — even threaten children and families — to promote a game that could and should be safely played outside of a playground full of children.

    Utterly shameful.

    • EJ EJ September 28, 2022

      The ball throwing by kids is not just kids learning and not accidental. There is literal, intentional egging-on by their parents to disrupt the games on the 2 regulated courts. The article misses many relevant points.

  9. Lydia Hirt Lydia Hirt September 28, 2022

    Hi everyone: I’m a leader in the pickleball group that plays at Seravalli, and unfortunately I think that this article doesn’t portray the friendly, welcoming, and diverse group of players fairly — many of whom are now genuine friends that likely would not have otherwise crossed paths.

    We have a 66-year-old mother of four that plays every day with a 26-year-old software engineer, along with a recently married couple who moved to a West Village walk-up eight months ago, knowing no one in the neighborhood but now know dozens of friends through pickleball.

    We are not trying to take over parks from kids and definitely have no ill intent. As we all know, there is a lack of available open space in the city we all live in and love, so we are wanting to share the limited spaces we do have. All ages and people are welcome to partake in pickleball. (We have kids playing and the elderly!)

    We would love to work together to share the space and generate guidelines that work for both the neighborhood pickleball players and kids. Pickleball — and young people — are the future, so let’s make it all work together. (And, really, young professional pickleplayers are getting very successful and it’s likely a future Olympic sport — so, major upside opportunities!)

    Warmly, Lydia (a local resident)

    I’m happy to speak further on this if useful:

  10. Jennifer Gravel Jennifer Gravel September 28, 2022

    Children have been playing ball games at Seravalli Playground for decades with no issues. It’s open, free play. It only became a problem when organized pickleball took over the playground, creating conflicts. Two courts became an invitation for hordes of players, and many, many more courts. Reporting kids for playing ball? Calling Child Services? Seriously? How low can you go?

  11. Molly M Molly M September 28, 2022

    The playground blacktop was a happy ecosystem of ball players, bike riders, skateboarders, young children playing tag and community until the painted courts appeared (without any public comment). The people who play pickleball here are not willing to share space, self-regulate or even consider children’s safety, let alone wonder how they could co-exist with them. Children are not purposely throwing balls into courts or led by their parents to do so — they are children PLAYING. Pickleball takes up a ton of space for 2 to 4 individuals per court — it does not belong at this park or in any playground. Period.

  12. Louise Louise September 28, 2022

    I’d like to point out that kids growing up in the city don’t have a driveway or a backyard or even a quiet street in front of their house where they could play. A neighborhood playground is all they have. Where else are they gonna go? Not to mention that the people who play pickleball don’t even live in the neighborhood. They’re not local! They commute in by car and by subway, so they could easily go somewhere else, whereas the kids live right nearby and need a local place to play. After all that we’ve been through during Covid and now with this crime wave… taking away play space from kids is the last thing adults should do.

    • EJ EJ September 28, 2022

      Most players, including myself, are very local. Same zip local. And the ones who aren’t are close enough that they take a Citi Bike or subway. So these are the adults locals’ spaces, too. Nobody is trying to take anything away from kids. If kids started running around and picnicking literally on a tennis court while a game was in progress, you’d understand. This is the same.

      • Louise Louise September 28, 2022

        But you actually are taking something very precious away from the kids. You’re taking away their PLAYGROUND. It’s not a tennis court. It’s an illegal court that was set up on a PLAYGROUND. Last time I checked, playgrounds were for kids! They were made for running around and picnicking. That’s what they were made for!

        • EJ EJ September 28, 2022

          Illegal? The Parks Dept of the city (for which we pay tons of taxes) painted those 2 rectangles at Seravalli for zero other reason but for the playing of pickleball. I personally had nothing to do with them being painted, but they are being painted all over the city, in every borough, because people love the game, and Covid made it super-popular nationally. Surely you didn’t think we just invented this.

  13. Eddie Alvarez Eddie Alvarez September 28, 2022

    Yo these pickleballers are INSANE. They just take over all the free space, push everyone out, and then cry that they’re the victims?!

  14. Alex singal Alex singal September 28, 2022

    Child services? Are you suggesting these ball playing/picnicking children should be removed from their families so pickballers can play in peace?

  15. Sarah Sarah September 28, 2022

    What a bias article

  16. Katherine Hedden Katherine Hedden September 28, 2022

    Proper research was not done in this article. You tried to reach me on Instagram? Seriously? I am not responsible for the explosion. I represent USAPA Pickleball organization promoting the sport. This was not even mentioned. What also wasn’t mentioned is the parents using the children to throw balls and picnic on the two designated courts painted by the Parks Department. Child Services should be called. The painted courts at William Passanante Ballfield were done by the Parks Department because they had a tournament there. Two of the dads there I gave my phone number to because we were trying to negotiate the ability to co-exist. Are you aware that in the park rules, ball playing is not allowed in the park either. This is a very slanted and not well-researched article.

    • Marisol Marisol September 28, 2022

      Katherine, it’s not about the activity, it’s about the age of the players. Seravelli Park has historically been a much-needed place for children to play, and it is overrun by a bunch of loser adults who think they’re athletes. You should be embarrassed. I don’t even have kids and I hate pickleballers.

      • Bordo Bordo September 29, 2022

        Game, set, match: Marisol.

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