NYC Parks eyes plan for permanent pickleball courts on the UES | Upper East Site
NYC Parks eyes plan for permanent pickleball courts on the UES | Upper East Site

As Pickleball Drama Hits a Fever Pitch, NYC Parks Eyes Permanent UES Courts

Days after the City banned the popular sport pickleball from a West Village playground over concerns players had taken over the space with unsanctioned courts, Upper East Site has learned that NYC Parks is now evaluating options for adding official pickleball courts to both Carl Schurz and John Jay Park on the Upper East Side. 


Back in October, Upper East Site revealed the turf war unfolding over the three makeshift pickleball courts drawn over the large asphalt court in Carl Schurz Park that were already used by skateboarders, basketball players and school-aged kids who come to play.

ALSO READ | ‘We Didn’t Have a Problem Until They Created One’: Pickleball Courts Spawn Turf War on the UES

Now, colder temperatures have brought hot tempers to the forefront, as the so-called ‘Pickleball Doctor’ — a man who took it upon himself to paint the lines Carl Schurz Park’s courts— took the winter off from managing, according to pickleball players who spoke with Upper East Site

Last Sunday, tensions erupted when a slew of pickleballers showed up to play at Carl Schurz Park with no one to organize games.

Tempers flared at the makeshift pickleball courts at Carl Schurz Park on Sunday
Tempers flared at the makeshift pickleball courts at Carl Schurz Park on Sunday | Julia Goldblatt

“There’s debates on if it is first come, first serve or if people should be required to rotate after [a certain number] of games,” said Upper East Side resident Julie Goldblatt who described the situation as “pandemonium.”

“Whoever wanted to play would bring their net,” said Goldblatt, who goes to the park on Sundays to watch her boyfriend play pickleball.

“That’s also part of the drama,” Goldblatt told Upper East Site, explaining how some players who brought nets took the position “’it’s my net, I got here first, why should you be able to use it?’”

There are also claims of an aggressive parent bullying the pickleball players so that his son could play frisbee on the court, threatening to “gather all the parents and vote pickleball out of the park.”

Tempers flared at the makeshift pickleball courts at Carl Schurz Park on Sunday | Julia Goldblatt
Tempers flared at the makeshift pickleball courts at Carl Schurz Park on Sunday | Julia Goldblatt

Earlier this week, it was revealed during a downtown community board meeting that NYC Parks had done just that at a park in the West Village, which critics said had been over run by pickleball courts and players.

A brand new sign affixed to a fence simply reads “Pickleball is no longer allowed Seravalli Playground,” where below providing instructions where players can find authorized courts nearby.

Sign posted last week bans pickleball from a West Village park
Sign posted last week bans pickleball from a West Village park | Community Board 2

Here on the Upper East Side, it appears that the popular sport will not suffer the same fate, at least not yet. 

NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner is currently working on a plan to add sanctioned pickleball courts to Carl Schurz Park — where all the drama has unfolded.

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A representative told Community Board 8’s Parks and Waterfront Committee Thursday night that the new plan will “balance the different uses of the space, including the hockey players and the local schools.”

Pickleball courts made from converted handball courts at J.J. Walker Park
Pickleball courts made from converted handball courts at J.J. Walker Park | Community Board 2

It was also revealed that NYC Parks is looking into the feasibility of replacing two of the handball courts at John Jay Park, located on East 77th Street between York Avenue and the FDR Drive, with new pickleball courts — just like what had been done in the West Village.

The Parks Department says it will present the new pickleball plans to Community Board 8 either next month or at February’s committee meeting.

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