Prep-are to get squashed!
Brooklyn Bridge Park will soon boast its own public squash court, according to leaders of the waterfront green space.
Meadow stewards are teaming up with do-good athletes from Public Squash NYC to install an all-glass singles court at the site of one of the six handball courts at the meadow’s Pier 2, which also features basketball and shuffleboard courts, as well as a roller rink, according to the president of the semi-private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which oversees the lawn.
“We’re really excited about a relationship that we are developing with a non-profit called public Squash NYC,” Eric Landau said at a Wednesday corporation board meeting.
The park keepers wanted to bring the game to Brooklyn’s front yard after they visited another public squash court that opened in April in Manhattan, which is currently the only regulation-size facility of its kind in the five boroughs — and in the country, according to Landau.
“We went and visited it and were kind of blown away by it,” he said. “It’s to provide yet another amenity in the park. There is only one other place we know of in the country where there is a free public outdoor squash court, we are working to do the same thing here.”
Park leaders will also offer free clinics operated by Public Squash NYC workers at the court when it opens, Landau said. The classes, which will be geared toward under-served youngsters, will be similar to those the green space hosts for kids looking to improve their basketball game, he said.
“It will be free and open to the public — free clinics for anyone who walks up,” Landau said.
One board member said meadow leaders should also find a partner organization willing to donate racquets and other equipment needed to play the sport, so those kids who can’t afford to buy their own gear can still play.
“Make sure some of those kids get their own racquets, so they can come back and use the courts on their own,” said Susannah Pasquantonio, who works for Brooklyn Heights Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon.
Park honchos and cops this spring beefed up the police presence at Pier 2, after its various play spaces drew so many teens to the meadow in April 2017 that authorities had to forcibly evacuate the area.
And in 2016, some locals demanded Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders replace one of Pier 2’s basketball courts for a tennis court, claiming the hoops — which are often but by no means exclusively used by people of color — drew too many “criminals” to the green space.
But trading a handball court for a place to play famously preppy game of squash — which is played similarly to handball, but with racquets — had nothing to do with the crowding problem Landau said his staff has since gotten under control, because youngsters can still play whatever they want on the pier.
“We had some isolated incidents over a couple of years, although it has been a couple of years since there has been an incident,” he said. “It’s not a taking out of a handball court, it is the transformation of the handball court to squash, you can still play handball on squash.”
Park bigwigs hope to open the new squash spot by summer 2019, if Public Squash NYC leaders can raise the cash needed to build it in time, according to reps for the group and Landau.
“They are taking on responsibility for all fund-raising costs of the court,” he said.