Jan. 31, 2024 Op-ed by: Richard Khuzami
The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA) is thrilled at the prospect of transforming Hallett’s Point Playground located at the westernmost tip of Queens, into a vibrant community hub, bustling with activity, laughter, and friendly competition. We propose the addition of a pickleball court, a move that aligns with the city’s commitment to fostering community wellness and inclusivity.
Pickleball is an inclusive sport that offers numerous benefits:
• Gentle Exercise: The low-impact movements of pickleball provide cardiovascular benefits without straining the joints, making it ideal for maintaining mobility and independence in older adults.
• Cognitive Boost: The quick thinking, strategy, and hand-eye coordination involved in pickleball keep minds sharp, potentially reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
• Social Connection: Pickleball fosters camaraderie and builds community, combating the social isolation that can disproportionately affect older adults.
• Physical & Mental Well-being: Regular physical activity, such as pickleball, can improve mood, reduce stress, and increase energy levels.
Beyond personal health, pickleball courts can also serve as economic engines:
• Reduced Healthcare Costs: By promoting preventative health, pickleball can potentially lessen the burden on healthcare systems, benefiting both individuals and the community as a whole.
• Minimal Investment, Maximum Return: Converting an existing paved space into a pickleball court requires minimal infrastructure compared to other recreational facilities, providing a cost-effective path to significant community value.
We acknowledge concerns regarding the introduction of pickleball near a NYCHA campus but are confident that this addition can transcend stereotypes and foster unity. Pickleball is a growing sport and all communities should have access to learning about it.
Too often, amenities are focused on youth, leaving our older residents shortchanged. Introducing pickleball will cater to a broader demographic, promoting physical health and social interaction among middle-aged and senior residents.
The implementation requires minimal modification to the existing space. By installing sleeves for net poles and providing storage for nets, we ensure that the field remains versatile for other activities. The addition of court lines is all that is needed to make the space pickleball-ready. This setup does not require permanent infrastructure and will not interfere with other uses when pickleball is not being played.
Affordability and accessibility are at the core of this proposal. Unlike golf concessions (Another activity focused on older residents) offered by the city which may be financially restrictive for some, pickleball is economically inclusive.
Incorporating a pickleball court at Hallett’s Point Playground aligns with OANA’s mission to invest in the health, happiness, and social fabric of our community. It’s about creating a space where generations can connect, thrive, and redefine what it means to age actively. Let’s unlock the potential within our existing resources and pave the way for a healthier, happier community, one volley at a time.
Please go to bit.ly/pickleballpetition to sign the petition.
*Richard Khuzami is the President of Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA). OANA is a 501c3 non-profit focusing on the part of Astoria from Steinway Street/East River to the North, 21st St to the East, Queensborough Plaza to the South, and the East River to the West.