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Gulick Park Ping Pong Table, Like Park Itself, Gets a Little TLC

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Yesterday we linked to the New York Times’ piece on the city’s experiment in park-based ping pong. The soon-to-be transformed Luther Gulick Park is one of three outdoor recreational areas in New York pioneering the concept. The others are Tompkins Square and Bryant Parks.

The story excerpted from The Lo-Down’s account of last October’s ping pong tournament, written by organizer Kim Gledhill:

An Estonian woman put on quite an impressive show of skill, as did her female Scottish opponent. Chinese-speakers, Spanish-speakers, African-Americans, Anglophiles and those of Yiddish ancestry (like myself) surrounded the table throughout the afternoon, all joined by a shared love of Ping-Pong.”

Six months later, Gulick Park regulars are beginning to think about dusting off those paddles. So we checked in with Dave Bolotsky, Friends of Gulick Park founder. He told us the table is about to get some some TLC. After being vandalized a few months ago, it needs a new surface. Alan Good, whose company (Henge, Inc.) manufacturers the special outdoor models, told the Times urban accenting isn’t just expected — it’s appreciated:

So far from being precious about their artful creation, the folks at Henge are eager to see how the city begins chewing up their terrazzo tables. “Skateboarders are going to go for it,” Mr. Good said with unmistakable delight. In preparation, he has already begun designing “skateboard-ready, or grindable,” modifications to make sure the tables are up to whatever the skateboarders can dream up. To him, urban appropriations like that are what make it fun. “That kind of spirit — thank God they take risks, and thank God cities find new kinds of insurance to protect them,” Mr. Good said.

The table was well-used last summer and fall and, Bolotsky said, the group is looking forward to the installation of a new top and another season of table tennis on Willett Street.

It’s going to be a big spring for the organization. After two years of advocacy, community building and fund raising we understand the city is ready to begin drawing up plans for a refurbished Gulick Park. There will be a final design workshop on the evening of May 4th at the Abrons Art Center. Everyone is welcome to attend.  If you’re interested, RSVP to info@gulickpark.org by April 15th.

Parks Department designers will take the community input into account as they draw up preliminary plans. They could have something to show the neighborhood by the end of the year. The organization has raised about $1.5 million, probably not enough money for the entire project but sufficient to get started.

If you’d like to learn more about the Friends of Gulick Park, head on over to their web site.


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