Fed up by basketball noise, ST man aims to get rid of playground

Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 11 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When Stuyvesant Town management announced last year that the sports tent, which had been installed at Playground 11 for a couple of winter seasons, would not be returning, the news was sad to local sports fans but a relief to others. One of the reasons for the oversized tent’s discontinued use was that its usage didn’t justify the energy it took to heat it, but another reason was neighbors’ complaints of noise.

One of the residents who’d been affected by the noise was psychotherapist Stuart Levinson, who said his eleventh floor apartment directly overlooked it. However, even with the tent gone, according to Levinson, the noise from the playground’s basketball courts, is not.

Recently, Levinson, who was also very vocal about his dislike of the tent, started a petition to ask StuyTown Property Services to get rid of the playground as well. Instead, he suggested, the space could be used for a community garden. The petition, which he sent to Town & Village, was signed by 30 people, all in his building, 285 Avenue C.

Levinson has been living in Stuyvesant Town for two years, which is when he married his wife, a resident of 20 years. So, he acknowledged, many of his neighbors have been living in the community long enough to either not notice the noise, anymore, or not care.

Still, said Levinson, he has yet to get used to what he calls the highly annoying pattern of dribbling and cheering by people playing basketball as well as some cursing. He lives on the eleventh floor of his building, but blamed the amplified noise on what he described a vacuum effect created by the way the nearby buildings surround the playground.

“When I was visiting, I wasn’t conscious of it,” said Levinson. “It was only when I started living there, probably 70-80 feet (above the playground). I know it’s been there forever. It’s good for the kids, but it’s ridiculous to have a recreational facility between five residential buildings, because sound carries. If someone wants a nap or if someone’s ill or if someone wants peace and quiet, they’re not going to get it.”

When the tent was still was open last winter, the noise was so irksome to Levinson that he requested that someone from the Environmental Protection Agency test the noise levels. The request was granted although Levinson said when the noise level was measured from his apartment it was at a time when not too many people were using the playground, so he was unable to prove his argument. He said he will ask for another inspection though at a different time of day, like after school lets out.

“I’m not against sports. I like kids,” Levinson said, “but I am in favor of the quiet enjoyment of my residence.”

Levinson may have also been spurred on by management’s recently announced plans to convert Playground 7 (known as home to the community’s hockey players) to a fitness equipment area. Additionally, he explained, based on what he’s seen in Stuyvesant Town, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

“Three people complained about squirrels and they got signage about squirrels,” said Levinson, referring to the recently installed signs asking residents not to feed the community mascot in or near the playgrounds.

His own complaining too on other issues has yielded some results, with Levinson recalling how after he reached out to management because of all the noise at the garden equipment storage area, which is located in his building, many of the landscaping supplies were moved elsewhere and new rubber-wheeled carts introduced to cut down on the noise of equipment and other items being carted around.

Removal of an entire playground on the other hand is likely to prove a tougher sell, and he knows it.

“I’m not equating it to construction noise, but it’s pretty annoying when you’re hearing constant dribbling and hooting and hollering,” Levinson said. “People say, ‘You live in New York City. You have to get used to it.’ But it’s right below my window.”

Compounding the problem, he said, is that the playground is open until dusk and residents are allowed to bring up to four guests.

For now, though, Levinson just may have to get used it. When asked about Levinson’s proposal, Stuy Town General Manager Rick Hayduk indicated the playground will be kept as is.

“StuyTown Property Services is always open to resident feedback, including feedback on the property’s 15 playgrounds,” Hayduk told T&V. “But the sounds of children, adults and families recreating on PCVST’s playgrounds, albeit noise to some, has been a joy to others for 70 years. As such, StuyTown Property Services has no plan to alter the activities designated to Playground 11 at this time.”

The Tenants Association also has no plan to get involved in this fight, with TA President Susan Steinberg explaining the association doesn’t want to take sides.

“The playgrounds have been part of the community since it was built,” said Steinberg. “They are a fact of life here. While we sympathize with the need for quiet, there are plenty of tenants who see the playground as an amenity. The TA represents all tenants and does not take a position for one group against another.”

A few other residents Town & Village spoke with said they consider the playground noise just a part of living in Stuyvesant Town.

However, Sushil Mangal, whose building is next to Playground 11, said the noise definitely gets on his nerves. Mangal said he figured much of the noise from yelling and basketball playing was due to nonresidents using the playground. “I know because I see outsiders coming in,” he said.

On the other hand, Mangal’s longtime partner Maryann Rice said she no longer notices it.

“I’m more tolerant. You get used to the noise and you don’t pay attention,” she said.

A resident of the building on the opposite side of the playground agreed with her.

“It’s nice for the kids to have a safe place to play basketball,” said a woman who only gave her first name, Shelley. She added, “It was worse when they had the tent here. That seemed to amplify the noise. But as long as (the noise) stops by 9 p.m. I just tune it out.”

34 thoughts on “Fed up by basketball noise, ST man aims to get rid of playground

    • Definitely. I also gotta wonder how he only lives 70 or 80 feet above the playground when he’s on the 11th floor (really the 13th, with T and M!)? LOL.
      While approximately 200+ feet above the sounds of play and joy, this therapist hand-wrings, stresses, and obsesses. Probably not a great endorsement for his business.

  1. Is he being forced to live there? You can always move if you find the noise to be that much of nuisance. So many quiet places to choose from here in NYC.

  2. Thank u for publishing the article, I appreciate it a great deal, Stuart levinson

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Lived there for 9 years, used the courts for 29. You’re a psychotherapist and this is the best way for you to cope? Plenty of other things to obsess about.

  3. I’m not a fan of noise but one noise i will defend with my last breath is that of children playing. This seems kind of ridiculous. That playground has hosted children for over 60 years. If anyone needs to go its Mr. Levinson. Can’t say I would use his services after seeing this ridiculous article. Not a smart career move.

  4. I live on the 10th floor above Avenue C and the FDR. I am going to fight to have them shut down the FDR because the traffic is too loud.

    What a joke. I don’t usually like the whole “deal with it, it’s New York,” but in this case I do.

  5. I have lived hear for 63 years 38 years over Playground 11, this gentleman shoudl move into another apartment facing away from the playground. the only thing that has ever bothered me was the tent as it amplified the sounds, and also impeded the views from outr windows. Children should have a place to play near their homes, this is a family development, always has been. If Mr. Levenson who has only lived here for two years has a problem with it he did not do his due diligence when he moved in. If his wife has lifed here for 20 years she should have told hime or he should have noticed it before they married. To uproot families on his behalf is rediculous. I hope STPCV MGT. disregards this complaint or gets recreation personel if they are still employed here to monitor the noise. If its the basketball dribbling that bothers him maybe he should get out and join the games!

  6. Our community district, District Six, Manhattan, has the least amount of public play space of any community district in any of the five boroughs. While it is private, ST/PCV is an oasis for youngsters that need to play so that they can learn group dynamics, fair play, and healthy competition. (Who knows? Athletic diversion and outdoor exercise might even help youngsters avoid the need for Mr. Levinson’s services later on.)

    In any event, ST/PCV resident should all support community efforts to defeat the city’s plan to build a “super-sized” DSNY sanitation garage on the Brookdale Campus (East 25th Street and First Avenue) that is soon to be demolished. That site, adjoining the Asser Levy recreation center, would increase our community district’s active play space by 4.25 acres, enough for baseball, soccer, lacrosse, a running track, etc. But only if the community defeats the city’s plans to build a veritable “Pentagon” of DSNY offices and garage space (which could be built at one of several sites nearby, including sites much closer to public transit so that DSNY “field commanders” wouldn’t need free parking for their cars.)

    Facebook users, check out Brookdale NO! here: https://www.facebook.com/Brookdale-NO-634350639928068/

    AND the Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition, here:


  7. Its pathetic management would even entertain a request from a psychotherapist so insane and foolish as this 2 year resident. Pack up and move to the suburbs. This is NYC!!

  8. He’s lucky he didn’t live here 50 years ago when ST/PCV was totally over run by kids. I know because I was one of them. Count your blessings,doc and be grateful for what you have.

  9. The answer to his problem is obvious, he needs to move. Period.
    For SEVENTY years playground 11 has been used for basketball while THOUSANDS of families lived in the buildings overlooking it. Without issue. Because he failed to understand the area before moving in two years ago a popular recreational area should move? To even entertain the idea is ridiculous. There’s plenty of “peace and quiet” & probably gardening space outside of the city.

  10. Well, this brings back memories…I grew up in 4 PCR on the 8th floor and over the years made lots of joyful noise down in the playground. One day, when my mother was riding the elevator sans-kids, another tenant from a higher floor commented out of the blue that she found the noise from the playground so disturbing that she sometimes felt she had to close her windows to save her nerves. Now, even living at the center of the development, we could hear the sirens from the three nearby hospitals and the police precinct a few blocks away punctuating the constant hum of traffic noise. My mother still talks about her total amazement…this woman didn’t even mention the noise of the city but found the happy shouts of kids at play upsetting. So, I guess there has to be one wth every generation. This community was built for families, Stewart. While I know times have changed and the demographic is now more varied, I am SO glad PCV/ST still celebrates and supports this legacy.

  11. He should live on a low floor on the 14th Street Loop, then he’d know what noise is! This is Sanitation/Recyling Central early in the morning when the garbage and recyclable crap is thrown into the trucks and compactors. Add to that the ever-present moving vans, U-Hauls, etc., moving the churn in and out. It never stops!

  12. Those of you comparing my need for quiet enjoyment of my residence to my professional role are both ignorant and diluded. They are mutually exclusive. I know the history of stuytown, and the playgrounds were misplaced from inception. Recommending that someone relocate rather then try to initiate change is also a silly and selfish argument. The noises violate the ambient noise levels dictated by city laws, therefore violations should be imposed and the playground replaced. It is irrelevant who is playing, just like it is irrelevant who is smoking, who is partying, whose dog is defacating, etc.; what’s right is right, and I am quite sure more than 30 residents agree with me. Go make noise in public recreation areas, not private residential areas, and thereby discriminate against people who want peace and quiet.

    • You are going to be 30 vs 29,000 with that attitude Mr. Levinson. This playground has been a part of Stuyvesant Town long before you were a twinkle in someone’s eye, and you have some nerve coming in here and thinking you can rid this community of its history, which you are doing.

      I don’t agree with management on a lot, but I will stand by their side 100% in not even entertaining your argument/complaint.

      • You also need to understand that management does not care about you. You live in a rent stabilized apartment with your wife, paying next to nothing. They are catering to tenants paying 5-6x what you are in rent, and they want amenities.

    • Mr. Levinson,
      As someone that is a third generation resident, with my grandparents being original tenants, there are some things that need clarification based on your insulting article and comments.

      My grandfathers brother and cousin were engineers and architects that worked on the initial phases of building this property through construction and its official opening. You say you know the history, but that is obviously false, as the playgrounds were not misplaced from the beginning. With 15 total playgrounds, they knew exactly where they were putting them and wanted to make sure everyone had easy access to a playground right near their building. Every building in ST has an entryway (T or M) to one of the 12 playgrounds, and quite a few have both entrances leading to a playground. All but 9 buildings in PCV open up to a playground. This means that 101 of the 110 buildings have tenants that are potentially “disturbed” by playgrounds, yet you want us to believe that the playgrounds were misplaced from inception? Nope, sorry, there is no historical accuracy to this statement.

      Another argument that you need to take into consideration is that you want peace and quiet, but maybe there are families that moved here for the amenities like the playgrounds. Maybe they paid to live here so that their kids didn’t have to use a public city park??

      You should really be grateful for your location not only in this property, but in the city as a whole. Move to any apartment on 14th, 20th, 23rd, 1st, or C, and those tenants are dealing with horns, sirens and loud people at all hours of the day. I also find it hard to believe that on the 11th floor the courts are louder than the ambient noise laws you babbled on about. I would hate to be the cop that would have to come and check on that, because I would definitely laugh.

      I am glad to see that management has basically laid this argument to rest, because it truly is a waste of their time. Time that should be used handling more pressing issues, and there are plenty of those these days.


    • Yours is the selfish argument.

      The playgrounds were not misplaced or illconcieved. They are shared public spaces meant to be enjoyed by the community. Spaces where if mothers weren’t watching from a bench they were able to look out the window and see their children at play. A concept of community that has worked since 1946.

      You made the choice to live beside popular basketball courts. If it was quiet enjoyment of your residence you sought, moving into this apartment at all was foolish. Frankly, moving into ST was foolish. FDR traffic, fire trucks, ambulances, police sirens, etc. At least the playground closes at night.

      Why should an established, popular amenity that has been in the exact same location for decades, including many decades before AC was installed, be moved because of your lack of awareness before moving in? Now, that’S selfish.

  13. Stewart, as the sole complainer, of 30,000+ residents here, you might consider buying noise cancelling headphones or a white noise machine. Asking management to placate your lone voice (because you foolishly didn’t do your homework before moving in), by eliminating a playground reeks of self-importance (delusions of grandeur?) and entitlement. Nice. It’s partly why I was one of those conflating your profession with your shaky grasp on reality, upthread. Since you and your work should have, at least, a passing familiarity with delusions, you might want to learn how to spell its derivatives. Unless, of course, you were discussing the medication dilaudid, in which case I stand humbled and corrected. I believe the word you were looking for was deluded, not diluted, nor diluded- which is not a word.

  14. I live above that playground.

    The kids don’t bother anyone but the adults yelling “FUDGE!!!!!” And “Woooo!!!” Every time they miss a shot, or even make one is not cool. Also there were large groups entering the from surrounding neighborhood, when there no attendant, it is a real problem. It’s not a public space or a park for adults to scream!

    I can say if it were children playing it would not be an issue. Unless you live above that playground, you really cannot speak to how annoying it can be when you have to keep your windows closed on a nice day. Otherwise it is disruptive and sometimes is louder than the TV. All we want is to relax at the end of the day or on a day off.

    So if you want to count this 7 year resident a complainer because jerks took over the basketball court, go right ahead.

    • I agree that if there are unruly adults playing basketball that can’t control themselves, then the playground needs to be monitored. I have seen these non-residents coming to our courts for a long time, and this will continue as long as security and management allows it.

      This does not mean that the playground needs to be eliminated altogether.

  15. Perhaps ST-PCV Management should offer Mr. Levinson another apartment where the noise level is not bothersome to him.

    If quiet is what he wants , he should consider himself fortunate to be on a high floor , on the inside of the complex , and not within constant earshot of what real city noise is like… such as the corner of First Avenue and 14th Street with the passing parade of teenagers shouting when they get out of school and of course the sirens of ambulances getting emergencies to the local hospitals.

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