John “Butch” Purcell, also known as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, pictured with his pooch Ginger (Photo by Kelly Vohs)
By Sabina Mollot
Longtime Stuyvesant Town resident John “Butch” Purcell, known to many of his neighbors as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, was honored last weekend by the Brooklyn USA Athletic Association for his career coaching basketball players.
On Sunday, he was inducted into the group’s now 37-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Brooklyn’s El Caribe Country Club.
A number of National Basketball Association players have also been honored, which, said Purcell, is “why it’s a great honor to be inducted.”
Purcell, now 72 and retired, coached athletes from 1972-1992 at Harlem’s Rucker Park tournaments as well as for the New York Pro Basketball League. During those 20 years, he estimated he’s coached over 75 NBA players, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving. A big part of his job involved training the summer league, “keeping players in shape, keeping them in tournaments, keeping them ready for fall,” Purcell said.
Other players he coached included Charlie Scott, Billy Paultz and Kenny Charles.
A promotional photo shows what the Courts at Stuy Town will look like.
By Sabina Mollot
Last week, CompassRock announced, via its tenant emailed newsletter, that Playground 11 would soon become home to “The Courts at Stuy Town,” a center for various winter sports programs to be held under a heated tent.
The programs, which have separate fees, are for residents and their guests and include Super Soccer Stars, batting cages with the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, golf and instructional basketball for kids and basketball games for adults. During hours where there’s nothing scheduled, residents can still use the space for ping pong and basketball. There will also be free film screenings and arts & crafts, management said. The Courts are set to open on November 15 and run through March 1 with the hours of 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Currently, registration is only open for the instructional basketball with Dribbl and Super Soccer Stars. Dribbl will be $360 or $450 depending on the session and the soccer program costs between $365 and $400 depending on the session.
Prior to CompassRock’s announcement, the Tenants Association gave neighbors a heads up via email blast that the indoor sports programming were on the way. The TA noted that while it would have appreciated if the owner had consulted with tenants before digging up the the area around the playground to start installing the electrical system, the center could be a positive addition as long as it doesn’t become disruptive to tenants in neighboring buildings.
This week, Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg said that while tenants haven’t really been asking questions about The Courts, the TA still has its own concerns. One is potential disruptive noise from the scheduled activities or the tent’s heating system. Another is making sure that users of the space are screened to make sure it remains for residents and their guests. Steinberg said another concern is security if the roof of the structure is tall enough to block out lighting.
“The TA is keeping its eyes on the progress of Playground 11,” she said.
Council Member Dan Garodnick added that the noise issue “has been raised with management and we will stay on top of them.”
In response, a CWCapital spokesperson that the tent should actually help reduce the noise.
“As far as noise, the playground will be open the same hours and have the same activities as in the summer, spring and fall, and we expect the tent will dampen much of the noise. We will monitor the noise and take additional mitigation steps if it is necessary.” The spokesperson, Brian Moriarty, added, “PCVST is a very active community, and based on the enormous popularity of the ice skating rink, it’s clear that people like to stay active during the winter too. So we’re very excited that people will now be able to enjoy the playground throughout the year, just as they have in the warmer months.”
Meanwhile, a couple of residents in buildings close to the playground, which is on the east side of the Oval, told T&V said they were still concerned about noise.
Jill Pratzon, a resident in a building overlooking the playground, said she and her husband would prefer the playground as it is.
“We value the quiet immensely. It makes the extra 15 minute walk to Avenue C from the L train count for something,” said Pratzon. “Our view is great, too; we can see the Oval across the basketball courts. The view and the tranquility are also amenities that we pay for; if we lose those, my husband asks, do we get an MCR? You know, a Major Capital Refund? Management says on their website that the sound will be minimized by the tent, but they don’t say that it will be eliminated.”
Pratzon also offered an update on Wednesday morning, noting that due to the bleating of a construction vehicle, there was “no need for an alarm.” Work began at around 8 a.m. “This is going to be a tall structure,” she noted.
Another resident, who didn’t want his name published, said his main concern was security and the structure blocking views around the playground. “We have a plethora of carts and construction vehicles and this will create blind spots along the pedestrian paths,” he said. He added that with the time it would take to assemble and then disassemble the structure, “for two months, this is going to be a construction zone.”