By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
EAST VILLAGE — Table tennis in Tompkins Square Park, anyone?
A permanent ping-pong table in the bustling East Village green space may come as early as August under a plan by a local manufacturer to promote the sport in public spaces.
The idea was proposed by the owner of East Village-based company Henge, which builds and places all-weather, concrete ping-pong tables in outdoor venues.
The company’s first local project was a table for Gulick Park on the Lower East Side, which opened in May.
“This is a product that’s known well to the Chinese and Europeans, but not so much in the United States,” said Henge president Alan Good, who explained that the trend of outdoor table tennis has already spread to cities like Berlin, Barcelona, Paris and across China.
He has recently been visiting neighborhood businesses to solicit feedback on the plan, hoping that some will support the sport locally by selling paddles and balls to would-be participants in need of equipment to play.
The table itself is made of polished concrete and includes a steel net, so players can play no matter what the weather.
The project has the support of the Parks Department, he noted, and now his company is in the process of fundraising for the $3,500 structure.
Good originally pitched the idea to the Gulick Park community last year, garnering 300 signatures from public housing residents in favor of a table and the support of the local community board.
As was the case at Gulick Park, the Parks Department and Tompkins Square staff have been very supportive of the plan, which would see the table installed at the center of the park near the popular dog run.
“I feel that this park is part of me,” said Good, a 30-year East Village resident. “This neighborhood is an idea factory… and I wanted to give something to that tradition.”
Good is handling the fundraising efforts himself, he explained, as a way to bring local residents and businesses together around a common cause.
“The neighborhood gets to know each other,” he said of the idea of East Village merchants donating to the project and selling ping-pong products to players. “Local businesses get more traffic, and it helps knit the community together.”
The company is currently getting interest from ping-pong advocates in Brooklyn and as far away as Portland, Ore., to bring tables there, Good noted.
And with table tennis’ emergence as a newly hip sport promoted by the likes of Susan Sarandon, who co-owns the Flatiron ping-pong club SPiN New York, Good is hoping the game will continue to grow in other outdoor spaces.
“This town is about activity, it’s about events, it’s about color,” he said. “There are amazing things being done with design in parks.”
A resident who lives across from Gulick Park said the sport could develop a following in that area due to the new table.
"Who knows, man, they might start a trend," said Dave Chan, 33, who's lived in the neighborhood for 25 years.
"If you build it, they will come."