UPDATE: RIOC’s Chaos and Turmoil Now: Tennis Courts, June 3rd, 2022


By Friday, June 3rd, Matthew Waldman had had enough. He wrote a thoughtful email to RIOC about the poorly managed permitting system for the Octagon Tennis Courts. His email went to Wanda Coleman, who manages permits, President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes and the board. None responded. It wasn’t the first time.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

UPDATE, June 7th, 2022: At the end of Monday, after giving RIOC two full days to respond in a respectful way, I checked back in with Matthew.

Did he hear from RIOC? “No,” but he did hear from the tennis player who got double-bookings.

“The courts made a mistake and approved both courts. I originally booked 5:30, then canceled it. Then booked 5. However, octagon approved both instead of processing the cancellation.”

In short, RIOC’s reservation system screwed up. They took no responsibility and let The Octagon take the blame. This is what we get for our money from New York State, these days.

close up photo of person holding tennis racket and ball
Photo by Gonzalo Facello on Pexels.com

“I have been a Roosevelt Island resident for over a year and have been very disappointed with how this process works and how it is maintained,” Waldman wrote.

“This process is very chaotic and unorganized. There have been rules distributed on how the reservation process works. These are clearly not followed.”

What are rules there for…?

RIOC Tennis Court Rules: “Reservations required in advance. Only one reservation, per player, per day.”

But here’s the online reality from Facebook…

Rules are in place for dealing immediately with issues. According to RIOC’s regulations…

  • All players should arrive five (5) minutes before their reserved time. Players must check in at the court gate waiting area at least five (5) minutes before the reserved hour begins.
  • If all players have not checked-in at least five (5) minutes prior to the hour, players will lose their reservation.

“Are these rules being followed?” The Daily asked.

“People may arrive early but there is no ‘check in’ process or any staff on site,” Waldman says. “The only staff are PSD to open the gates at 7:00 a.m. and lock them after 8:30 p.m.”

“It is not possible to make reservations for a specific time in a court if someone has previously submitted a request for this time, even if it is not approved or does not follow the guidelines provided by RIOC,” Waldman adds.

“For example, ALL time slots for Sunday, June 5th were unavailable at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 3rd (the “start” time when requests can be made according to RIOC). This is a regular occurrence. This makes it nearly impossible to make a reservation.”

Waldman’s frustration is shared by many Roosevelt Island residents. The online permitting system is chaotic and unorganized, with little to no accountability.

This is just one example of the many issues Roosevelt Island residents have with RIOC. And the state agency’s unwillingness to respond.

Abusing a system…

In addition, many individuals abuse this system by:

  • Groups of 2-4 will make multiple reservations back to back to back on the same court, making it hard for others to use the court. The same people can be seen on the courts for multiple hours during times when all courts are “reserved”
  • Multiple people are “coaching” others for hours
  • Given that all reservations can only be 1 hour. People will purposely make reservations on the half-hour so they can have additional time on the court and others can not make a reservation for those 30 minutes prior or at the end of their permit time
  • There is no one here at any time to enforce this permit system at the tennis courts 
  • Many people who do not live on Roosevelt Island are coming to use these courts and abusing these rules, leaving island residents unable to utilize these courts. 

“I hope this can be addressed so Roosevelt Island residents can better utilize these courts and the reservation process can be addressed. This has been a problem for many Roosevelt Island residents.”

As of this writing, RIOC has not responded. It’s not an exception amid the chaotic turmoil that’s reality with the agency and, ultimately, in its relations with residents.

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