Mixed Reception as RIOC Cuts the Ribbon on New Pickleball Courts


A revealingly small, yet enthusiastic crowd showed up for the Roosevelt Island pickleball courts’ ribbon-cutting on Friday. But polling across the Island revealed a mixed reception overall. While the courts have many positives, their location coupled with the absence of general community involvement weigh against it.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

To RIOC’s credit, they listened to community voices, but was the spectrum of comment anywhere near broad enough? Or was it a narrower path of the squeaky wheel gets the grease?


Pickleball Courts Open for Eager Fans

No question, many people love pickleball. Its appeal across age groups is undeniable with a younger demographic surging ahead after the sport first landed with firm support from the over 55 set.

It’s a great way to get exercise without the strain of other competitive sports like tennis and running. In practice, players play at their own level with little injury risk. Competition generally involves a level playing field.

On Roosevelt Island, it has the great advantage of being free.

New pickleball courts in Central Park on Sunday afternoon. The players were younger but far from enough to take up all the available courts. Prices may be a factor because, on average, they pay $20 per hour for each player.

But there are disadvantages, too, starting with the location. It’s remote for many Roosevelt Islanders, well over a mile away from the Octagon, for example. And the space below the Queensborough Bridge and behind Sportspark is not attractive or frequented by many.

A major question mark is its limited appeal or engagement.

That is, RIOC exhibited no evidence of reaching out to the community at large before committing a big chunk of their funds. It appears that a small but vocal crowd of fans won consideration without any alternatives being considered.

A decidedly small, thin crowd appeared for the opening. Of around 50 total, nearly half were RIOC employees and other participants, strongly suggesting a mixed reception Island-wide.

About the Mixed Reception

RIOC mounted a well-planned ribbon-cutting ceremony, including most of its senior staff – maybe all that worked locally that day – bulking up the audience. As far as Roosevelt Islanders go, it drew maybe 30 out of 11,771, about what RIOC’s been getting for community meetings.

There remains a serious gap in relationships with the community.

That’s our take, but we invite you to share your opinion in our poll. All responses are anonymous. Neither The Daily nor anyone else knows who the respondents are.

But the results will be shared with RIOC, elected and other public officials and in a follow up review. Please take this poll which gets updated with every fresh vote.

Did RIOC serve residents well by installing pickleball courts behind Sportspark?The state agency invested a large sum in building the courts. Needless to say, it could have been invested elsewhere. Does this use community resources in the best possible way for most residents?

Thank you!

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