The City installed the largest concentration of artificial turf fields in the country in order to accommodate the private school pay-to-play scheme. (The deal was struck down by two judges) Heat and odor are just two reasons sited for the lack of use, poor planning to accommodate community needs, and a lack of access to the island, are among the others.
If you build it, they will come - but not to Randalls Island.
Dozens of new ballfields in the sprawling park beneath the RFK-Triborough Bridge went unused last summer by the kids who need them most, the city parks boss admits, according to the New York Daily News.
And with school almost out for summer, advocates are complaining the $120 million revamp of Randalls Island Park in early 2010 created a playground for the rich and took crucial dollars from neighborhood ballfields.
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe cited the low traffic earlier this year to justify plans for a private sports camp.
"Fields on Randalls Island have gone largely unused during weekday daytime hours in July and August, and thus availability should not be an issue," he wrote City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in January.
The deal called for Florida-based IMG Academies to operate the camp on Randalls Island after donating $200,000 to the Randalls Island Sports Foundation. But plans for the $895-a-week camp fell through in April, with IMG citing low enrollment.
"Why would you build so many fields and then have a problem in terms of utilization?" she asked. "It was shortsighted and now we're paying the price."
The park boasts fancy golf and tennis centers, but no basketball courts, he added.
During the rehab, the city took heat for a $2.2 million-per-year pay-to-play scheme involving Manhattan private schools. It was struck down in court after East Harlem and Bronx community groups sued.
"The fields were built mostly to accommodate the private schools," Croft said. And Marina Ortiz, of East Harlem Preservation, called the park "a private playground ... designed to bring in revenue."
There's a move afoot now to try and spread the word about what's in the park. Randalls Island fields go unused partly because they are isolated and more people need to be made aware of the space, said Frances Masrota of Manhattan Community Board 11.