Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Roosevelt Island Octagon Soccer Field Renovations Delayed At Least Thru Fall 2019 Says RIOC- Community Seek Greater Access To Ball Fields For Local Kids and Residents, Limit Permitting To Off Island Groups

In August 2018, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) abruptly closed down the Octagon Soccer Field announcing:

Deteriorating turf conditions at the Octagon Sports Field have forced its closure, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation announced today.

The field, which is located on the northern part of the Island, is an outdoor soccer field, used by the community daily and is one of the most popular fields on Roosevelt Island. It is used from March to mid-November, for activities including soccer, football, lacrosse, and rugby.

Existing permit holders including several adult sports leagues that held paid reservations-at $175 per hour- are being contacted and will be given refunds, RIOC said.

Due to numerous unsafe snags, rips and tears on its turf, RIOC plans to repair and redevelop the field as well as all surrounding fixtures and facilities, including comfort stations, seating, security features, and lighting design.

This major renovation will begin in the Fall of 2018....

As of February 2019, the Octagon Soccer Field renovations have not begun.

RIOC reported on February 1:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation announced several new field usage policies today to provide more options for outdoor play while the Octagon Field is under renovation.

RIOC policy changes:

All permitting on Firefighter’s Field, excluding RIOC programming, will be suspended on Fridays and Saturdays, allowing open play until the Octagon Field renovation is complete;

Island residents will be surveyed to seek new community usage policies for the renovated Octagon Field.

Capobianco Field will be opened to permitted requests to alleviate overuse of Firefighter’s Field.

“We understand that the closing of Octagon is a serious inconvenience to young soccer players, their teams, and parents,” said Susan Rosenthal, CEO and president of RIOC. “We’re announcing these updated policies today to let the community know we’re listening, we’ve heard you, and we’re working to accommodate your requests.”

Octagon Field was closed last summer due to safety and liability concerns about the deteriorating field conditions. A full-scale renovation is underway, which will include new turf, bleachers, and a new comfort station.

While the pre-construction phases for the Octagon renovation project began in June 2018, due to unforeseen delays, the field work is now expected to be complete in Fall 2019. Once field work is complete, the Octagon will be re-opened for public use while the adjacent work on the bleachers and comfort station are completed.
RIOC did not say what are the "unforeseen delays" in renovation of the Octagon Soccer Field.

Roosevelt Island parent Miguel Pincay expresses the opinions of many who use the Octagon Soccer Field and other Roosevelt Island ball fields:
The condition of the Firefighters field is now worse than the Octagon Turf field.

The Sunday football league is the reason why the field was unusable after just a couple of weekends.

The community knew that and made it known to RIOC, yet, the Sunday Football league must go on.

The Cappobianco field sits on a slant and it doesn’t drain well. The Pony field has even worse drainage issues.

Still, RIOC wonders why the community is frustrated and fed up.
According to RI Fields For RI Residents Facebook Page
For those who don't already know the issue is this....

Roosevelt Island has an abundance of playing fields and yet because of RIOC’s permitting policies the reality is we, the residents, have limited access to them for open play and pick-up games. Organized teams and groups (mostly from off-Island) are prioritized over our children’s right to play spontaneously in their own backyard. Our property tax helps pay for these fields!

Capobianco Field which was a dedicated open play field will now be permitted out because of Octagon Field’s closure.

Capobianco and Pony Fields will be permitted out every day of the week.

Firefighter’s Field will be permitted out Mon-Thurs and Sunday.

Firefighter’s Field will be reserved for RIOC’s youth soccer program every Saturday starting in the spring.

Octagon Field is closed until Fall 2019 earliest and after that we expect RIOC will want to heavily permit it out

This means that the only time for open play for our kids and our community is Friday at Firefighters Field -- but because of school/work, that really means Friday afternoon/evenings at Firefighter's Field is the only time we can reliably count on having access to a field for open play.

What we want:

Limited permitting for non-RI sports groups. Permitting when children are less likely to use field (after 8pm, and during school hours).

Dedicated open play hours for residents (permits not required to use fields during these times) on weekends during the day and after school, for example.

Organized RI youth teams that are not part of RIOC’s youth programming should have equal access to fields for permitted practices and games.

Improved field maintenance and implementation of rules that will help keep fields in better condition (for example, an enforced policy that flag football cleats are not permitted on fields as they cause damage making them unsafe).

Stay tuned for more.

UPDATE 10:15 PM - During this eventing's Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Meeting Public Session, Roosevelt Island mom Lauren Blankstein and her son reported on the lack of available playing time for local kids on Roosevelt Island ball fields due to the closing of Octagon Field and permitting of other fields to off-Island groups.

According to Ms Blankstein:
... I don't understand how on this Island with all this open space and green space that our kids are so restricted...

... Where are our kids supposed to play...
Ms Blankstein's son Niv Betel added
... I don't know if I'm right or wrong ... but I feel that...
RIOC thinks the:
... beautiful fields can only be used for business and not for residents. And I feel that's wrong.
Here's the presentation by Ms Blankstein and Seth.