Posted on December 26, 2009
New York’s Randall’s Island--which contains dozens of acres of parkland off the Triborough Bridge in Manhattan--is under attack once again. A judge ruled last week against the city’s plan to give certain private institutions in New York City near-exclusive access to most of the sports fields on the island. Twenty such institutions would have paid for almost full rights to use the fields during after-school hours, due to the use of an exclusive lease. Randall’s Island is one of those oddly little-known spaces in New York. It holds not only sports fields, but Icahn Stadium, a modern track stadium; wetlands; and venues for concerts and Cirque du Soleil. Its sports facilities include 26 baseball and softball fields; 18 soccer fields (some of which are under construction); a golf center; a tennis center; a playground; and picnic areas, many which are free and open to the public. A judge has ruled that the plan must go through a community and environmental review. While on the surface it seems that such a plan is blatantly unfair, it would actually bring in money from the private schools, which would, in turn, allow the fields to be renovated. Much of the money would go towards the refurbishment of 63 fields, which would eventually open the playing field, so to speak, for public schools and the public as well. Free programs are already provided for many public schools kids, and the Island hosts more than 7000,00 visitors annually, including spectators to the events.