119th Street tennis courts renovated at Riverside Park; “Worth the Wait” – West Side Rag

Photographs by Mark McIntyre.

By Lisa Kava

Tennis players who enjoy playing at Riverside Park will find what they are looking for. A major renovation project was completed just last week 119th Street Courts. Players say the ten public hard courts look and feel brand new. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Monday, August 1 at 9:00 am.

Before photos about Riverside Park Conservancy.

“The courts were terribly cracked, hampering play and beginning to pose a hazard,” Riverside Tennis Association (RTA) director Mark McIntyre told West Side Rag. RTA is a subsidiary of the Riverside Park Conservancy. “The job consisted of crack repair and filling, followed by 3 to 4 applications of an acrylic tennis court coating,” said McIntyre.

Riverside Park is home to two other public tennis facilities; the 96th Street Red Clay Courtand the Fort Washington Park tennis courts. None of the facilities have seen the deterioration of the 119th tennis courts, also known as the “About the tracks.” The courts are built on a platform above the Amtrak railroad tracks.

Giving a new meaning to side hustles.

“The platform shakes when trains pass under it, causing the tracks to break,” McIntyre explained. “Once cracks appear, they get worse over the winter as the water entering them expands and contracts during the freeze-thaw cycle,” explained McIntyre. “Because of the Amtrak issue, these courts have about half the lifespan of an average asphalt tennis court.”

Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell about his office. (Did you know he’s Rosie’s older brother?)

McIntyre first reached out to New York State Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell, a longtime supporter of the 119th Street Tennis Association, seven years ago to ask for funding to repair the courts. The assembly member responded immediately, McIntyre said. “But the permitting process for the state of New York and New York City is very thorough and it took quite a while to complete.”

Eventually, with O’Donnell’s help, funding for the renovation was approved and spent through the earlier this summer New York State Housing Authority (The New York State agency that handles this type of funding.) The housing authority is reimbursing the Riverside Park Conservancy $125,000 for the project.

“I am delighted to support the 119th Street Tennis Courts, a very popular and busy facility that has needed physical repairs,” Assembly Member O’Donnell told the Rag in an email. “I knew it was important to invest in the dishes because they bring an important intangible value to our neighborhood. The investment offers tennis enthusiasts a beautiful new environment to enjoy their sport.”

WSR asked why it took so many years to get the funding approved. “The housing authority doesn’t have a reputation for being quick,” O’Donnell replied. “But even by that standard, I had to fight for that funding at every step of the process. Working closely with my amazing partners at Riverside Park and the Riverside Tennis Association, I have had to constantly ensure the grant clears the hurdles and gets closer to delivery to our community. I am very happy that this day has come.”

The repairs, carried out by a company in Brewster, New York, sport tech acrylic paints, began in late June and concluded on July 26. Five courts were repaired at the same time to allow play to continue on the other five during the project.

Membership in the 119th Tennis Association is not required to play on the courts. Players require either a seasonal tennis permit or single game passes, and courts can be reserved online or in person. Click here to learn more about how to play the 119th Street Courts here. For information on how to get tennis permits and single game passes, click here here

So far, the players have been delighted with the result. “119th Street is my favorite place in Manhattan to play tennis. It’s been disheartening to see the courses deteriorate over the years, but now it’s like playing on brand new courses,” said Barbara Eisberg.

“I’ve played the 119th Street courts at Riverside Park for decades,” Joanie Schroeder, president of the 119th Street Tennis Association, told WSR. “I’ve played twice this week on the newly refurbished courses and it’s been such a pleasure. I am very happy that we can finally say: mission accomplished. “

Members of the 119th Tennis Association will celebrate at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday morning. Among those attending will be McIntyre, Schroeder, Assembly Member O’Donnell, along with NY Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue and Riverside Park Conservancy Interim President John Herrold. The celebration is open to anyone who wishes to attend.

“We are thrilled to have brand new courts. It’s worth the wait,” said McIntyre.

To update: Due to “gloomy weather” the opening ceremony has been postponed to a later date to be determined.

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