Activist set to ‘serve’ Parks with petition on tennis courts

Photo by Clarissa-Jan Lim Joseph Hanania has started an online petition calling on the Parks Department to better maintain the East River Park tennis courts.

Photo by Clarissa-Jan Lim
Joseph Hanania has started an online petition calling on the Parks Department to better maintain the East River Park tennis courts.

BY CLARISSA-JAN LIM  | Despite the recent completion of years of renovation work in East River Park, the park’s tennis courts have been left neglected.

Most of the courts have several-foot-long cracks on their surfaces — some even streching across the length of the court — with vegetation growing in the cracks.

On certain surfaces there are also dead spots that cause the balls to bounce oddly, according to Joseph Hanania, a Grand St. resident who frequently uses the tennis courts.

But the problems don’t stop at the playing surface.

“The cranks on the metal posts holding up the nets are often broken, resulting in absurdly low nets — which, for good measure, are often also ridden with holes,” he added.

According to Hanania, one of the courts also is frequently flooded, even hours after a storm.

People who want to play sometimes have to wait an hour before a court frees up, and the lack of lights to illuminate the courts at night makes the time available for a session even shorter.

“Once it gets dark you can forget about playing,” Hanania said.

The park’s upgrade has seen welcome additions, such as football and soccer fields, as well as a nicely redone, all-new promenade that boasts a view of Brooklyn across the water, but the tennis courts have been left in a state of disrepair.

Hanania contacted the Parks Department more than a year ago regarding the courts’ poor conditions, but nothing came of his efforts. Fed up, he started a petition — currently boasting more than 60 signatures — urging Parks to make repairs to the courts.

“People who are crowded out of Central Park due to long wait times have come to play here and are among the petition signers to date,” he told The Villager. “There is a shortage of courts in Manhattan, so those that exist should be kept in tip-top shape. But the East River courts are, by far, the shoddiest in the borough.”

Hanania said he also hopes benches will be installed in between courts for changeovers, since in the summer the surface heats up and there is nowhere else but the court surface to sit on during a game change or a break.

“We certainly have enough room for that over here,” he noted.

The dilapidated conditions are not acceptable for those who pay for access to the tennis courts, in his view. A full-season for adults costs $200.

“Even free, nonpermit required courts are in better shape,” Hanania said. Hudson River Park has two popular free tennis courts near Canal St. that are in good condition.

Hanania is collecting more signatures on the petition before he sends it to Parks, “to show them that there’s widespread concern about this,” he said. The petition is found online at  http://www.change.org/petitions/nyc-parks-dept-resurface-east-river-tennis-courts.

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