Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

July 11, 2006

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Wendy Gibson
Catherine Jimenez

State Parks Reopens Tennis Facilites At RiverBank State Park

United States Tennis Association Awards Grant for Court Improvements

(Albany, NY... July 11, 2006) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro today joined state and local officials and representatives from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Eastern Section at a ribbon cutting ceremony to formally open four refurbished tennis courts that were recently completed at Riverbank State Park in New York City. The Association presented Commissioner Castro with a check for $39,453.31 as a grant toward the new courts.

"As a premier destination for indoor and outdoor recreation in the community, Riverbank State Park can now offer even greater opportunities for sports enthusiasts with the restoration and re-opening of the park's tennis courts," said Commissioner Castro. "Together with our partners at the United States Tennis Association, we are pleased to provide the re-surfaced courts for the enjoyment of players of all abilities and ages. We are excited by these latest enhancements to the park and will continue our investment in capital projects and patron amenities to serve the millions of visitors to Riverbank and our other urban state parks in the five boroughs."

The courts had been closed since 2004 because of deterioration of the surface due to the severe climate and moisture build-up under the unique rooftop setting. Last year, State Parks committed to redesigning the outdoor courts using a more traditional hard court asphalt base and surface. The new surface is the same that is used at the tennis facilities at nearby National Tennis Center and Hudson River Park. The $197,000 project includes resurfacing of the courts, repair of the concrete retaining walls and refurbishing the surrounding fence. Funding for the work was supported through the USTA grant, the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

"We are thrilled at this partnership between the USTA and the Riverbank State Park," said D.A. Abrams, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the USTA, Eastern Section. "These refurbished courts will open playing opportunities for all segments of the very diverse population served by this wonderful facility. We look forward to a relationship that develops a pathway for tennis programming that will meet the needs of the beginner as well as the seasoned player. It is a win/win for all involved."

The 28-acre Riverbank State Park is situated atop the New York City North River Sewage Treatment Plant along the Hudson River. The popular park welcomes approximately one million visitors each year and serves as a vital recreation and cultural resource for the surrounding Harlem Community and New York City region at large. In addition to the four outdoor tennis courts, Riverbank's facilities include an indoor theater, indoor basketball courts, a gymnasium and fitness center, a full-size outdoor track and field, a softball field, outdoor basketball courts, handball courts, outdoor concert areas, multiple landscaped picnic areas, an indoor and outdoor aquatic complex, skating rink, and the River Room, a new waterfront restaurant.

"Our parks not only beautify our neighborhoods but they also provide much needed recreation choices for our youth," said Congressman Charles Rangel. "Riverbank has played a pivotal role in cultivating our children's growth and I know that this will further fuel their dreams of athletic success."

Assemblyman Keith Wright, a frequent park patron, remarked, "I and my tennis-playing constituents are very pleased that State Parks has restored and improved the tennis courts at Riverbank. Tennis courts are a scarce public amenity and Riverbank is a premier location for our youth to develop into accomplished tennis pros."

Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr. said, "I thank the USTA for helping repair the tennis courts at Riverbank State Park. Perhaps we will have another Arthur Ashe, the Williams sisters or Pete Sampras waiting in the wings so they can take the stage at Center Court."

State Parks, with financial assistance from LWCF and EPF grants, also recently invested more than $811,000 to replace the storm-damaged main athletic field. Other future major projects planned include the refurbishment of the outdoor elevators, replacement of the softball fields, and improvements to the skating rink and lower level parking area.

The Riverbank tennis courts are generally open from May through November and offer beginner to advanced instruction as well as evening adult instruction. During winter months, the instruction program is moved indoors to the park's gymnasium.

There are currently seven principal state parks in New York City: Riverbank in Manhattan; Roberto Clemente in the Bronx; Bayswater Point and Gantry Plaza in Queens; Empire-Fulton Ferry and the soon-to-open former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal property in Brooklyn; and the Clay Pit Ponds Preserve in Staten Island. State Parks is also an active partner with the City of New York and the Hudson River Park Trust in the planning and development of the five-mile waterfront Hudson River Park that runs along the west side of Manhattan from the Battery to West 59th Street in Manhattan. Together with the City of New York and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, State Parks is also a partner in the design and development of the 1.3 mile long Brooklyn Bridge Park which spans the East River from Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue north to Jay Street in Brooklyn.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 176 state parks and 35 state historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas please call (518) 474-0456 or visit the web site at