We are writing on behalf of many Roosevelt Island families and football/soccer players who would like to know the plan for the future of the Octagon Field and its restoration. When will the work start? How long will it take? Once it is complete, how will the field be maintained and used? Communication has been insufficient to date, and we feel the community deserves more transparency.
We want to make clear to you and to other decision-makers that the playing field is an important part of life on Roosevelt Island for many adult and children residents – not only for league play but for open play as well. We support the need to repair it, in fact some of us have reached out to let you know that the repair was overdue. Our issue is how it was done.
RIOC sent out a press release letting the community know the Octagon Field was officially closed in mid/late August. It gave no reason; we knew the field was in bad shape, but that hadn’t been enough of a reason to close the field before. Then the field was abruptly fenced off and our kids, in the middle of a soccer game, were kicked off the field while the fencing went up. Established soccer leagues were forced to suddenly relocate off Island forcing families and players to scramble to find alternatives, incurring significant expense and stress.
The Octagon Soccer Field is surrounded by a fence and empty after PSD Officers kick out a soccer player who was practicing on the field, a common occurrence.
Had we been given advanced warning, prior to the summer, the many leagues and players that use the field would have been able to plan ahead. It is also very frustrating that the field was fenced off at the end of August and yet one month later no work has been done.
We request that RIOC communicate a timeline for this project. Word on the street is that the field is slated to open July 2019. Is this true? If it is, we would like to know why the project will take so long. There have also been rumors that once the field reopens it will be fenced off and only available for rental and league play. We hope that is not the case. If it is, we urge you to reconsider.
This is the only regulation soccer field on the Island and it is used for soccer games of all kinds, from league play for which it is permitted, to pick-up games played by kids and adults. It is a meeting place for soccer lovers of all ages and levels, and those of us whose windows overlook the field know that there is very rarely anything besides soccer playing, or other legitimate athletic uses, that take place on the field.
Many parents allow their kids to go to the soccer field independently because they know the draw of playing soccer there keeps them safe. For years we have begrudgingly tolerated when the field is permitted out and not available to Island residents. However, the prospect that the state-of-the-art field that our rents pay for will be locked up and off limits is not something we are prepared to accept as this could change the very nature of our community.
A swift response with answers to our questions and a project timeline would be appreciated.
(This letter was sent to reprensentatives at RIOC and RIRA)