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$4.5M Overhaul of LIC Park Ignores Run-Down Tennis Courts, Parents Say

 The sports courts at Dutch Kills playground are used for a popular tennis program, and parents say they need a makeover.
The sports courts at Dutch Kills playground are used for a popular tennis program, and parents say they need a makeover.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — Dutch Kills Playground is set to get a $4.5 million makeover that will include all new play equipment and refurbished bathrooms — but the part of the park used for a popular tennis program was left out of the renovations, local parents say.

The Parks Department unveiled its plans for the 28th Street park, between 36th and 37th avenues, to Queens Community Board 1 last week, detailing the first major improvements to the green space in more than 20 years, officials said.

The reconstruction project will include new playgrounds, spray showers, workout equipment for adults and other features, but neglects a set of multi-purpose asphalt sports courts along 37th Avenue which parents say are in major need of an upgrade.

More than a dozen parents and kids who play tennis on the courts, under a free program hosted by the New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL), appealed to CB1 on Nov. 15 to ask that they be included in the playground's overhaul.

Cracks in the asphalt of the courts are so big that kids have tripped over them, parents said.

"They're very damaged," said Antonia Martinez, whose three children are part of the tennis program, which she says teaches between 150 to 200 kids on the courts every spring and summer. "The space has been used for many years."

But renovations will only focus on the playground, basketball and handball courts on the side of the park closest to 36th Avenue, while the roller hockey rink and tennis courts on the opposite side will remain as is, according to the Parks Department's design.

The design was based on suggestions from the community during a public meeting that city officials held this spring, Parks Spokeswoman Megan Lalor said.

"While we are aware of a strong interest in reconstructing the sports courts, the decision to prioritize the playground and comfort station at this time was determined based on feedback also received from the community during the April input meeting," she said.

Lalor added that the agency would consider renovating the sports courts in the future if more funding becomes available.

At the CB1 meeting last week, Parks Committee Chairman Richard Khuzami told parents pushing for the tennis court improvements that the board could include it on its list of capital budget requests for possible future funding.

For now, the $4.5 million already allocated for Dutch Kills Playground will be used to renovate the handball and basketball courts, add picnic tables, adult fitness equipment, water sprinklers and new play equipment for both toddlers and older kids.

Dutch Kills Playground Design Plans

The Parks Department's designs for Dutch Kills Playground after renovations. (Credit: NYC Parks)

Construction on the work is expected to start sometime in 2018 and will take about a year, officials said.

Scott Daly, who heads the free tennis program for NYJTL, said they would be happy to see the Dutch Kills courts renovated, but will continue using the site even if that takes a while.

"We would like to see it resurfaced? Absolutely," he said. "[But] we make do with it as it is."