The Randall’s Island Park Alliance, Inc. (RIPA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works with the City of New York and local communities to provide an innovative and exciting destination through a wide range of sports venues, cultural events and environmental exploration. As the dedicated steward of Randall’s Island Park, the Alliance sustains, maintains, develops and programs the Park to support the wellbeing of all New Yorkers.
A little bit more about RIPA
The Randall’s Island Park Alliance was founded in 1992 as a public-private partnership to work on behalf of Randall’s Island Park, located in the East River, separated from Manhattan by the river’s main channel. Between the Island and the Bronx flows the Bronx Kill, while the famous rapids of Hell’s Gate separate the Park from Astoria, Queens. The Island was once two separate land masses, Randall’s Island and Wards Island, which for hundreds for years were used not as a public park but as a location for a range of public facilities including a boys’ home, a hospital, and a home for Civil War veterans. Today, Randall’s Island Park is New York’s premier recreational destination.
RIPA maintains, sustains, and programs the Park under three guiding principles: we provide opportunities for people to be active and experience the outdoors; we promote fairness, respect for one’s opponent and graciousness in winning or losing; and we believe that world class facilities should be available to everyone, regardless of their means.
These principles have yielded tremendous growth over the past decade. Randall’s Island Park has transformed into a world-class sporting destination with outstanding facilities. Icahn Stadium, a world-class track & field facility, is the only IAAF-certified stadium in North America, capable of hosting local, regional and national events. The Stadium offers a full standard 400-meter Mondo running track flanked by 5,000 covered spectator seats overlooking the East River. The Sportime Tennis Center, which is the largest and finest tennis facility to open in New York City in the past 30 years, features 20 state-of-the-art courts, and provides a venue for New Yorkers to watch, train, play and compete. Randall’s Island Park is also home to the Randall’s Island Golf Center, which has been recently renovated and has a large grass tee driving range, two miniature golf courses, batting cages, beer garden and WiFi lounge.
In addition to sporting facilities, the Island is also home to a sprawling event site that, along with Icahn Stadium, hosts a number of special events every year. Located between Icahn Stadium and the Harlem River, the event site has hosted notable concerts, art fairs, and cultural festivals, including the Governor’s Ball, the Electric Zoo Festival, and the upcoming Frieze Art Fair.
RIPA has focused not only on developing the Park’s facilities but also on restoring the Island’s natural resources. In spring 2008, RIPA completed a $5 million restoration of the Island’s Little Hell Gate Inlet salt marsh and freshwater wetland; today, the sites improve water quality as well as provide precious wildlife habitat. The Park also features a 3,000-square-foot urban farm, created in conjunction with GrowNYC, which serves as a space for environmental and nutritional education for schools and groups. This “learning garden” grows a wide variety of produce in over 20 vegetable beds made solely from recycled and composted materials.
Randall’s Island Park attracts 1.7 million visitors to the Island per year, many of whom are local children who participate in our free youth programming. In conjunction with the Department of Education, the Public Schools Athletic League, and the CHAMPS program, we offer year-round daytime and afterschool youth athletic programs in tennis, soccer, golf, dance and rugby. During the summer, our free six-week summer camp program serves over 1,500 children from 25 community-based organizations from neighboring Harlem and the Bronx. In addition, each year our Wetlands Stewardship programming provides opportunities for over 2,500 NYC public school students to visit, study, and volunteer.
The coming years will be exciting for RIPA, as our role transitions to that of stewardship – working to sustain and program the Park’s remarkable new resources. Randall’s Island Park is now, and increasingly, where New Yorkers go to play – and RIPA will continue to ensure that we all can enjoy the great outdoors without leaving our great city.