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By John Sica and Joe McGivney                                   6/10/16



The 20 year battle with the National Park Service apparently is over.  The NPS has won.  The Rockaway Beach Volleyball League is finished.  A community organization that provides recreation for over 1,000 community residents can’t find a storage area in Riis Park that has been home for the league for over 20 years.  Over the decades the park has been abandoned because of neglect, yet the one bright spot has been Wednesday nights when over one thousand people from the local community come out to play volleyball from 6 until 8:30.  What should have been a welcome, positive development for the national park seemed to be a bother to the maintenance staff and the administration, as they continue to put up road blocks to the league.


The run down park was revitalized by Rockaway Bazaar which has provided great food and entertainment to the neglected National Park.  The influx of interest in the park by the private sector has made the abandoned buildings desirable for the first time in over 40 years.  All of a sudden, the only rent paying tenant they had for 20 years has been evicted.  As a side note, the NPS decided three years ago to charge the league rent all winter even though the league runs from May until August, four months.  The rent for a room in Riis Park in October, November, January, February, March and April?  What is it worth?  Who is going to move in?


As the 2016 season approached, league officials frantically contacted the administration of the NPS to provide the league with storage for the equipment necessary to run a league with 78 teams and over a thousand volleyball players and another 300 spectators.  The league offered a solution; the RBVL would lease a storage pod as many other businesses have done through the years.  The only thing needed was a place to locate the pod near the beach courts where games are played. 

The bureaucracy of the federal government asked for dimensions and pictures.  Could it be moved?  Everything was provided yet calls to NPS administrators were met with, “She’s in a meeting,” “Can I take a message?”  Nothing was done.


Once again roadblocks were put in the way, week after week.  Finally the league ordered a pod this week to be delivered on Wednesday morning at noon and as league officials went to Riis to await its arrival they were told that it was not authorized.  The pod was cancelled.  Some league players said, “Do you need trucks?  I can help.”  Their spirit of community and volunteerism was much appreciated but the RBVL Committee refused to risk the safety of the players or committee members in transporting equipment to and from the beach, particularly with inclement weather.  Can the league go on despite the governments roadblocks?  Perhaps, but why?  What is the mission of a national park but to serve the community with recreation?  Every summer for 27 years the Rockaway Beach Volleyball League has provided the community with one of the best nights of social and recreational experiences in the city. Thank you for all you have done, RBVL.  You will be remembered fondly.  RIP.


The weekly party was more like a wake at Rogers Irish House on 116th Street.  Attendance was off due to the volleyball cancellation but a fair few stalwarts went by to try to have a good time.  As usual, the grub was terrific and Rogers brought in a live band, Stay Tuned, to liven up the festivities.  However, they are among the first local businesses to feel the financial repercussions of the NPS blockade.  The Riis Park Bazaar didn’t fair very well either and closed their doors since there were zero people at Riis Park Wednesday night.  Hopefully, they are happy with their current lease with the NPS.  Mark 6/8/16 on your calendar because it is the first time in the league’s 27 year history that a non-weather cancellation has ever occurred.  After 9-11 the RBVL played and thrived.  After Hurricane Sandy the RBVL played and expanded.  After the NPS boondoggle the RBVL has been shut down.


No one knows if the league will resume play in 2016 but if it does please pay close attention to the following two items.  Quite a few captains received an e-mail this week that their roster was either missing or not signed.  You were required to have your signed rosters in before play on Wednesday.  But we didn’t play Wednesday.  Even still, your time is up.  Drop your signed rosters off at Patty’s house at 550 B. 133rd St. by 6/14 or your matches next Wednesday on 6/15 will be forfeited.  The RBVL has enough trouble with the NPS and storage facilities so, if I were you, I’d take care of this ASAP.  If you did not pick up your uniforms this week do it before the matches next week.  With the storage space problem at Riis Park; who knows where your shirts will end up?  Your sponsors paid good money to back your efforts so get their names out there for all to see.  Options are being investigated to re-start the RBVL so stay tuned.  For updated information visit www.rbvl.com.  Your help may be needed very shortly.


Maybe we’ll see you on the beach one day soon!