Tennis court net is cut down in dark of night

Staff at Washington Market Park came one morning in September to discover the net at the tennis court had been cut off and stolen, clearly over the night before. But then in an even odder twist, it was found behind the shed they use for storing planting material, wedged alongside the BMCC retaining wall.

By then Parks central had replaced the net, so they were left with a damaged one discarded on their own property.

BMCC cameras mounted above the court recorded this footage of the culprit a little after 8p on Sept. 19. The man takes about 15 minutes to cut down the net, roll it up and exit, net in tow.

This has to be one of the odder happenings in Washington Market Park…



  1. Is anyone in BMCC security monitoring the cameras in real time. Apparently not.

  2. Odd that you would edit my comment about BMCC cops but do nothing about the numerous criticisms of Precinct One police. Your site, your prerogative, I guess….not unlike Twitter and Facebook.

    • I thought your comment was unfair and mean. The tennis court is not BMCC property. It is not their job to police that area. Their cameras are trained on their catwalk, and the tennis court happens to be in the cameras’ field of vision.

      • Are you serious?

        So by your logic if there was a violent crime in progress BMCC should do nothing because “not BMCC property”? Wow, the park can build a staircase just for BMCC students & staff to enter & exit the park but BMCC can’t keep an eye on a tennis court? Report the damn crime to First Precinct? Since the cops didn’t show up cuz they’re soooo busy. Wack.

        What about a nonviolent property such as this weird theft if theythief trespasses on BMCC property first? If a thief or vandal got on the tennis court via BMCC property BMCC is liable because their security did not thwart and/or report the trespass. Someone gets on my property through yours & steals stuff on my property you’re paying for it (or not – I will see if you would have to pay.)

        You expect Washington Market Park staff to do what in the middle of the night? Besides how do you know BMCC isn’t supposed to guard the property? If not why is the tennis court lit all night? So actually you’re wrong, most likely. Lighting the court suggests someone is (supposed to be) watching it besides it’s a way to discourage trespassers.

        • Just to correct your many inaccuracies: The Parks Department is not building or repairing the staircase. It is property of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and they are doing the construction. The court is lit at night because it is open for play until midnight, not so it can be “guarded.” No one was trespassing since the park is public property. Nor was it obvious to anyone at BMCC that there was any kind of crime going on. I doubt the safety of a tennis net is their top priority.

          • I didn’t say the theft of a tennis court net is or should be their “top priority” but since you want to bring up what top priority is, what is their top priority? It sure is that to you since you posted an article about the theft with a near seven minute video of it. Theft is theft albeit petty larceny & I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if someone stole your property. You do know that the net had to be replaced at a cost right? You also realize that if it was replaced by a backup net a backup had to be purchased for that net right? So cavalier.

            The Parks Department thus local/area/CB 1 residents had a say in the building of that staircase re: its environmental impact & safety. The NYDA is responsible for the security of anything directly impacted by the repairs – that includes the park & tennis court & if they aren’t someone is…that someone is NYPD with BMCC as a pair of helpful, assistant eyes.

            Which leads me to my point which you missed & is BMCC security should keep an eye on the tennis court too because it’s right along BMCC. It’s the moral, right thing to do especially since the court can’t be guarded/overseen by park workers after the park closes. Why is a camera there then? To watch a crime in progress & do nothing to stop it?

            It is most defintely trespassing when you come onto the court for some other purpose other than to play tennis like stealing the tennis net, or can I throw a party there? Steal the new net? Throw a party in the park after closing? Hey, not BMCC property so not BMCC’S responsibility to call the cops like I would if I saw a theft or trespass. Shame on you for your “not BMCC’s responsibility” stance. You guard the school you guard what’s next to it cuz that’s what a good neighbor does, ok?

    • Warranted criticism because how was this guy able to spend 15 minutes or more stealing a tennis court net between 8 and 9pm?

      How ’bout First Precinct patrols the neighborhood instead of hanging out at the precinct & next to Nancy Whiskey Pub, or sitting in patrol cars on Staple & Collister Streets (TriBeCans alley-like streets they loaf on unseen.)

      Sorry not sorry I have a problem with cops who do everything they can to avoid doing their jobs part of which is to patrol & hey, catch stop a crime on progress instead of be glorified overpaid crime scene attendants who show up after the fact. But keep running your Blue Lives Matter cops do no wrong crap. This is TriBeCa Manhattan not New Dorp Staten Island.

  3. This looks like the man who has been giving lessons on the court for YEARS. Perhaps no one interrupted him taking the net because they assumed he had the authority to change it. Did the Parks Department file a police report about the net being stolen? Do they have this footage from BMCC? This person should have to at least pay for a replacement net and should not be allowed on the court for a period of time, if ever again.

  4. Looks a lot like John Jones. Guess he didn’t realize the cameras were watching

  5. If John Jones, the man in the picture, who has illegally privatized the Washington Market Park tennis court for decades, wants to change the net on his court, you can see how he might think “What’s the big deal, it’s my court.”

    Nobody including every Washington Market Park Board for these, let’s say, two, could be three, decades has ever challenged his authority. Nor has Parks.

    When Jones put up the plaque on the court naming it after himself, nobody did anything. It’s still there.

    When he bullied neighborhood kids off the court because he needed those hours to teach lessons or had sold them to players who couldn’t or wouldn’t show up in the morning to sign up for them, silence.

    When he created his own sign up sheet and hid it on the court for his cronies to use, ditto.

    When he sells hours to pros from Midtown Tennis Club and other city tennis clubs to use to give lessons, he’s never been challenged.

    He created a 501c to administer the court. (see blog below) One year he told Parks when to start using city issued tennis permits on “his” court.

    Some years ago, tho not now I gather, if there was a problem on the court, the parks workers would call him rather than their Parks superiors.

    Anytime you have a scare resource in this city, if there is an administrative vacuum, a Mafia develops to control it. The Tribeca Tennis Godfather, John Jones, has had a long run. I know because I was one of his Henry Hills (Goodfellas).

    Now just because he changed a net, everybody’s bent out of shape?

    For more: and a good Parks person who’s been following this issue is Sam Biederman@sbiederman on Twitter.

    • To be clear, whomever is in the video didn’t change the net. They took it. The signup sheet is no longer a valid way to play tennis, ever since the parks dept issued COVID guidelines. Tennis players have had to democratically show up and wait to play (like at other public tennis courts in the city). First come first served. Since COVID, there has been a renewed interest in the courts (understandably so, since well, quarantine). Perhaps whomever took the net down didn’t like the new process, and decided no one should play. So they took the net, and then didn’t know what to do with it, so they tossed it in Washington Market Park. A new net was immediately put back up by the Parks Department within a day. In the meantime, creative players tied yellow caution tape from pole to pole to allow for continued play time. FYI: The BMCC police or security guards are rarely watching the tennis courts as they are fairly far away from them and their view is blocked.

      • Could it be the new “pickle ball” craze raging around the country? Intelligent, mature adults at war over who gets more courts – tennis or pickle ball. Tennis courts being converted to pickle ball courts all over. Pickle ball players very aggressively demanding the conversion of tennis courts.

  6. Are you seriously accusing an 83 year old man of vandalism for which he has no motive by “identifying” him from a blurry video taken from 100 feet away? You people need a life.

    You’re also outraged about a tennis net being stolen, so please check your privilege.

    John’s name is on the court because he lobbied the parks department to build it in the first place.

    If you have an issue with the way a NYC public tennis court is run, take it up with the Parks Department but please leave the armchair detective work and accusations to someone else. You sound absolutely ridiculous.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. Leave Mr. Jones alone and stop picking on TriBeCa Citizen for reporting happenings, openings, closings, etc. in the neighborhood. I’m beginning to think it is a thankless job! But I for one enjoy the updates.

      • I’m not “picking on TriBeCa Citizen” (since you don’t have the guts to reply to me directly) I’m calling out her cavalier “it’s just a net, not BMCC security’s problem” BS.

        No net no tennis. Someone has to replace the net at an unfair expense. If BMCC which has a videocamera showing the tennis court won’t report theft or trespass on it who will?

    • On the morning of Sat Sept 19th, I was waiting outside the court to use the court at 10am. The time was approx 830am. John Jones walked up and inquired who was waiting for what time. I told him I was waiting for 10am. The court was open at 9am but my partner could only play at 10am. He asked me if I could take 9am instead. I told him that I couldn’t because my partner was on a tight schedule. He paused, and asked again. I gave the same response. Then he started becoming agitated, saying things like this was his court and he should be able to get the time he wants on his court. I responded by reminding him that pre covid, the tennis players would line up to sign up to get the time they wanted. And now we have to sit and wait for the court, and if he wanted 10am he should’ve been here earlier than me and he would’ve gotten it (I was waiting from 8am). John responded and I quote “I’ll regret not helping him, that he’ll shut the whole place down!!” The next day the net was taken down. Coincidence… I think not!! Especially, since the man in the video is 100% John Jones. He is even wearing the same clothes from earlier in the morning.

  7. If I am correct, John negotiated a new (badly needed) net with The Parks Department, therefore, would probably have been taking down the old one before the putting up of the new one. So many mean and unwarranted words here leave me feeling that people have a lot of time on their hands. Ease up guys. This is not a criminal but a person who has physically maintained this court for 30 years. The plaque was not put up by him but a group of players many years ago when we had a community. Come on!

  8. As a reader of this newsletter, I am also very disheartened / unimpressed with this report in general and especially some of the comments. It is a poor reflection of the Tribeca community and I think you should seriously consider taking it down for the following reasons:

    It is easy to sit from home and misidentify the person in this video and their motive for taking down the net. Pointing your finger at John Jones from a grainy video watched from the comfort of your home is wrong, unwise, and could be considered racist by many who read this thread. This is a shameful reflection of our community and I for one am extremely embarrassed that this has even been published.

    What’s more, I shouldn’t even have to explain that comparing an 83 year old tennis instructor to a Mafia boss is extremely inappropriate. The comments on this thread not only baselessly accuse an elderly man of this action, but also completely vilify him and slander his reputation. I’ve been happy to call Tribeca home, but I am repulsed by this display of our ‘community’.

    Do better.

  9. BMCC campus police = toy cops, exercising power and authority that they do not have, mostly targeting PoC even when they are not within BMCCs premises or jurisdiction.

  10. And just like that… boom. Today the tennis courts were locked indefinitely. There’s more here than meets the eye. Power struggle of some sort. And it’s definitely not in the interest of the local tennis community.

  11. TribecaCitizen should not be criticized for posting this story. This a report on a neighborhood incident, which is exactly what TribecaCitizen was created to do! The Editor did not speculate about the identity of the person in the video; rather, she just informed the community about the incident.
    As to the person in the video: if this person in fact damaged and removed the net — which I understand is property belonging to the NYC Parks Dept — and if this person did not have authorization from the Parks Dept to do so, then I would think that this is a matter for the NYPD to look into, so as to definitively identify the person and to determine if he had authorization to take these actions. One those facts are established, then I assume that the DA and/or the NYC Corp Counsel’s office would decide whether or not to press charges.
    So while I don’t think it’s right to speculate if the facts are not known, I do think that if a crime was committed, the perpetrator should be identified and subjected to whatever penalties are applicable.