Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bloomberg Proposes Doubling Recreation Center Fees - Tennis and Ballfield Fees Soar

In 2006 the IBO found that after increased fees were introduced, attendance at 20 recreation centers fell by 13 percent, while membership at five free centers soared by 23 percent.

“The fee increase may seriously undercut access in low-income communities that are likely to be especially sensitive to price increases." IBO - New York Times - December 7, 2010

Natlynn Haywood outside St. Mary’s Recreation Center on Tuesday. (Photo: Ed Ou/The New York Times)

Under a Bloomberg administration proposal membership fees for recreation centers would be doubled and seniors face a 150% increase. Under the plan tennis court permits would also double - from $100 to $200 and the fee for lighted ball fields would rise to $50, from $32. If enacted recreation fees would be tripled under Bloomberg administration.

“Even with the fee increase, recreation centers are still a bargain," said Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp who makes more than $100,000 per year.

The Parks Department is now responsible for bringing in 91% of the City's concession revenue.

"According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in Hunts Point and Mott Haven, where the Hunts Point and St. Mary’s recreation centers are located, (St. Mary's Recreation Center was free until a few years ago. -Ed) one in three adults gets no physical activity, and one in four is obese, " former Parks Commissioner and then Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum testified in 2006 in opposition to higher recreation fees. "The rate of heart disease is 45 percent higher than in the city as a whole; diabetes two times higher."

"I believe I can honestly say that few understand better than I do the need to find new sources of revenue to ensure the upkeep of our parks and facilities. After all, when I was Commissioner my budget was cut by 30 percent. But to impose membership fees that stifle use of our recreation centers by New Yorkers of limited means for the sake of a marginal boost in revenue—that is simply unjustifiable."

"But is it really fair to expect low-income neighborhoods with serious health problems and little access to recreational facilities to take on the burden of a policy that was bad to begin with?"

New York City ranks dead last in the provision of recreation centers for a high density city. – Geoffrey Croft

City -Wide

He has implored New Yorkers to cut down on salt, to stop guzzling sugary drinks and to think twice about the calorie content in extra-tall lattes and grande burritos. But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s latest idea may actually make it harder for New Yorkers to stay fit.

To help close a $2.4 billion budget gap, the Bloomberg administration has proposed doubling the admission fee at the city’s 32 recreation centers and increasing the fee to play on tennis courts and ball fields, according to the New York Times.

Under the plan, adults would pay $150 each year for access to recreational centers with pools, up from $75. At centers without pools, adults would pay $100 instead of $50. Children under 17 would continue to be admitted free, and senior citizens would face a modest raise, to $25, from the current $10 each year.

The proposed increases are a tiny part of Mr. Bloomberg’s strategy to find new revenue as the city prepares for drastic, across-the-board cuts, including major decreases in the teaching force and cutbacks in services for vulnerable children.

But the higher recreational fees may prompt some of the most visible ire, given that about 174,000 people use the centers. The city must hold a public hearing before the increases go into effect, but it has not yet been scheduled.

Under the plan, the Parks and Recreation Department would also increase the cost of tennis court permits to $200, from $100, and the fee for lighted ball fields would rise to $50, from $32.

The increases would be instituted sometime before June 30, and according to city estimates could potentially generate $1 million for the city this fiscal year, which ends then. In subsequent years, the increases could yield $4 million a year in revenue.

Read More:

To Trim Deficit, Mayor Seeks Increased Fees for Recreation

New York Times - December 7, 2010 - By Javier C. Hernandez

Testimony of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum for Parks Department Hearing

on Proposed Membership Fees at City Recreation Centers

April 20, 2006


  1. Yet another way to get rid of the pesky poor and middle class. Let's have a rousing hand for the developers. Maybe we can get rid of the recreational facilities nd build some more luxury housing.

  2. yeah, if you wanna live in the city and enjoy you better be making serious democracy and the art of price discrimination