Thursday, March 18, 2010

Community Board 8 Rejects Year Round Tennis Concession

Community Board  8 on the Upper East Side nearly unanimously rejected a proposal Wednesday night that would have allowed a private tennis club from operating year-round on public park land. Currently the tennis concession charges up to $ 180 per hour on  the Queensboro Oval softball field under the 59th Street bridge which operates in the park up to eight months of the year. The board voted 35 to 2, with two abstentions.  The vote came five months after the concessionaire had already signed a contract which is a strong point of contention because opponents of the plan charge they had not been properly notified of the proposal. A Walk In The Park has learned however that the contract has not yet been registered by the Comptroller's office.

The night saw many passionate appeals on behalf of park users, families and park advocates. Lawsuits were also mentioned numerous times by opponents of the plan if the Parks Department did not cancel the contract. Manhattan Parks Commissioner William Castro has publicly stated on several occasions that the city would listen to the community in making its determination. Meanwhile permits have not yet begun to be issued for the outdoor softball season which begins shortly  –  Geoffrey Croft 


It was a small crowd of people making a potentially giant decision whether to allow an expanded season at Sutton East, a tennis club under a bubble beneath the Queensborough Bridge on the far East Side, according to NY 1.

"These are the facts -- 2,000 people play tennis at the Queensboro Oval every week, 17 hours a day in a location that's convenient, safe and open rain or shine. We employ more than 50 people, we charge no membership fees, people can play and take classes on our courts for as little as $45 an hour," said Sutton East Owner Tony Skolnick.

Opponents to year-round tennis say residents should not have to pay to play on public land.

"The issue here is not tennis versus softball, it's not rich versus poor and it's not who uses it," said Upper East Side resident Bob Bailin. "The issue here is this is a public space, this is a public park that's being sold to a private entity, that's the issue."

After listening to testimony from both sides, Community Board 8 rejected the city and the tennis concession's proposal to have tennis in the bubble all year long, opting to leave the arrangement as it is -- eight months for tennis, four for other activities like softball when the bubble is down.

Read More:

UES Board Deflates Year-Round Tennis Proposal

NY1 - March 17, 2010 - By Rebecca Spitz 

No Gang War,  but a Turf Battle Nonetheless

New York Times City Room - March 18,  2010 , By ELISA MALA

Upper East Side Land Grab As Parks' Looks to Sell Ballfield to Tennis Concessionaire

A Walk In The Park - February 17, 2010 

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