Central Park Tennis Bubble Gets East Side Questions

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The East Side’s community board backed an initial proposal in February 2009 to erect a bubble over the Central Park tennis courts during winter months, but the plan will get an additional review now that more details have been fleshed out. The Manhattan news website DNAinfo first reported concerns about pricey fees and noisy generators which prompted the change in heart among members of Community Board 8.

“We didn’t really know that much about how the generators were going to work, we didn’t really know that much about the pricing,” Jacqueline  Ludorf, chair of Board 8, said in an interview with Our Town.

The Parks Department is considering charging up to $100 per hour to play in the Central Park tennis courts when a bubble covers them in winter months.

Board 8 also voted down a year-round tennis bubble proposal at the Queensboro Oval, under the 59th Street Bridge, at its March 17 full board meeting.

As West Side Spirit has reported, Community Board 7, on the west side of the park, has given the Parks Department’s tennis bubble proposal a tepid reception. At Board 7’s latest meeting about the plan March 11, members expressed concern about noise and lights, and were unhappy that Parks officials could not say how frequently the diesel generators that light, heat and inflate the bubbles would need to be refueled. Many took issue with the proposed fee structure to access the bubbled courts: from $30 to $100 per hour. By comparison, the hourly rates at Alley Pond Tennis Center in Queens range from $25 to $58 per hour, and indoor rates at Prospect Park in Brooklyn only go as high as $70 per hour.

Parks officials have said the bubble would provide increased recreational opportunities during the winter, as well as revenue for the city.

Ludorf said Board 8 would like to review a finalized proposal, which probably won’t be available until May. Board 7 is scheduled to discussion the issue May 13.

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