The Parks Department has dropped plans to put bubbles over the Central Park tennis courts in the winter months after considerable community opposition.
Tennis players, park goers, environmental groups and preservation organizations strongly rebuked the department for charging an hourly rate to use enclosed courts during the winter. Many residents were concerned with the high costs to play in the off-season and the pollution emitted from generators to keep the bubbles inflated.
The Parks Department proposed putting a bubble over 24 of Central Park’s 26 clay courts. The idea was to raise money from new fees in the winter and provide additional recreation in the park. The cost to tennis buffs could have range from $30 to $100 per hour.
“The public outcry was loud and clear,” said Mel Wymore, chair of Community Board 7. “Really, the public spoke the department listened and that’s the way it should go.”
Liz Krueger, an East Side state senator whose district covers the entire park,issued a letter in opposition to the plan. Krueger said she was disturbed that the Parks Department would propose such an idea.
“[The plan] violates the entire commitment of Parks Department to keep Central Park the crown jewel,” Krueger said.
State Sen. Tom Duane, who signed the letter in opposition to the plan, said that the bubbles would look out of place in Central Park.
“I think that tennis bubbles are best left to the private sector and not on public space,” he said. “Tennis courts—fine. But bubbles—no good.”
Landmark West, a preservation group, helped organize opposition to the bubbles and hailed the department’s decision.
“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who came together on this issue,” said Cristiana Peña, director of community outreach at Landmark West. “A lot of people were concerned about Central Park in terms of preservation, the environment, or people who just like playing tennis. We came together.”
This is the second time that the Parks Department’s plans for tennis bubbles have been popped. In late April, the city backed out of a year-round permit for the Sutton East Tennis Club to operate at the Queensboro Oval during the summer months.
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