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Hut, hut, HIKE! City mulls raising park and recreation fees • Brooklyn Paper

Hut, hut, HIKE! City mulls raising park and recreation fees

The city wants to charge more to use tennis courts like these in McCarren Park — but it was volunteers who restored the playing surface, not the city.

Tennis anyone? — better bring your checkbook.

The cash-strapped city has proposed raising its seasonal permit fees for public tennis courts from $100 to $200 — but tennis players say they’re being gouged for no reason.

“One hundred dollars per year is not a small fee and $200 is outrageous,” said Sean Hoess, founder of McCarren Tennis, a group of local players. “How many people can afford to pay that? It will be nearly impossible for middle income and lower income players to participate, even though all they need is a $40 racket and a $2 can of balls.”

The tennis permit fee is just one part of sweeping increases proposed by the Parks Department for daily and yearly usage of all its fitness centers and pools.

Under the new fee structure, the city’s standard $75 admission fee for annual membership of a recreation center with a pool, such as the Metropolitan Pool, will double to $150. Fees for fitness centers without pools will also double, from $50 to $100.

Recreational tennis players will no doubt feel the pinch, as day passes will increase from $7 to $15 and permits for ball fields are also increasing, from $32 to $50 for fields with lights and from $16 to $25 for fields without lights.

A Parks spokeswoman said that the fee increases, if adopted, would keep the facilities open at their current hours.

“Any fee increases have to go through public process and there has to be time for public hearing,” said the spokeswoman, Vicki Karp. She declined to say which facilities were facing cuts in their operating hours.

Hoess said he would be amenable a slight increase — say 20 percent — but only if a significant percentage of the tennis fees are directly allocated to maintain and repair tennis courts.

This past year, his group has raised tens of thousands of dollars to fix up McCarren Park’s worn down courts — even spending a weekend laying asphalt and repainting one court themselves.

“Not one dime of these tennis fees are allocated to the tennis courts, and the courts are falling apart everywhere in New York except where there is a private group like ours who pays to fix them,” said Hoess.

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