We do not relish raising fees, but the city finds itself in a severe fiscal crisis and all agencies are required to reduce spending and increase revenues.
Parks staff, both full-time and seasonal, have already been reduced significantly. Tennis fees have not been increased since 2003. Under the proposed fee increase, it would cost $200 for an unlimited play permit for adults, but the low rates for seniors and children would remain $20 and $10 respectively. This still allows for unlimited play during the months of April through November, at any of the city’s more than 700 public courts. We would also raise the single play rate to $15 per person per hour.
While we recognize that this increase may be unpopular to some, we still believe it is more cost effective than other tennis options that exist at private facilities. Tennis is not being singled out, either — the fiscal crisis is requiring fee increases for recreation center memberships and ballfields. The increase in permit fees will go towards the city’s general fund which helps pay for much-needed services such as our teachers, police officers, sanitation services, as well as our parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, ballfields and tennis courts.
Our partners at the City Parks Foundation also run a free tennis program at courts throughout the five boroughs. They provide free tennis lessons to thousands of kids each year at all skill levels. Opportunities include free beginner lessons, tournaments, leagues, excellence programs and special events.
Through the continuation of free instructional programs and through keeping fees at the low $10 annual rate for kids under 18, the Parks Department is committed to ensuring that the great sport of tennis remains accessible to a new generation.
Liam Kavanagh is the city’s Deputy Parks and Recreation Commissioner.