Tennis anyone? Anytime?
The Parks Department wants to build a tennis bubble over McCarren Park’s newly renovated courts — making the sport of gentlemen a year-round occurrence.
The bubble, similar to tennis facilities at Prospect Park, would operate from November to April, charge hourly fees and be privately managed, said a source familiar with the proposal.
The proposal would likely stipulate that the operator contribute towards maintaining the courts — but it remains unclear how much cash would be involved.
Parks officials declined to comment before their presentation at tonight’s Community Board 1 meeting in Williamsburg.
So far, one group has expressed interest in operating the tennis bubble.
Greenpoint resident and tennis pro Arthur Bobko, who is leading a group of neighborhood business leaders in a bid for the bubble, has been campaigning for indoor tennis at McCarren for nearly two years.
“We would like to focus on kids,” said Bobko, who runs a tennis center in the Bronx. “We don’t have anything to them to offer to them on the winter. We’d like to introduce sports to give them a healthier life.”
But Bobko and other tennis advocates will have to hold serve as some neighborhood residents question the need to privatize public park facilities
“It’s not like it is an ice skating rink or equestrian stables that need a high degree of specialized expertise— it’s a tennis court!” said Meredith Chesney, who owns a salon near McCarren Park. “Yes, a bubble will extend the playing season and make revenue, but who gets the profits? The park? The neighborhood? Doubt it.”
Even supporters admit that an extended season is not good enough if the money doesn’t trickle down to the courts themselves.
“We’re pushing to use this to fund McCarren’s tennis courts,” said Sean Hoess, whose group, McCarren Tennis, resurfaced one of the courts by itself after years of city neglect. “If the city doesn’t issue a quality proposal with no giveback to the park, then a lot of people will be pissed by this.”
Tennis players and the city aren’t exactly in a love match this year, what with the Parks Department doubling annual permit fees from $100 to $200 in February.
Public hearing on the bubble idea at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center [211 Ainslie St. at Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 389-0009], March 8, 6:30 pm.