Central Park Tennis Bubble Plan to be Revisited by Upper East Side Community Board
By Serena Solomon
MANHATTAN — Community leaders on the Upper East Side will likely revisit their decision to approve a winter bubble over Central Park's tennis courts after Upper West Side residents complained it would create an exclusive club.
Expensive court fees and environmental concerns were cited by Upper West Side residents at two recent public presentations to Community Board 7, causing Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side to take a closer look at the plan it approved in February of last year.
"It is most likely we will revisit the issue knowing this new information about the bubble," said Jackie Ludorf, chairwoman of Community Board 8. "Especially because this has become a big issue with Board 7."
It will cost visitors $30 to $100 an hour to play on the climate-controlled courts during the winter depending on demand, according to the Parks Department. The plan also calls for golf carts to shuttle uptown tennis players from Fifth Avenue and Central Park West to the courts.
"I was originally in support of the program, but at a lower fee," said Upper West Side resident Al Lewis, who has played tennis at Central Park near 95th Street for 15 years. "It's going to be ugly, and it's going to be an exclusive club."
The environmental impact and noise from a 24-hour generator needed to keep the climate-controlled bubble inflated raised concerns by Community Board 7, Ludorf said. The cost to run the generator and heat the 26 courts during the winter is part of the reason for the expensive fees.
Regardless of the reasons, residents don't want to fork over that much cash to play tennis on a public court.
"This is free public space," CB 8’s Ludorf said. "A lot of people could not afford it, and that would be a big problem for [our] community board."
The Parks Department will be invited back to Community Board 8 in April or May to conduct a presentation with the new information, Ludorf noted.