By Serena Solomon
MIDTOWN — An online petition protesting a proposed bubble over tennis courts in Central Park has garnered over 1,200 signatures, showing that the grassroots movement against the plan is gaining ground.
Landmarks West, the Upper West Side preservationist group that organized the petition, is pushing for the Department of Parks and Recreation to ditch its plans to cover 26 tennis courts in the park near West 96th Street with a climate controlled bubble.
Many Upper West Side residents have furiously opposed the department's plan, which involves charging up to a $100-an-hour for court rentals.
Cristiana Peña, director of community outreach for Landmarks West, said that those who signed the petition were "people from all over the city and all over the country that use the park that know that this is not right."
The four bubbles, each 35-feet high, would degrade the integrity of Central Park, which is considered a scenic landmark, Landmarks West said.
Now, thanks to the efforts of its west side neighbords, Community Board 8 on the east side of the park, which had already approved the tennis bubble early last year, is revisiting the issue at a meeting on Thursday night.
Jackie Ludorf, the chairwoman of CB 8, said that the community board is looking over the issue again, due in part to the outrage over the plan exhibited by Upper West Side residents.
Environmental protection, historic preservation and community groups have joined forces protesting the plans through the petition, according to Peña.
The Sierra Club, a large national environmental organization with about 1.3 million members, is one of the organizations that has signed on.
Moisha Blechman, who is a part of the New York state chapter, said that one of her concerns is the diesel generator the Parks Department is planning to use to keep the bubble inflated.
"My biggest concern is the CO2 or carbon dioxide... because they are using diesel fuel," said Blechman. "Its a concentration of poison."
The Parks Committee of CB 8 is scheduled to discuss the Central Park tennis bubble on Thursday 15th April at 6:30 p.m. at the Ramaz School, 125 East 85th Street.
The Parks Department is scheduled to meet with CB 7 and Upper West Side residents again in May.