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Tennis Bubble Proposed for East River Park Courts

By Serena Solomon | March 24, 2014 9:45am
 A tennis bubble has been proposed to cover some or all of the 12 courts in East River Park.
A tennis bubble has been proposed to cover some or all of the 12 courts in East River Park.
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LOWER EAST SIDE — A tennis bubble could be on the way to East River Park.

The Parks Department is in talks to bring a heated bubble to cover at least some of the 12 tennis courts along the East River just north of the Williamsburg Bridge, to allow people to play year-round, officials said.

The proposal came from Thomas Sellin, an Upper East Side art dealer and tennis instructor who was also involved in a controversial tennis bubble proposal in Central Park in 2010. That plan was shot down after park advocates and residents objected to the planned $100 hourly court fee.

Sellin declined to be interviewed about his plans and has released few details, including the proposed fees for court time in the bubble.

After Sellin presented his preliminary ideas last week to Community Board 3, board members asked him to return with more specifics, as well as evidence of support from nearby residents.

"I don't think people were either for or against it," said Thomas Yu, chairman of CB3's parks committee. "There just wasn't enough data to really discuss it."

Sellin has also been speaking to the Parks Department, which controls the tennis courts. 

"We have had preliminary conversations with Mr. Sellin in regards to his idea," a Parks spokesman said in an email.

The Parks Department is also working on a separate $2.5 million plan to resurface the East River Park courts, the spokesman said.

Sellin told CB3 the bubble would only be in place during the winter months, board members said, but a document on the CB3 website said the structure would cover the courts year-round.

Sellin also proposed using the bubble for art exhibitions and other events to enliven the area during colder months, said Jan Hanvik, another CB3 member.

"I think it would be great if there was a tennis dome and you could go and use it in the winter," Hanvik said.

According to a short biography of Sellin on Community Board 3's website, he has coached "thousands of children" in tennis around the city and was a site director for CityParks Tennis.