UPPER EAST SIDE — The city has extended its lease with the Sutton East Tennis club, allowing it to use the Queensboro Oval for another year while the funding and design for an alternative use is nailed down, according to officials.
The city's Parks Department is considering several different options to open up access to the park under the Queensboro Bridge at East 59th Street, including turning the entire lot, or part of it, into a turf field.
But until those plans gather enough funding, the Parks Department has decided to renew its lease with Sutton East Tennis Club from when it expires on Aug. 31 to the same date next year, officials announced — just a week after dozens of tennis players flooded a Community Board 8 meeting to demand that their tennis bubble remain in the park.
Sutton East Tennis has leased the Queensboro Oval since 1997.
"NYC Parks is pursuing a one-year extension to their license, with potential one-year renewals at Parks’ discretion, while we fully consider the site’s long-term best use," said Parks Department spokeswoman Crystal Howard.
By extending the contract by a year, the park will remain active until a decision on how to use the space is reached and while all the funds are gathered and a design is finalized, she added.
In January, Parks Department officials presented three different options that involved shortening the length of time the tennis club can operate each year or replacing the bubble entirely with a turf field and a set of permanent tennis courts.
CB8 members said they preferred a larger turf field without the tennis courts, and asked that the lot be returned to the public in the interim as a dirt field as soon as the lease with the club ends this summer.
But tennis players who regularly use the lot fought back, attending a Feb. 15 meeting to discuss plans for the park in droves, saying the tennis bubble was a rare and much-needed practice space for the community. They noted that the club pays the city more than $2 million each year to use the oval.
Jim Clynes, the chairman of Community Board 8 wouldn't comment directly on the city's plan to renew the lease with Sutton East, but said the board "looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Parks Department and our elected officials to ensure that the Queensboro Oval is returned to the public as a full-time and year-round Park."