An Upper East Side community group voted unanimously against a plan that would have allowed a cold-weather tennis bubble to operate year-round inside a tiny park tucked beneath the Queensboro Bridge. After a reportedly contentious hearing in which tennis players who supported the plan argued with baseball and softball players who said it would privatize public land, Community Board 8's Parks Committee voted en masse against the proposal.
The group's vote to keep Sutton East Tennis Club from extending its lease with the city from eight months per year to twelve months per year was only advisory, however neighborhood baseball and softball players took the meeting seriously, according to Our Town. "They're selling public open space that the community uses," said Jessica Bondy. Tennis players and supporters said keeping the bubble open year-round would keep workers employed and bring more activity to the "underutilized" Queensboro Oval. "Instead of having just softball, hundreds of kids get to have top quality tennis instruction during the summer," said Parks Department Manhattan borough commissioner William Castro.
Throughout the meeting, both baseball players and tennis players said their rivals could find somewhere else to play, and both sides reportedly rejected that suggestion. Under the Parks Department's proposed deal with the tennis club, the city would make an additional $1.9 million this year, with revenues increasing in the following years. The plan will go before CB8's full board next. Parks officials told Gothamist they were interested in hearing opinions at community meetings before making a final decision.