Central Park Tennis Courts To Bubble Over?

On Thursday evening, Community Board 7’s Parks and Preservation committee will hold a meeting to discuss having three translucent “bubbles” cover public tennis courts by the Central Park Tennis Center, located at 94th and 95th streets. Originating from the Parks Department, 26 Har-Tru courts would be weatherproofed from Nov. 15 to March 24 every year for the next 15 years.

According to Penny Ryan, CB7 District Manager, the private concession would change the rate structure from the current setup, in which tennis players buy a $100 permit for the whole year, to a yet-undetermined fee set by the concessionaire. Potential operators have not yet been named as the contract is still under negotiations with the Franchise and Commission Review Committee.

The larger issues surrounding the inflatable concession include the heat, light and compressed air in the bubbles powered by possibly noisy diesel generators around the clock. There’s also the visual impact it would have on the park (the bubbles would be 35 feet high) the undecided price of entry, and birds. Apparently, the luminosity at night could confuse Central Park’s avian population, and the compressed air machines could also be a potential danger to them.

The proposal comes from both the Parks Department and residents who would like to be able to play tennis during the bad weather. The proposal will be discussed at the Parks and Preservation meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Board offices, 250 West 87th Street.