Plans to revamp Harbor Island’s tennis facility deserve input from the people who drafted the park’s comprehensive blueprint in 2003, Mamaroneck Village officials heard Monday.
George Schieferdecker, who helped draw the Harbor Island Master Plan and now helps oversee its implementation committee, urged the village to tap into homegrown expertise, as embodied in the park planning committee, before settling on a development option. The board of trustees devoted more than a third of its Monday meeting in Village Hall to discussion of the park’s tennis facility and a long-postponed decision on future upgrades.
Sportime, a private contractor that has managed the courts since 2002, hammered out an apparent deal in 2009 to expand the facility. Under the deal, Sportime would move the courts from the center of the 44-acre park to a site nearer Boston Post Road, behind a wastewater treatment plant. When the village—after a year—had not acted on the deal, Sportime scaled back the proposed upgrade in 2010, suggesting $2 million in improvements to the existing facility.
After a year without action on that proposal, Claude Okin, Sportime’s chief executive officer, stopped short Monday of threatening litigation, saying only, “My largest concern is that we wind up in dispute.” Okin described a “dispute” as the “last thing Sportime wants.”
A number of residents followed Okin to the microphone, questioning everything from marketing and financing to use of the courts by nonresidents.
When Schieferdecker spoke, he recalled that the master plan had envisioned the center of the park free of tennis courts and their view-obstructing inflatable “bubbles.”
The master plan called for moving the courts from their present location—at the park’s center—to a site behind the waste treatment plant near the Boston Post Road. Schieferdecker described that move as a “compact and efficient solution.”
But the new location faces two hurdles: county maintenance easements and financing.
The design of any facility near the treatment plant must take into account the easements, which provide access to below-ground wastewater pipes.
Under the ambitious 2009 agreement, Sportime would build a home for multisport activities like in-line skating, an indoor soccer field and four outdoor ones, a project expected to cost anywhere from $6-$9 million. While Sportime would foot the bill for the project—and collect the gross revenue it generated—the village would own the facility. As a result, Okin said, Sportime cannot use the new buildings as collateral for the loan, the way a homeowner guarantees a mortgage with the house itself.
Okin has asked the village to issue private activity municipal bonds to finance the project. Sportime would retire the bonds, picking up the full tab for improvements, financing and debt service, the 2009 accord spells out.
The board is scheduled to take up the tennis issue again at Monday’s work session.