Improvements to tennis facility—by some accounts a need even before the courts opened in 2002—have been discussed for years, to no conclusion. While both the village and private operator back those renovations, exactly what they should be and how they’ll be financed are issues dividing the two sides, as they did in a meeting Monday.
Sportime, which profitably manages the village-owned facility—and by its count forks over $400,000 annually in return—has agreed to pay for the improvements but wants Mamaroneck to use its municipal bonding authority to provide attractive financing. For its part, the board of trustees faces not only the perceived risk of putting millions in bonds on the village books but also charges of using public money to build a cash cow, then turn it over to a privately held business.
In the latest showdown Monday, Claude Okin, Sportime’s chief executive officer, noted that the two sides negotiating improvements had been “at it” for more than a decade. Referring to a 2009 letter of agreement, he said that the village then had been given “a couple of years” to decide on facility renovations and that, in effect, time’s up.
While Sportime does not “want to be a bully with the village,” he said, the options have come down to holding Mamaroneck to the more-ambitious, pricier 2009 agreement or restricting improvements to today’s tennis facility, which Okin said “needed to be fixed in 1999.”
“We’d like to make a facility that can compete in the market,” he said. Okin put the cost of the scaled-back, tennis-only renovations at $2 million.
By contrast, the 2009 accord called for creating a multisport facility for activities like in-line skating and indoor soccer, four outdoor soccer fields and more than 480 parking slots. Village Manager Richard Slingerland put the project’s price tag at between $6-9 million.
Calling bank financing nonexistent today and private borrowing costly at between 10.9 and 12 percent interest, Okin renewed his call for the village to issue private activity municipal bonds, which would bankroll the project and which Sportime would retire.
Both Mayor Norman S. Rosenblum, who has supported the bond financing, and Trustee John Hofstetter, who has not, restated their positions Monday night. Acknowledging the board’s reluctance to move forward with any of the Harbor Island proposals, Rosenblum called the tennis facility a “political hot potato.” Nevertheless, he said, the village has “a responsibility to come to a decision.”
“I think the public should have input into it,” he said, directing that the issue be included on the board’s June 13 meeting agenda.
In other matters . . .
Trash Cash. Monday’s meeting is also expected to include consideration of a consultants’ report suggesting Mamaroneck could save as much as $270,000 a year in garbage-collection costs through route consolidations and other cost-cutting recommendations. The economies include once weekly pickups instead of two, an end to backyard collections and a volume cap for commercial customers.
Wage Equality. The board agreed informally Monday to support legislation pending in the state Senate to give women pay parity. The bill, S.2200, would establish criteria for defining job equivalency jobs and ensuring equal pay for those jobs. The State Fair Pay Act, which has already passed in the Assembly, would also protect workers by forbidding retaliation against employees who identify wage discrimination.
Attorney Fees. Village Manager Richard Slingerland and Village Attorney Michael McDermott were directed to draft a policy governing the public’s interaction with lawyers advising the village’s land-use boards. The trustees are concerned that extended questioning runs up the clock or the lawyers, who bill the village by the hour.