GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Outspoken Greenburgh residents raised a racket during a Wednesday public hearing over whether or not the Town of Greenburgh should suggest an amendment to a New York State law, which has been motivated by the proposed development of a year-round tennis facility at Anthony F. Veteran Park.
The Greenburgh Town Council is considering issuing a recommendation to state legislators to change a law enacted in 1982 – known as the Finneran Law – that would allow residents outside unincorporated Greenburgh to use the park’s tennis courts.
Behind the suggestion is a proposal from Sportime, an athletic facilities company, to build a “tennis bubble” at the park free of charge that would include a sheltered tennis facility covering nine courts that would allow residents to play tennis year-round.
Supporters of the change, including Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, say it would be a “can’t miss,” “win-win” and “golden opportunity” to bring sorely needed funds to the town and allow the courts to be renovated free of cost.
Still, others complain that taxpayers in unincorporated Greenburgh would get a raw deal. Only residents of unincorporated Greenburgh pay taxes on the park, which is town-owned – leading many to argue that only those paying for the park should be permitted to use it.
“The unincorporated residents will be paying to allow everyone else in,” resident Hal Samis said.
In the midst of the debate, some residents chided the board during Wednesday’s hearing for focusing so much time that could be dedicated on issues like traffic, infrastructure and flooding.
“I think there is more that needs to be addressed in Greenburgh than whether we can play tennis year-round,” Thomas Bock said.
But Greenburgh Tennis Director Janet Lefkowitz, along with a number of tennis instructors and players, pointed to lackluster conditions at the park and see Sportime as a chance to fix the courts.
“It would be criminal to let this golden opportunity slip away,” she said.
Feiner agreed that the opportunity shouldn’t be passed up.
“Our tennis courts are in serious need of major infrastructure improvements,” he said. “We don’t have the money and we’ve been delaying and delaying the repairs. If we contract” with Sportime “or another company we would be able to get them to improve the facilities at their expense, not ours.”
Still, Sportime representatives have told the town they aren’t interested in building the facility unless the amendment is passed because the current law significantly restricts park usage.
According to Feiner, State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins is open to the idea. A representative from Cousins’ office attended the hearing Wednesday and said that the state senator suggested that the Town of Greenburgh and its villages find agreement on the matter to make it easier for the state to consider passing the amendment.
Local officials from both sides of the spectrum have also weighed in on the matter. Greenburgh’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously approved suggesting the change. The Village Officials Committee, made up of mayors from Tarrytown, Ardsley, Irvington, Hastings and Elmsford, however, voiced their opposition to the plan in an email to the board.
Herb Rosenberg, a former justice in Dobbs Ferry, said without an agreement between the town and its villages, Wednesday’s lengthy debate may be all for naught.
“Senator Stewart-Cousins has said there need to be an agreed upon proposal between the town board and the villages. So this is a pointless exercise,” Rosenberg said. “The town’s proposal will not pass.”
The Greenburgh Town Council will vote Tuesday on whether or not to make the recommendation to the state.