GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The Greenburgh Town Council passed a proposal Tuesday with a plea to state representatives: draft a resolution that will allow the town to lease or license a tennis facility at Anthony F. Veteran Park that is open to the general public.
“We’re not the drafters,” Supervisor Paul Feiner said of the law Tuesday at a special meeting. “We’re basically asking them to do something to help us achieve our goal of opening up tennis courts to private vendors.”
The resolution, rewritten Tuesday after concerns were raised about the likelihood it would be approved by state lawmakers, is a continuation of the town’s attempt to bring Sportime, an athletic facilities company, to Greenburgh.
The company has pledged to build a “tennis bubble” at the park that would include a sheltered tennis facility covering nine courts, allowing residents to play tennis year-round.
Supporters of the plan, including Supervisor Paul Feiner, tout a potential for $3 million in revenue over the next 15 years from the lease of the facility and improvements to the aging tennis courts at no cost to the town.
Opponents argue the park is funded by residents of unincorporated Greenburgh and should, therefore, only be open to them.
But amid a series of last minute emails and conversations with state representatives and village mayors, the town board said the resolution, as it was written, may have had trouble passing through the state.
“They wanted something more general,” said Council member Francis Sheehan, referring to State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly member Thomas Abinanti (D-Greenburgh).
As a result, the town is deferring to the two representatives, asking them to draft something more likely to pass, with or without changing the wording of the controversial Finneran Law of 1982, which restricts the use of the park to only residents of unincorporated Greenburgh.
Without finding a way around that law, or an actual amendment to that law, Sportime has said it will not come to Greenburgh because the current law significantly restricts park usage and would not profitable enough.
As an alternative to amending the law, which was previously proposed, town officials are now open to gaining approval to lease the land while leaving the law untouched.
“This way we don’t get into Finneran Law,” Feiner said.
The town’s hope is that with Tuesday’s approval of the resolution, state lawmakers will be able to address the issue before they break for recess this summer.
But opponents to the plan, including Edgemont lawyer and civic leader Bob Berstein, said the Edgemont Community Council and a number of other civic associations will continue to urge legislators not to adopt a proposal as it will leave residents in unincorporated Greenburgh exposed and without protection to a bad contract with Sportime or any other vendor.
The proposal could also lead to a lift of restrictions on all town property that are currently supposed to be limited to unincorporated residents, Bernstein said, warning that could lead to huge costs for unincorporated residents.
“We will do everything in our power to persuade the state legislators that this is a truly bad idea and they should not embrace it at this time,” Bernstein told the board.