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Friday, October 12, 2007

Roosevelt Island Tennis Club Follow-Up

The Webcast of the RIOC Board's Real Estate Committee meeting on the proposed License Modification for the Roosevelt Island Racquett Club is now available for viewing. Those interested in getting a small glimpse of how decisions are made concerning the future of Roosevelt Island will find the 30 minutes both fascinating and tedious.
A Roosevelt Island resident who supports the expansion of the Tennis Club sends in this letter of support which I have excerpted below. The full contents of the letter appear in the comments section.

The recreational needs, and more specifically the tennis needs of Roosevelt Island’s population, 12,000 and growing, is not adequately served by the small volume of courts at Octagon, (the number of which have remained unchanged since the Island’s population was 2000.)

The Racquet Club’s 530 members as well as 50 staff frequently arrive and depart (for hourly games) on our tramway and eat at or order from our restaurants. The Racquet Club provides free instruction and play to a vast amount of community residents. PS/IS 217 uses 5 courts for several hours, twice a week for its children. The NY Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) program runs on weekends from the first week of November to April. The Winter program provides continuity throughout the year to an enrollment of approximately 300 children. Adults enjoy a significant discount in their membership fees, the Racquet Club has provided free hours for Roosevelt Islanders since its inception, and much of the Racquet Club’s open programs are used by Roosevelt Island residents.
I question whether this is sufficient reason to expand the facility without first exploring additional alternatives. I sent the following message to RIOC President Shane seeking more information on the proposed expansion.
... Since you have advised that had I previously asked about the length of the tennis club's license term you would have informed me it extends through 2031, I would like to ask you the following questions regarding the Racquet Club's proposed lease modification in the interest of a fully and knowledgeable Roosevelt Island public and hope to get a similar response.

What is the approximate square footage of the premises?

I understand from the webcast of the Real Estate committee meeting that the current base license fee is $225 thousand with approximately an additional $60 - $70 thousand in % fee. Is that correct?

What is the new proposed license fee?

How does the license fee for the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club compare to other similarly situated clubs in New York City? Is it comparable in terms of fees and term? Is it even a relevant question?

Since the current license term extends through 2031 why does it have to be extended for an additional 15 years? The waiver of any potential liability for tram discontinuance does not seem reason enough to justify such an extension. After all there have been previous occasions when the tram was out of service and to my knowledge no such liability occurred. The willingness of the Tennis club owner to spend additional sums on a market study to determine the potential of a business opportunity for themselves hardly seems reason for RIOC to extend the license term either. Please explain what benefit does RIOC receive in exchange for the additional 15 year term?

Why does the Public Authorities Act not apply to such a large space as the Tennis Club with a license term extending to the year 2048. These premises are not the small shops on Main Street where applying the Public Authorities Law makes no sense.
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How many Roosevelt Island residents are members of the club, either adult or children? What is the discount rate for Roosevelt Island residents and for how long has that been in effect?

Eventually, if an RFP is issued for the Sportspark facility and a bidder other than the current tennis club operator wins the RFP, under the terms of the proposed license modification, what exactly does that bidder have to pay the tennis club operator. I watched the webcast of the real estate committee meeting and am unclear in the event that another bidder wins the RFP what you meant by the winning bidder having to pay the tennis club for it's "going business value". Do you mean merely the value of the current tennis club or do you mean to include the potential value of a new "Chelsea Pier" type complex at the combined Sportspark/tennis facility. If you mean the potential value of the new facility that would put a competing bidder at a severe and unfair disadvantage in any bidding process.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would provide answers to these questions so that I may present the issue clearly, correctly and fairly to readers of Roosevelt Islander.

I was also surprised that none of these questions were raised during the RIOC Board's Real Estate subcommittee meeting. Is it that they either already knew the answers to these questions, do not think them relevant or some other reason that I am not aware of? ...

10 comments :

ROOSEVELT ISLANDER said...

Below is the full text of the letter written by a Roosevelt Island resident in support of the expansion of the Tennis Club.

October 4, 2007

Board of Directors
Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
591 Main Street
NY NY 10044


Dear Members of the Board:


The land on which the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club sits is parkland. At one time, the site was comprised of open space as well as an outdoor roller rink and baseball field. From time to time, debris, often consisting of automotive parts, would rain down from the bridge above, making play on the field, without the protection of a structure, a dangerous undertaking.

The recreational needs, and more specifically the tennis needs of Roosevelt Island’s population, 12,000 and growing, is not adequately served by the small volume of courts at Octagon, (the number of which have remained unchanged since the Island’s population was 2000.)

The Racquet Club’s 530 members as well as 50 staff frequently arrive and depart (for hourly games) on our tramway and eat at or order from our restaurants. The Racquet Club provides free instruction and play to a vast amount of community residents. PS/IS 217 uses 5 courts for several hours, twice a week for its children. The NY Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) program runs on weekends from the first week of November to April. The Winter program provides continuity throughout the year to an enrollment of approximately 300 children. Adults enjoy a significant discount in their membership fees, the Racquet Club has provided free hours for Roosevelt Islanders since its inception, and much of the Racquet Club’s open programs are used by Roosevelt Island residents.

Having the Racquet Club as our neighbor provides the additional benefit of attracting new residents to Roosevelt Island, many who moved here as a result of their introduction to the community through the facility.

With the increase in developed space and the shrinkage of open and recreational space in our community, every effort should be made to not only support the Racquet Club’s continuation, but to expand on the professional services it can provide our community.

In closing, it should be well noted that Skip Hartman, a partner in the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club, has not only successfully run the facility here, but to his great credit, he created the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation as well as having run the NY Junior Tennis League for many years. Mr. Hartman’s success was recognized by the US Tennis Association who appointed him to head children’s programming, reaching countless children across the country. He has an exceptional track record providing recreational and educational enrichment that could foster even greater benefit for our community if he were given the opportunity.

The interest of the community would best be served by expanding Mr. Hartman’s role in providing recreational facilities, not by diminishing them. While real estate development of land may secure greater revenue, balance must be struck with the need for services that exists in our “family” oriented community.


Sincerely Yours,


Joyce Mincheff
Site Director, NY Jr. Tennis League
Past President, Roosevelt Island Tennis Association

Slava said...

Could you (somebody) find out on what days & what time is this happen, and how long (all year around, 2 months/year: "PS/IS 217 uses 5 courts for several hours, twice a week for its children."

Anonymous said...

"the Racquet Club has provided free hours for Roosevelt Islanders since its inception, and much of the Racquet Club’s open programs are used by Roosevelt Island residents."

I would like to enyoj thay free hours, and open programs - but I just find out I am not informed.
My younger child is at PS 217, how I could ask Ms. Joyce Mincheff - when there is free classes for PS 217 kids

Anonymous said...

There is nothing free except early morning classes for the RI kids (past year was Sat/ Sun 6:00AM ??!!!). I wanted to sign up my child for the Junior program (afternoons-more appropriate hours). The price is outragiuos and THERE IS NO ANY DISCOUNT for the RI children. Simple as it is.

Also, if I remember correctly , the classes are offered only to IS/217 - Middle School students through the school list. About (5) offered courts .... I don't believe that this info is correct.

Anonymous said...

The reason I'm writing is a belief that we, as only year around users of the Sportspark facility, might be tremendously affected by this:
"Third Modification of the License Agreement between Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and HCK Recreation, Inc."

Almost three years ago, we-parents, started a swimming club on the island. With a help of the Westview management, we were able to organize
Learn To Swim Program for children. At that time we had approximately 25-30 swimmers. Nine months later ,we got an agreement with RIOC
to rent the Sportspark pool and expand our program to include older children and more experienced swimmers.
As a community based group, the rate was reduced to $30/hr., so we could have afforded it.
Since then , the number of the kids grows. At Sportspark in this moment we have over 50 children , swimming 4 times a week , 90 min,
(classes offered at a reasonable price ). There are over 50 swimmers in our Learn To Swim Program, at Westview , getting ready for
a transfer to the Sportspark pool. At the same time, we have registered our Team with USAS organizaetion, and fully partcipating in
Metro meets, presenting Roosevelt Island as Roosevelt Island Marlins Swim Team.
We envision an expansion of this program in a direction that will allow more and more children to join and enjoy this wonderful sport
at affordable price. We would like to have the Sportspark pool available 7 days/ week so we can offer classes for all ages and levels.

The corporation is registered as a non-for-profit. The both programs are run by a group of the enthusiastic parents-volunteers,
Only employees we have are our coaches , instructors and lifeguards.
An exceptional Head Coach was hired to teach our swimmers, and another Coach Assistant , RI resident , has recently joined our team.
RI Marlins offering lifeguard positions to RI young adults and teenagers.

In the last Wire issue we read Mr. Shane's comment about possibility of giving Sportspark to the Racquet Club to expand their
program for Manhattan residents (who are in a need for more tennis courts)... The news was so upsetting , because we saw the
Sportspark facility as a RI. Marlins home. Even we used it only 4 times a week, we revived that pool with our presence, and now
we feel endangered. As a parent , who went to the Racquet Club to ask about prices for the Junior Program, and was first shocked
learning how much it would cost,and then informed that there are NO ANY DISCOUNTS for the RI children, I'm fearing that if they
take over Sportspark, swimming will be out of the reach for many RI kids and all the other programs will be purely designed for people with very deep pockets.

We just feel so powerless......we even don't know which door to knock on.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Why don't you have a "This is inappropriate" button?

I know these comments are from nearly 2 years ago but this stuff persists into perpetuity so PLEASE at least read them and remove those that place inappropriate comments such as the idiot above that put up a link to a sports betting site in response to a serious concern of a parent and volunteer for the fabulous swim team The Marlns!!

ROOSEVELT ISLANDER said...

May 7,

the comment was removed. Sometimes I miss inappropriate comments. If I do and someone points it out I am happy to remove it.

Thank you for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for managing this blog. I have come late to this discussion but I'd like to say that the tennis club, while fabulously wonderful for wealthy people of all shapes and sizes is pretty much out of reach of even the most financially comfortable of RI residents. We looked into getting tennis lessons for our kids and ourselves because we feel it is a life-long sport and one that suits our family. Guess how much it all cost even if all discounts were applied?Somewhere on the order of nearly $7500.00 per YEAR for the 5 of us!!!! (That price includes membership in the club which gets us "discounted" court prices and instructor prices).

We based this on 100 hours of court time which is the minimum amount you need to book to make the high initial membership cost worth it!!! Here is how we got this unacceptably high price: (P.S. my rough guess is that our income level puts us in approximately the top 5% of RI Residents and I say this only to put the reality of the pricing offered by the club into a realistic perspective in terms of how much it "helps" the average resident by being here -- that is to say NOT AT ALL.)


As Roosevelt Island Residents, I calculated the cost of membership in the tennis bubble club is as follows:

Annual Couple membership with 50% R.I. Resident's discount=$1200/couple + $250 initiation fee = $1450

Annual Child membership with 50% R.I. Resident's discount= $187.50 + (no initiation fee req. if purchased with couple membership) So annual membership for 3 children is $562.50 + Mom & Dad membership of $1450 =

Annual Family of 5 membership as RI resident = $2012.50

Now for the court time fees - so let's say first of all the Members discount saves anywhere from 33% to 40% off of non-member court fees and cost an average of about $60 / hour on weekdays and $65/ weekends. Prices vary based on time of day (http://www.rirctennis.com/rates.htm) So being a member pays off but only if you use the courts for a minimum of X hours per year to make up for the cost of the $2000+ in membership fees.

So let's book the lowest priced courts (weekday, morning hours 7-10am) for $50/hour (RI residents get a further 50% discount on court fee but ONLY if no one else has booked the court 24 hours before you want to play so let's assume there's only about a 50% chance of you actually ever finding such an open court) then we pay $25 50% of the time so average cost is $32.50/hour right?

As a R.I. resident non-member we would be paying $75/hour court fees (or with the 50% discount mentioned above, 50% of the time we'd be paying $32.50 so average cost for non member would be $53.75/hour.)

The difference between the average member and non-member prices of is what the $2000+ membership needs to make up for if it is to be a good deal. That difference is $21.25 and to reach $2012.50 we need to book and play at least 100 hours of tennis over the course of a year which means you and a family member have got to commit to playing tennis on average one hour every 3 days throughout the year! Wow, quite a commitment.

OK, so let's take our costs again, 100 hours of tennis as a member will cost a family of five, applying all RI discounts, $2012.50 in membership and initiation fees, and an average of about $3250.00 in court time fees for the 100 hour minimum needed to justify the membership, so that's $5262.50 But we still haven't had any lesson to actually learn how to play the game and those cost run between $44 and $55/hour.

So since we're already quite a bit in the hole here, we're going with the cheaper ($44/hr) teacher, at least until we get better. Unfortunately, that's going to take a while because even at just 10 lessons each (a lesson every other time we each play) is $2200 of tennis lessons and does not include the babysitting time for when mom and dad want to play alone. So we're up to $7462.50, which if you divide it up again to be per hour again it comes to almost $75/hour of play and you've got to do it for 100 hours minimum or else you're "losing" money. So, how is this tennis club a good deal for the island?

I'm mostly saddened (and frankly shocked), that the supporter of the club tries to justify it's existence by pretending that somehow the club contributes in anyway to Residents of the Island (. Unless I am missing something here, this club offers little or nothing to anyone living on Roosevelt Island as far as I can tell and believe you me I've tried to figure this out for the last 7 years that I've lived here. Free lessons? Free court time? Where when and how???

Can someone help me out here - who are the VAST AMOUNT of Island Residents that Ms. Mincheff mentions? ("The Racquet Club provides free instruction and play to a vast amount of community residents") Where are they? Who are they? And how can I get some of that??

ROOSEVELT ISLANDER said...

9:50 PM - WOW, thanks for the very thorough analysis. I will be doing a follow up post on the tennis club shortly and this is very helpful.

Have you used the outdoor courts by the Octagon? I have and they are pretty good and an adult season pass is $100. A much better deal than the tennis club.