Gale Brewer, the Upper West Side City Council Member and candidate for Manhattan Borough President, recently called the Parks Department out on a fee increase that has failed to bring in additional revenue for the city while also alienating city residents who cannot pay the higher rates.
The Parks Department raised fees for seasonal and single-pay tennis permits, and as a result, membership has fallen.
"The Independent Budget Office found that the number of permits sold for tennis and memberships to the city's recreational centers has fallen following the price increase," Brewer wrote in a letter to Parks Commissioner Veronica White. "Seasonal tennis permits have fallen 43 percent and single-play permits have fallen 46 percent. Likewise, membership at the recreational centers has fallen 52 percent. Overall, revenue fell over $4 million short of the Department's 2012 projections. As an aside, tennis players in some of the smaller parks allegedly cannot purchase a day pass to play tennis at the courts due to the lack of an in-person payment option. Thus, people show up to play and are kicked off the courts by Parks staff, or else they don't show up at all. Parks should pursue technology to allow day passes to be purchased at all courts, or to update a seasonal pass instantly."
Brewer also cited a Department of Health report that revealed an increase in obesity in the five boroughs over the past year, and suggested that access to Parks Department recreation centers at lower costs could help alleviate this public health problem.
"Clearly, the current fees are not striking the proper balance of cost and attendance, and must be reduced in order to encourage the use of our city athletic facilities, and improve city revenue and public health," Brewer said.