Hoping for a net return

Atlantic Beach village eyes tennis center renovation


The volley of ideas that Atlantic Beach and state officials have batted back and forth in recent years about repairing the tennis center and creating a village annex may be resolved after a feasibility study is completed, likely this summer, according to Catie Marshall of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

Nearly five years after Hurricane Sandy, the tennis center, which is about 200-feet from the Atlantic Ocean, is targeted for a $2 million overhaul which would include retrofitting the village-owned, three-acre site as a place to provide post-emergency assistance for residents and post-disaster operations as a supplemental space to Village Hall. Community members could receive supplies and information at the village annex.

A second component of the project focuses on flood mitigation. Potentially up to six of the 13 Har-Tru clay tennis courts could be replaced with stormwater drainage improvements including a passive park with material that would allow water to pass through to reduce flood risk, or stormwater recharge and retention structures could be built.

The project is part of the federally funded and state administered NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program is over, which was established in 2013 to coordinate statewide recovery efforts after Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee and is overseen by the GOSR.

“Following this phase, the project scope will [be] solidified based on the design options and cost estimates developed during the feasibility study, and this scope will be advanced to full design and construction,” Marshall said.

Other potential additions to the proposed village annex include installing a permanent backup generator and moving all the plumbing, heating and air conditioning and electrical equipment out of the basement and filling it in an effort to protect against potential water damage. Marshall said that “other sites and green infrastructure intervention opportunities may be explored during the feasibility study.”

Atlantic Beach Mayor George Pappas stressed that plans are not set, and village officials have been meeting with state representatives once a month to advance to this stage. “There are so many ideas, I wouldn’t speculate without speaking to residents and getting their input,” he said, adding that eliminating a half dozen courts would be the maximum. Pappas said that the work would probably be done during the fall and winter.

Originally opened in 1962, the facility was a private business operating as a Sportime, when it was purchased by Atlantic Beach for $496,000 in 1981. The village removed the bubble structures that the residents disliked. The center currently runs programs for adults and children from mid-May to mid-September, seven days a week. The pro shop is now closed.

According to local lore, the tennis center hosted the women’s pre-qualifier for the U.S. Open when it was played at Forest Hills. That story could not be confirmed, but village Trustee Andrew Rubin did remember when the tennis players used the grass courts at the Rockaway Hunting Club in Lawrence, and one night he watched sports radio personality Chris “Mad Dog” Russo play tennis there. Forest Hills’ courts were grass.

“I was one of the original employees of the tennis center and also was a tennis member,” said Rubin, adding that he worked on the grounds crew. “I am very excited,” he said about the plans, “but unfortunately, New York state is not working fast enough.”

Danae Muddiman shares her village board colleague’s sentiment. “We would like to see some action from NY Rising,” she said. “We want to bring it up to date. Possibly add basketball courts.”

Have an opinion about the Atlantic Beach Tennis Center? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.