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Feb 28, 2012 3:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Town Recieves Two Bids To Operate Amagansett Tennis Courts

Mar 19, 2012 2:26 PM

East Hampton Town officials will soon be vetting two proposals by private businesses to manage the town-owned tennis courts on Abrahams Path in Amagansett.

Scott Rubenstein, the managing member of East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club, LLC and Claude Okin, the owner of Sportime Amagansett, were the only two to submit proposals sometime last week, according to Councilwoman Theresa Quigley.

Their bids came in response to a town request for proposals to renovate and operate the four tennis courts, which have fallen into disrepair. The RFP was issued by the town on January 19, according to Jeanne Carroza, the town’s purchasing agent. She declined to provide copies of the proposals on Monday, noting that the Town Board had not yet reviewed them, but both Mr. Rubenstein and Mr. Okin gave some details about their pitches in interviews this week.

Private sector management of town assets is not a new theme in Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s administration. He and Ms. Quigley have also called for the hiring of a private company run the town’s scavenger waste plant. But lately, that kind of thinking has touched a sore spot among some constituents, who are concerned that such a philosophy could rule out use of town property by residents.

“They’re selling everything,” said Elaine Jones, an Amagansett resident and chairwoman of the East Hampton Independence Party, who is opposed to the idea. She said the courts, known as the Terry King courts, were always meant to be town-operated and designed to be free for the children in the community.

The tennis courts wouldn’t be the first privately managed town asset in the area. Just across the street, Mr. Okin runs the Sportime Multi-sport Arena, which used to be the town hockey rink known as the Terry King Recreational Center. Mr. Okin was given a 15-year contract to upgrade and operate the rink last January after town officials decided that it was expensive to run. Ms. Quigley provided figures from Budget Officer Len Bernard stating the facility used to cost the town about $84,720 a year to maintain.

Now, Mr. Okin is paying the town a fee of about $35,000 a year for his company, Sportime, to run the facility.

In his proposal to the town, Mr. Okin is looking to convert the outdoor tennis courts into indoor courts—a renovation that could cost somewhere between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, he said. In exchange for that investment, he said he’d be seeking a five-year extension on the contract with the town on the arena, to make it a 20-year contract. Over the life of the contract, he expects to pay the town a total $1.6 million in annual licensing fees to use both the tennis courts and arena.

The arena is currently generating $300,000 in revenues, Mr. Okin said, adding that he expects it will eventually generate $500,000. He said the four additional tennis courts, if converted into indoor courts, could generate an estimated $500,000 per year on their own. Mr. Okin also plans to offer discounted rates for town residents to use the courts.

For his part, Mr. Rubenstein said he would like to see the town continue to operate and maintain the courts—not an outside business. He said he’s concerned that the town is rushing into privatizing the courts.

“I think as someone who’s lived in East Hampton for 43 years and pays taxes here and owns some property, my family is here … I would tell you I think it should be left alone and kept public, or that we should look into it.”

At the same time, Mr. Rubenstein said it would be “foolish” from a business standpoint for him not to submit a proposal. He stressed, though, that he would keep the courts as outdoor facilities. His proposal includes a $10,000 annual fee he would pay the town for use of the courts. He would also offer discounted rates for residents, who would be able to use the courts during weekends.

One of Mr. Rubenstein’s arguments is that handing over the facility to a private enterprise like Mr. Okin’s could ultimately rule out town residents, turning a public-private partnership into a private business. Mr. 
Rubenstein said he’s wondering if there’s even a need for more tennis courts, noting there are about 15 public tennis courts in town.

“Maybe at this point in East Hampton’s recreational world, maybe tennis courts aren’t the best thing there. Maybe they should really open it up and take the courts out and make it volleyball courts or basketball courts,” he said.

But Mr. Okin countered that upgrading the dilapidated courts would actually enhance and encourage use among the community.

“Those tennis courts have barely been playable for tennis players for years,” Mr. Okin said. “Actually, my view that renovating them, making them brand new, would open up a town resource to residents, not shut them down.”

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these courts are the last town owned, and fully public courts in the east hampton/springs area. there are many a bonac athlete and tennis player that started playing with their parent on these courts. once they go into private hands the ease of accessibly and monetary constrictions it will cause will hamper the fostering of the sport of tennis among east hampton's youth.

instead of the 2 clubs competing to purchasing the courts, why don't they put on a fundraiser(s) to raise partial ...more
By tito (56), e hampton on Mar 1, 12 3:26 PM
Cost Town $82K
His Revenues are $300K. So he's making $200K?
Oh, the town doesn't need that?
And he's predicting $500K. So he's on target to make at least $400K Per Year? WOW! Wish I got that contract.
And he wants a five year extension. Yeah, dam right he does. So would you! Oh, and by the way, every hockey facility I know of here on the Island is AT LEAST $80K per year to rent.
By robv (2), North Sea on Mar 4, 12 8:25 PM
From what I read I believe East Hampton Indoor Tennis is suggesting it remain public. Why do we need indoor courts there? It's crazy. I want to enjoy the sunshine while I play. Sportime wants to grab the courts and the ball field for its summer camp. Do you know they advertise the indoor hockey building as theirs exclusively in promotional literature? Try to use it during summer hours. What a ripoff for taxpayers.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Mar 2, 12 9:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
By tplus85 (1), East Hampton on Mar 2, 12 5:29 PM
Why would they build on their land, when they can rent for dirt cheap, and pay no taxes? On their commercial property, they would be taxed accordingly. On the town's land, nothing.
By robv (2), North Sea on Mar 4, 12 8:29 PM
Aometimes these articles are SOOO lacking on facts. What does it cost to run these particular courts now? And what would it cost to get them up to par? Why is someone (who presumably knows) saying there are 16 public courts in EH (I believe there are two courts in Amagansett by the school, no?) and someone else is saying "these are the last town-owned"? I tend not to believe tito and, as usual, harbor is bitter about everything - so glad the "skate rink" isn't on my dime anymore.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 2, 12 6:33 PM
Put aside your knee-jerk support of every Wilkie/Quigley move and explain this.. Sportime has a non-exclusive license for the indoor hockey rink yet advertises in its camp brochure that it has exclusive use of the arena. What makes you think Sportime won't do the same if it wins the tennis courts? Taxpayers are still paying tens of thousands of dollars in bond financing costs to support the indoor facility and we cant even use it? Remember Sportime is renting the indoor facility for 1000/month ...more
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Mar 4, 12 11:24 PM
i think i did make a mistake on the number of public cts in town. 2 in springs,8 in montauk,2 in amagansett at the youth park, 3 at herrick park,8 at the high school and these 4. we estimate it would cost about 170,000 to repave the basketball ct and the four tennis cts. the rink is still on our dime and should not be used exclusively by a private camp for 9 weeks in the summer,monday -friday all day.i dont think this was the spirit of the lease with the town. if this is the new deal the town should ...more
By ehit2000@aol.com (2), on Mar 3, 12 11:01 AM
There are public courts at Herrick field and courts at the High School (which is where our young tennis players learned the sport over the last 20 years). There are also town courts in Springs and town courts in Montauk behind the Police station. Does Tito even live around here? Those courts behind the softball field have not be playable since Schneiderman was supervisor. McGintee let them fall into unsafe disrepair. At least this is a plan to make them a useable asset. Since apparently no one ...more
By factsandtruth (42), East Hampton on Mar 3, 12 11:07 AM
I believe tito before I believe any of you and it doesn't matter. Those courts and basketball court was to be used by the local people and should remain. I supported Sportstime taking over the hockey rink but the courts are for our kids. This town board is selling everything if it needs to be fixed. The people can raise the money if they have to. Wilinson has had going on three years to repair things and he still blames McGintee for everything. That is getting old.
Elaine Jones
By housewife (79), east hampton on Mar 3, 12 11:39 AM
this is what makes this a great country. we can differ on our opinions.who is tito? if you mean tplus 85 thats my wife holly, i logged onto her account.and signed my name at the end. i am not sure of the point of your question about her residence,but if it matters her father was born at southampton hospital. and all of us graduated from east hampton high? do our views carry more weight now.
By ehit2000@aol.com (2), on Mar 3, 12 11:55 AM
well, nicely said everyone.

2 courts in amagansett by the school are private.
2 courts at the YOUTH park, property once owned by sporttime and swapped with the town, are only for youth and not for adults to play on with out kids.
3 courts at the springs school are managed by the school along with the high school courts
accabonac courts are owned by the town but fully in disrepair
herrick park courts are village run......................which leave abrahams park as the last ...more
By tito (56), e hampton on Mar 3, 12 1:11 PM
I USED to play a lot of tennis. I played for EH high school and in college at a division three school. The best facilities out here are privately run. EHIT tennis and Sportime have great affordable programs for kids and if you want FREE kids can play at the youth center. Most of the public courts, except the high school, are in pitiful shape. The pavement is not level, there are cracks in the pavement, the nets arent set to regulation, and there are no dividers between courts. I am pretty sure ...more
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 5, 12 9:39 AM
Thanks for the info, tito. So who owns the courts in AmagansettIt? Can town people go to the Village courts? Seems to me, now that (maybe) some of the facts are out - our "kids" have places to play - the schools, the YOUTH park, which may alleviate if not dispell Elaine's concerns about the "kids" having a place to go - and adults sem to have places to play, and if not for free ??? So? I agree with Elaine that "The people can raise the money if they have to". Well, maybe they have to, or these ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 3, 12 2:56 PM
Insanity. Divesting the town of public assets to enrich for-profit corporations may make sense to corporatists like Wilkinson and Quigley but not to any other rational citizen.

Wilkinson is striving to leave his corporate mark on East Hampton Town government long after he has gone to his final reward. As his civic authority nears its end, his pace has increased. Sewage treatment? Sure, give it to a corporation. What's the worst that could happen, that we would be held hostage by unaccountable ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 3, 12 7:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please give me an example where the public sector is more cost effective than the private sector. In regards to the tennis with the exception of the youth park EH is one of the few towns that charges you to play. Abrahams park tennis and basketball courts are over run with illegals playing soccer. I see no problem with cleaning it up.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 4, 12 10:51 PM
Yawn. Please stop your psychobabble HHS and just post where you pay your taxes and talk about your own elected officials. Please.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 3, 12 8:38 PM
to Board Watcher:

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 4, 12 8:55 AM
RES-2010-1033: "Town Board believes that the members of Sportime, Inc., possess special and unique abilities with regard to the operation of the facility and that retaining them to operate the facility will be in the best interests of the Town." ... "Town Supervisor is hereby authorized to enter into an agreement with Sportime, Inc., for the operation of the Terry King Park Recreational Building, from January 1, 2011 through August 31, 2027 at no costs to the Town." - SPORTIME Amagansett's Indoor ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Mar 5, 12 8:59 AM
The skating rink catastrophe - mismanaged, built over budget, under-utlized and a great deal for a personal friend of former Board Members when it was run by the Town, never should have been built with public funds in the first place. At least the contract with Sporttime went out to bid. A little history may be lacking in some of these comments. The Town never should have bought Poxobogue with CPF funds, either. Good for this Board for attempting to fix the multiple messes inherited over the ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 5, 12 10:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
Egregious elitist cant. Public facilities cost money for upkeep. If the public pays for the upkeep, poorer residents are enabled to use facilities that they otherwise could not afford. If we charge money for the facilities, they won't cost us any tax dollars but many residents (especially children) will be unable to enjoy them.

Perhaps there is merit to the argument that we should never have purchased these facilities. However, having done so, it is both incompetent and mean to contemplate ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 5, 12 11:57 AM
"Elitist"? "If the public pays for the upkeep, poorer residents are enabled to use facilities that they otherwise could not afford." Blah, blah, blather. I AM a "poorer" resident HHS, who pays school taxes so kids can learn how to play tennis and have other (than these, I mean) public courts to go to, as Mr. Rubenstein pointed out. I also wholeheartedly applaud his idea for a fundraiser to repair courts...thank you! Subsidize golfers, restaurants, ice skaters and/or tennis players is not the ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 5, 12 12:34 PM
Two corrections, one for each side: 1) It was a Request for Proposals, not a bid process, that created the current arrangement (See Resolution 2010-784, "Town Attorney's office is hereby authorized and directed to negotiate an operating agreement with Sportime for the operation of the recreation building at the Terry King Park, subject to further review and approval of this Board."); and, 2) Town of East Hampton IS a corporation, albeit, a Municipal corporation. David Buda
By davbud (127), east hampton on Mar 5, 12 5:44 PM
There is nothing wrong with privatization of the public benefits on a meaningful way. But how do we benefit when Sportime uses the indoor facility exclusively for its summer camp in violation of the licensing agreement? What makes one think the same won't happen with the tennis courts? If privatization is the path then the town should get market value for the resource. That clearly isn't the case here. Sportime wants to put an indoor faciility on public property rather than at their existing tennis ...more
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Mar 5, 12 6:17 PM
BW, to answer your question with a little easy fact finding, the Amagansett courts on main street are owned and run by the AVIS. The land was donated to that group for the use for tennis. You have to pay for them and there is regulations by the AVIS for how can use them.
No that I have found the facts can you please help me with these question....I think we will all benefit with the answers

1. Has the town found out how much the resurfacing of the court will cost
2. How much ...more
By tito (56), e hampton on Mar 5, 12 6:32 PM
Now you're talking tito! I agree with you and wish I did have the answers. I especially like #4. To answer that question perhaps we need to ask another question: Why did the Town have a $30 MILLION dollar deficit in 2010? And where are we now?

How much was taken in from fees for the courts over the years, and how much did it cost to run them? I hope all 5 members of the Town Board have those numbers. Truly. We shall see.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 6, 12 4:28 PM
If the Town should not be in the "tennis court business", should it be in the "beach business"? Just how high a bar is Wilkinson prepared to raise? Is there ANY aspect of Town ambiance on which he would refrain from putting a price tag?

Nothing would please him more than to turn the Town Board into an accounting office for LLCs, a feat that would validate his power and career by affording him the ultimate corporate success that eluded him at Disney. Residents, however, may be unhappy ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 6, 12 5:52 PM
Maybe we should go back to the MCGintee mantra which is spend spend spend and then crash and burn
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 22, 12 8:21 AM