Great Neck Park District talks for tennis center purchase stalled

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Negotiations to purchase the Kings Point Tennis Center on Steamboat Road and convert it into an indoor recreational facility have stalled, Great Neck Park District officials said Monday.
At a Nov. 2 meeting, officials said the park district was in talks with the owner of the approximately 13,855-square-foot property for a “purchase option contract,” meaning the park district would have the sole right to purchase the property if it makes a down payment.
“Unfortunately at this point, we’ve not come to terms on the option itself,” park district Commissioner Robert Lincoln said. “Those terms are important because we need to have confidence that we have a reasonable opportunity to get back our investment in the option if we decide not to exercise it.”
Lincoln said the district would need to pay $200,000 if it signs  an option agreement and then make another $200,000 payment 90 days later to give it  a one-year period to complete the purchase.
“The board is carefully considering ways to recoup the investment of the option itself in the event they weren’t to go forward,” said Chris Prior, counsel to the Board of Commissioners. “There are issues that have cropped up in that discussion.”
Park district Superintendent Jason Marra said at the Nov. 2 meeting that the proposed purchase of the property and renovations of the building would cost  $5 million to $7 million. The facility could be used to promote health and wellness for residents of all ages, he said.
Although negotiations are currently on hold, Lincoln said, it gives the park district extra time to assess the needs of the community and explore alternatives.
“We are not in a position to enter into an option relevant to that particular property. It doesn’t mean the deal is dead. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” he said. “However, until all the details are worked out, it would be totally inappropriate, not necessarily illegal, but certainly inappropriate to enter into something that could put taxpayer money at risk.”
“With these talks being stalled, it might be a good thing because it gives us the time to figure out what everybody really wants,” Lincoln added.
Marra said the park district would issue a 20-year bond, at a 2.2 percent interest rate, to pay for the project. He estimated that the increase in taxes for park district residents would be  $26 to $36 per household.
Resident Sam Yellis said he was in favor of an indoor recreational center, but didn’t feel that the location of the Kings Point Tennis Center was appropriate. He said park district officials should “not feel guilty” about increasing taxes to construct a new facility elsewhere.
Other residents at the meeting expressed interest in the district opening an indoor pool for the community.
Lincoln said that in terms of the tennis facility, if the district were to renovate it into an indoor pool, it could not offer any other types of activities. Initial ideas called for the tennis center to be used as a multipurpose facility for residents of all ages.
Marra said he and the board has discussed sending a “community needs assessment” to the community, which would partly address the potential purchase of an indoor recreational facility.
He said that the survey, which would be mailed to all residents, would be essential not just to planning for a recreational facility, but for planning the next five to 10 years at the park district.
Lincoln said that if negotiations resume to purchase the Kings Point Tennis Center, the board would hold another public meeting to update the community on what has been going on and offer the opportunity for more resident input.

By Joe Nikic

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