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Mangano pitches new Eisenhower Park tennis facility

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (March 19, 2012)

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (March 19, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is pitching a plan for a privately funded and operated indoor tennis facility at Eisenhower Park.

The county released a request for proposals earlier this month for developers to construct a public tennis building on vacant land behind the existing 16 outdoor tennis courts.

Deputy County Executive Rob Walker said the tennis center could accommodate between eight and 12 indoor courts, along with spectator seating for public events. The new facility would be open year-round and could serve youth leagues, local schools and universities, and area residents, he said.

"We are looking to make the park a destination point, not just for Nassau County residents, but for residents out of state," Walker said.

Walker called the project part of an effort to transform Eisenhower Park, and the larger Nassau Hub area, into a locale for sports and entertainment.

But some Nassau Democrats questioned whether the administration is ceding too much of the 930-acre park to business interests.

"Mangano says he is taking back the parks," said Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick). "Apparently he is taking the parks from residents and giving them to private interests. But we will review this objectively and make sure taxpayers' interests and park usage is protected."

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), whose 13th Legislative District includes Eisenhower Park, called it "premature to comment on a request for proposals. Obviously, we would need to see the specific plans offered for our approval, and weigh the merits accordingly."

Walker said he hopes to negotiate a rental arrangement with tennis center operators. Walker noted an arrangement at a $15 million, privately funded sports and recreation facility near Eisenhower's Aquatic Center in which operators will pay Nassau $100,000 annually in rent, with the charge escalating annually until it reaches $180,000. The county broke ground on the project in January.

"It's a private investment that will generate revenue for the county," Walker said of the planned tennis facility.

Walker said a handful of developers have expressed interest in the project. Bids must be received by Thursday.

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