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Tennis management deal at Fowler Park revisited
County commission to hold hearing Dec. 4
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Forsyth County News

SOUTH FORSYTH — Forsyth County plans to review the tennis arrangement at Fowler Park during a public hearing Dec. 4 before deciding whether to alter or renew it.

There was a bit of controversy last year when the county commission approved a contract with a private firm, Tennessee-based Annacone Tennis, to run the Fowler Park Tennis Complex.

“If the fees are right and people see the value, the complaints should stop,” said Commissioner Jim Boff. “But if for whatever reason they don’t see the value or the fees are wrong, then we’re not doing the right thing.”

During the commission’s work session Wednesday, Parks Director Jim Pryor said the arrangement at Fowler Park was aimed at offering a higher level of tennis.

“We have tennis courts all over the county in different parks, and this is kind of a unique situation at Fowler Park in that we have a private company operating it versus us doing it through our normal program realm and using an independent contractor,” he explained.

If the agreement is renewed, there likely will be a change in pricing for members, as well as an option for members to join for less than a year.

Jim Brenan, parks program manager, said the setup has evolved from an annual membership fee.

“Now, they’ve gone to a pass system,” he said. “… They’re trying to make where if you say I don’t want to pay $200, but I would like to play some tennis this fall, you can still become a member.”

One reason that prices are likely to rise is that members were getting more than their original agreement with Annacone.

“[They] hired a director of tennis … [who] was from a country club,” Brennan said. “Coming from a country club setting, the way it was explained to me, is that if you do not do what the country club member wants you to do, then you’re not going to be an employee there very long.”

While some residents were angry about having to pay to use courts built with their tax dollars, the park ended up bringing in more than $31,000 for the county.

“It is kind of unique,” Pryor said. “We’ve done it for a year and tried it out. It is very beneficial revenue-wise for us.

“It does offer a service above the level that we normally would operate recreationally in our tennis programs. I know it comes with some controversy, but it does generate some revenue.”