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Compromise aimed at settling tennis tiff
County creates free play Friday at Fowler
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners hope “free play Friday” at the Fowler Park Tennis Complex will be a positive change to its recently signed contract with a management firm.

Amid resident complaints about having to pay to play, the commission earlier this month discussed possibly ending the contract with Annacone Tennis Management or asking the firm to return two courts to the county’s control.

In response, Annacone offered to waive the fees on Fridays, which is $2.50 per person per hour for non-members during operating hours the rest of the week.

Michael Greene, director of the Fowler program, said opening up two courts all the time would really “devalue” membership, which charges a flat annual rate for open play and other benefits.

The group has sold several memberships, he said, and many have been offered at a discounted rate.

The senior membership is $100 annually, Greene said, but the current deal is $80 for the rest of this year and next.

Commissioners agreed that the fee seemed reasonable, and “free play Friday” and changing hours to free up more open use seemed to be a good compromise.

The commission can terminate the contract with notice at the end of each year, but it appears that it will let the arrangement continue at least another year with the tweaks made Tuesday in a 4-0 vote.

The management group moved into Fowler Park in September, after commissioners approved a three-year contract with annual renewals.

The county receives a portion of fees, rent and utilities from the management group, as well as a higher level of service at the tennis complex, officials have said.

However, residents expressed concerns that they paid taxes to build the park and shouldn’t be charged a fee to play, especially from a private business.

The other parks in the county with tennis complexes remain under the previous arrangement of free play on a first-come basis, unless leagues or lessons are using the facilities.