More than 500 people have signed a petition opposing changes to the fees associated with University Park’s tennis courts and parks.
On April 10, the Parks Board recommended charging a new $1,000 annual fee to tennis instructors and personal trainers who conduct clinics and boot camps in the city’s parks. In addition, instructors would have to pay fees for half-day ($100), full-day ($200), and weeklong ($800) clinics. They would also be required to submit a roster one week prior to the clinic, proving that 51 percent of the participants live in University Park.
“The public wasn’t aware that the Parks Board had voted on this,” said Nicole Richter, who started the online “Keep Our Parks Awesome” petition that had 520 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. “It doesn’t seem like it’s the right answer.”
Richter’s petition says the proposal would increase residents’ annual permit fees for tennis courts by 100 percent. But a document provided by city spokesman Steve Mace shows that there would be no change in the individual permit fee of $40. The fees for senior and youth permits would increase from $7.50 to $10. The document does not mention the existing family fee of $80.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal on Tuesday.
“Nothing is in stone yet, certainly,” Mace said. “Should the public have opinions, they are welcome to attend the May 7 meeting.”
Richter, who has been using the courts with her children for a year, feels that the fees are too high, and will drive instructors out of the Park Cities. The residents, then, would travel to Dallas parks for lessons and boot camps.
“A couple of residents have complained that it’s hard to get a court with the reservation system, but other things can be done,” Richter said.
But from the city’s standpoint, the adaptations were drafted with residents in mind.
“It’s not designed to discontinue use by these individuals, but regulate their impact on others,” Mace said. “It’s not uncommon for a tennis instructor to lock up a number of the courts, making it difficult for residents to drop by and have a game.”
He predicts that the issue will be talked about in a work session just prior to the 5 o’clock council meeting, and then presented as a discussion item before the council.
“That’s the value of this, is that staff wants input from the council,” Mace said. “There’s ample time for public comment.”