The Zephyrhills City Council has selected a firm to run the city’s proposed tennis complex, the latest step in guiding the ambitious project forward.
During a May 22 meeting, council members unanimously agreed to enter negotiations with Pennsylvania-based firm Tennis P.R.O. LLC, to operate and manage the proposed tennis facility.
Construction could begin by year’s end.
The council also considered Tennis Management Partners and Net Results, before making its choice.
Tennis P.R.O. is owned by Pascal Collard, the director of tennis at Saddlebrook Tennis Academy in Wesley Chapel from 2003 to 2006. He currently serves as the tennis director at The Merion Cricket Club, a private club in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Once finalized, the public-private partnership agreement will first call for Tennis P.R.O. to offer input to the facility’s final engineered site design and architectural plans.
Elsewhere, the firm will be responsible for local tennis operations, and facilitating other elements such as membership and fundraising.
City Manager Steve Spina said the arrangement mirrors the one Zephyrhills has with the East Pasco Family YMCA, in which the city owns the building property, but outsources programming and facility management.
Councilman Lance Smith was enthusiastic about the concept.
“Having a professional firm that knows what they’re doing and can operate it properly is the way to go, in my mind,” Smith said.
The planned Zephyrhills Tennis Center will be located on 4.7 acres of donated land at The District at Abbott’s Square, a new real estate development situated north of Dean Dairy Road and west of Simons Road.
Renderings unveiled in November show the estimated $2.19 million project includes 10 courts — of which eight are clay and two are hard surface. Plans also show three mini-courts and one exhibition court, built to U.S Tennis Association (USTA) professional standards.
The complex also is expected to feature a pro shop, a multifunctional community room, and two office spaces.
Recreation impact fees from The District at Abbott’s Square and other developments will be used to finance most of the the facility’s construction costs, city officials say.
But, additional frills — such as a clubhouse and observation deck — would likely need to be financed by the city and other funding sources, including, USTA grants, Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) grants, Penny for Pasco, and partnerships with Pasco County Parks and Recreation, and Pasco County Tourism.
Once operational, memberships will be required to access the facility.
However, Zephyrhills residents will get a price break.
Officials believe the tennis center could become a national draw for college and USTA-sanctioned events.
Meantime, the facility is expected to be named the Sarah Vande Berg Memorial Tennis Center, after the former Zephyrhills High School district champion who became a scholarship player on the University of South Carolina Upstate women’s tennis team.
Vande Berg, the daughter of the Zephyrhills planning director Todd Vande Berg, died in an automobile accident at the age of 21 in October 2015.
Earlier this month, the council voted unanimously to send the proposed tennis center name to a committee made up of city staffers who will vote on an official recommendation to the council, which is standard procedure under a city resolution that governs the naming of city facilities.
In other action, Zephyrhills City Hall will permanently close June 9, to make way for construction of a new city hall complex, at 5335 Eighth St. The temporary quarters will be housed at 5344 Ninth St.
Beginning June 12, city council meetings will be at the Zephyrhills Public Library, 5347 Eighth St., for approximately one year.
Board meetings, including airport authority and planning commission, will also be at the library, during that period.
Published May 31, 2017