Marco Island Racquet Center players ask city to serve up new court surface

— As many as two dozen members of the City of Marco Island Racquet Center showed up to urge council members to re-surface two clay courts that have been closed before making other scheduled court changes.

City Manager Jim Riviere recently closed courts three and four after several years of complaints by players who have been dissatisfied with an unpopular, carpet-based clay surface that was installed several years ago by the previous club management in an effort to save water.

Addressing council, member Judith Miller stated that several players have suffered sprained ankles and other injuries as a result of playing on the new surface. Members say their complaints were ignored and a majority of players stopped using the two courts.

Despite six remaining courts available to players, club officials say they’ve lost members because of the lack of quality clay courts, which is a softer, gentler and more challenging surface under normal circumstances. Players even held a fundraiser to pay for re-surfacing the court, which raised $4,000. The estimated cost of improving the two clay courts at the city-owned racquet center is $17,000, a cost club members want the city to absorb.

Instead, city officials have decided to make improvements to two different courts, to the dismay of members, who say re-surfacing courts three and four should be a priority because it will bring back players who have left the club and help attract more tournaments to Marco Island.

According to Riviere, the club has lost as much as $70,000 over the last two years and that there is no money in the current budget to resurface the additional courts. Councilmembers instructed Riviere to consider the issue for next year’s budget and explore all possible options.

“The tennis folks are at the head of the line, which isn’t a bad place to be,” Riviere commented.

Council chairman Jerry Gibson told players that the city is required to determine its annual budget during the summer months, but tries to look at issues as early as possible. He stated that the city will be in communication with club members to seek their input.

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Comments » 9

RayPray writes:

Most people don't understand that clay courts are less athletic surfaces than plumbing systems.

Several of these courts are too risky to use.

Here is a good solution.

The costly if revered Marco Historical Museum is mostly empty.

Why can't this attractive structure be converted into one housing at least two indoor tennis courts.

It would be great if our ever athletic master, DOCTOR Riviera, could get this done before the impending rain season....

happy6 writes:

again...you gotta' be kidding...have the tennis players take up a collection and pay for whatever they want...i'd like lower water bills...why don't we just say...ask for whatever you want..we'll do it! our council is inept...but issler,arceri,lazzarus et al put them in...i have an idea.let's get the county to sell gas at caxambas at a fair price...as opposed to $5/gallon/pump your own/ to dock lines/and grumpy workers.

marcofriend writes:

The City says this is an "Enterprise" that pays for itself. Yet it constantly shows losing $60,000 to $70,000 per year. Do to it what you are going to do to the people that buy water and use the sewer facility.... just raise prices skyhigh and charge the people that use the facility.

ajm3s writes:

in response to marcofriend:

The City says this is an "Enterprise" that pays for itself. Yet it constantly shows losing $60,000 to $70,000 per year. Do to it what you are going to do to the people that buy water and use the sewer facility.... just raise prices skyhigh and charge the people that use the facility.

That may explain the level of debt on this island. The actual revenues do not meet the level of support required for "essential" services.

Solution: Reduce support of non-essential services that are deemed "essential, i.e. maintenance of 8 tennis courts for the enjoyment by an estimated 500 club users with existing member and usage fees. Or simply raise the fees to the racquet club. Unless, subsidizing the use of eight tennis courts will continue into the future. Are the tennis courts at Tommie Barfield considered for school use only?

Is this too simplistic and approach? Bear in mind, the costs for maintenance do not go away regardless of how much to reduce staffing.

So is the current closing of two courts indicative of a city that cannot afford the size of the current facility. Did they over build to meet a "world class" facility. Perhaps a smaller one is more realistic? Or perhaps, the ultra-rich with a penchant for the best could donate monies for this cause. Unless of course the members of the club see it differently, but they did lament that a recent member initiated fund raiser could not meet the costs considering the injuries sustained.

Since safety is an issue, the city was correct in condemning two courts until repairs can be funded. And should remain so unless, the members can do something about it while the city prioritizes its efforts for "essential" services.

In America, 6 clay tennis courts would be considered extravagant in 99% of the cities and towns in this country, but on Marco Island it is termed as an essential park service. Really?

RayPray writes:

"Are the tennis courts at Tommie Barfield considered for school use only?"

Racquet Club has first call on these for its leagues.

"Or simply raise the fees to the racquet club."

Racquet Club soft courts were all built lousy. Even the better ones are bad and risky.

Whereas, YMCA soft courts are best in the county. This was because when this system was planned, Y player-volunteers spent a year or so studying various court manufacturers to settle on best system.

Advantage to Racquet Club membership is low cost and good staff.

If boost fees there to Cambier Park level, will lose many players to the Y, putting this facility and City further in the $ hole.

Why have soft courts at all?

You don't have them up North, in general.

Mostly they are a status symbol for Country Club life.

Best solution for the Racquet Club and city would be to replace all clay courts with hard courts, requiring little upkeep, and keep the membership fee reasonable.

RayPray writes:

At $300- annual membership is a bargain for the county.

Staff is very good.

If want to travel, 8 courts at East Naples Community Park are usually empty and free.

Staff at YMCA now contracted out to Naples Y group.

Probably you are right and that corner should be sold off to some private developer, to turn into a medical building or some assisted care facility for the many frail and senile on the island....

ajm3s writes:

in response to RayPray:

"Are the tennis courts at Tommie Barfield considered for school use only?"

Racquet Club has first call on these for its leagues.

"Or simply raise the fees to the racquet club."

Racquet Club soft courts were all built lousy. Even the better ones are bad and risky.

Whereas, YMCA soft courts are best in the county. This was because when this system was planned, Y player-volunteers spent a year or so studying various court manufacturers to settle on best system.

Advantage to Racquet Club membership is low cost and good staff.

If boost fees there to Cambier Park level, will lose many players to the Y, putting this facility and City further in the $ hole.

Why have soft courts at all?

You don't have them up North, in general.

Mostly they are a status symbol for Country Club life.

Best solution for the Racquet Club and city would be to replace all clay courts with hard courts, requiring little upkeep, and keep the membership fee reasonable.

Excellent!

And I agree if status symbol is what is driving all this crap, then I would appear as a non-conformist if I arrived in my 2001 Ford F250 with body rot and wooden Bancroft racket.

As I did 40 years ago, in my rotted out 1959 pickup truck for varsity trials in 1971. Crazy as it seems, I made the team, to the chagrin of some that tried out with experience gained through private memberships in outlying suburbs.

And for me (a city kid), I only picked it up because I just hated playing baseball all the time. So one afternoon, this older kid (who I did not realize was the captain of the HS team) started volleying and teaching me throughout the preceding summer. Always on my neighborhood (deplorable by Marco Island standards) public tennis court with another close friend of mine, who also made the team.

So when I hear the members lament that the city is not maintaining the courts or repairing the wrong ones, I ask how much is the public to provide in terms of tennis courts. Perhaps, we do not have enough?

If members want "world class" courts, then I suggest members buck up and pay up. Public courts were always hard courts for low maintenance and cost of installation, except in a few rare instances. The only public clay courts were available in a large metropolitan center with a population exceeding 160K and then there were only 4 available in a network of hard-courts far exceeding this number. Again, this only from personal experience.

As typical of my rants, its all about me. LOL

Your response was clear and insightful but regrettably not cynical.

happy6 writes:

here's a solution...have milk get rid of galiana and take the savings and fix the courts...i am still amazed that we need a parks director and an assistant....

ajm3s writes:

in response to happy6:

here's a solution...have milk get rid of galiana and take the savings and fix the courts...i am still amazed that we need a parks director and an assistant....

Excellent, and the crowd screams Ace!

Now we will await for the City's serve.

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