Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Lee County, Fla., Finds Excellence Binding

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Lee County, Fla., Finds Excellence Binding

Article excerpt

For many people, Lee County, Fla., is virtually synonymous with sea shelling along Sanibel Island and tarpon fishing at Boca Grande Pass. But for the United States Tennis Association in 2000, Lee County, Fla., means excellence.

The USTA, in conjunction with the NRPA, has honored Lee County Parks and Recreation as the gold winner of the 2000 USTA Excellence in Tennis Programming Award. Lee County Parks and Recreation, in fact, stands out from its peers in a year when the USTA has broadened the award to two levels of winners. While Lee County Parks and Recreation was the gold level winner, receiving $5,000 and a plaque, Santa Rosa (Calif.) Recreation and Parks and Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District Tennis Center in Beaverton, Ore., were co-winners of the silver level award. Each received $2,500, in addition to their plaques.

One of the distinguishing components of the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department is its agreement with the Lee County Community Tennis Association that allows the tennis association to organize and run all tennis programs at each of the 18 Lee County tennis facilities. In fact, it is more than an agreement; it is a contractual obligation.

Lee County Parks and Recreation and the Lee County Community Tennis Association signed a one-year contract that went into effect March 1, 1999, with a two-year option. That option was picked up and the agreement now continues through Dec. 31, 2002.

Under the terms of the contract, the tennis instructors, provided by the Lee County Community Tennis Association, receive 80 percent of the revenues from all tennis programs and private lessons, while Lee County Parks and Recreation and the tennis association share the remaining 20 percent.

"This is a wonderful arrangement," says Barbara Manzo, deputy director of Lee County Parks and Recreation. "They do the work and take over the game. They're the experts and they're the pros, and they know where we need to go with our tennis program. I provide them with courts, while the people in the community get the service. That's what we're all about."

During years of cooperation leading up to the landmark contract agreement between the two entities, countywide tennis participation increased 400 percent, from 300 youth and adults in 1996 to more than 1,200 in 1999. …

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