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New tennis director to watch over courts

By MINDY RUBENSTEIN
Published June 13, 2007


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ZEPHYRHILLS - Karl Hinkle pleaded his case Monday night to serve as the city's tennis director, using the tennis courts at Zephyr Park. After much discussion, the council passed the request unanimously, despite issues raised by public works director Rick Moore.

"Currently there's no events held at the courts, " City Manager Steve Spina said. "(City Planner) Todd (Vande Berg) and I thought it was a good idea. We're both tennis enthusiasts."

Moore said he gets many requests from residents wanting to offer their services at the park, including massage therapists and fortune-tellers, and he has to tell them no. Pasco County has an agreement in which residents pay the county, and the county in turn gives a portion to the instructors as contractors, he said.

The council was ready to approve the agreement anyway, when Spina pointed out the ordinance prohibiting the deal. But the council can decide to override that, the ordinance states.

"The snow cone man sits there every day, " council member Celia Graham said. He pays $75 a month and plugs into the city's electricity.

She said she got a phone call from a resident who was encouraging her to vote in favor of the tennis director because it could help prevent potential vandalism and it's a good opportunity for kids to get involved in a positive activity.

"I understand fully Rick's concerns, " Hinkle said. "I've done a lot of this stuff gratis over the years. Rick is saying there's not a need for it. He's just not hearing it because I'm fulfilling it, " he said, adding that he has 30 private students.

Vandalism is an issue, Hinkle added, including people riding bikes and skateboards across the courts. "I feel like if I had a formal title, I'm more than happy to help monitor the activities up there."

"It's something good so I'm all for it, " said council member Danny Burgess.

For the next six months, Hinkle will be able to reserve the courts several hours a day for private lessons and he will direct a summer tennis camp.

"I have some of the same concerns as Rick does, " said Mayor Cliff McDuffie. "But the other side of that coin is we don't have many activities for the kids in the summer. If it would help keep kids off the streets it's a good idea."

In other news, the city received an appraisal for the Wachovia Bank building it hopes to purchase for a new City Hall.

"There's a lot of wasted space here, " Spina said of the current facility, built in the 1960s. The light blue council chambers used to serve as a community center for graduations, weddings and proms.

Now things are in limbo as the city looks to develop its downtown.

"We need to see what's going to happen with the tax situation, " Vande Berg said.

"The good news is the valuations are up that will provide us with about $200, 000 to use" for downtown redevelopment, he said.

He's talking with planners at the University of South Florida and local architects to develop renderings of what can be done.

"I just like to keep an open mind, " Vande Berg said. "It's not just for downtown. The staff feels like we need to pursue the big picture for the City Hall, a second fire station and the new library."

"I was happy to see (the appraisal) came in at $980, 000 rather than the $1.5-million, " Spina said of the 14, 000-square-foot facility. "It's a work in progress."

[Last modified June 13, 2007, 07:28:35]


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