Those of you who live here in Forsyth County, NC probably have heard that the board of commissioners asked those working in the government to make cuts in order to keep from having to raise taxes. Of course they claim that they’re doing this in our tough economic times because it just ain’t right to ask struggling citizens to pay more taxes, but if you believe that I have some swampland in Florida to sell you. Whatever. The cuts have to be made somewhere and at Tanglewood at least one of the cuts they are making is in the department that manages the tennis facility, pool and Mallard Lake. Here’s text from an email sent to the community of tennis players by one of the folks affected by the cuts:
First of all, let me start by saying how much all of you all have
meant to Gordon and I at Tanglewood Community Tennis Center! I have been here
for 16 years, Gordon 17 and Ryan 3 years. We have had the privilege to meet so
many incredible people. Thank you for such an amazing experience! You all have
taught me so much about myself including my strengths, my weaknesses and have
helped me to gain the confidence I need to move forward from here. I will
treasure this experience and the friendships I have made forever! It is with a
heavy heart and much sadness that it looks like I will be leaving you all at
Tanglewood Community Tennis Center.
With that being said, I am not leaving Tanglewood Tennis by my own
will. Tanglewood Community Tennis Center as you know it will no longer exist. I
was told today that my job and Ryan’s job is being eliminated as of June 30th. I
have been offered a library position within the County as a way to not totally
be out of a job. At this point I am considering all options and trying to move
forward from here. This is especially hard for us with our budget numbers being
better than ever. Our department, Tennis and Mallard Lake (Pool comes separate),
is up a record 34% with the next highest being golf at 7%. We have also lowered
expenses by $20,000.00. If we had been doing bad financially or had made some
big mistakes along the road, then this elimination would not be as devastating
as it is to us now. The County just said that it was due to budget cuts.
So what does this mean for you? There are many things still to be
sorted out since this all came to us today. You all have supported this facility
all through the years and helped to make it the success that it is – thank you
for that! We will still try to provide the services that you have come to love
and expect but we will have to be creative with that considering we only will
have one full time staff member and no part-time or seasonal help. With only
Gordon left to manage on his own: tennis, pool and lake, the scope of our
leagues, programs, tournaments and special events will more than likely no
longer exist or will only be able to be offered on a limited basis. We are so
sorry for this for you all have supported and grown these programs for so long.
We are who we are because of you! We will finish up this session of the men’s
and women’s league but will no longer be offering any new ones until we see what
the realm of possibility will be.
As for the USTA Mixed and Combo leagues, we will still have the USTA
Mixed kick-off on June 13-15th weekend, but this will more than likely be our
last "hoo-rah"! Matches will more than likely be played at Hanes Park and
Visions. It appears we will not have the staff to cater for it at Tanglewood.
We were suppose to have the BMW State Combo Tournament here again for a
record 4th year! However, with the loss of my position at Tanglewood, at this
point, I do not see how this will be possible. There was a good possibility of
being awarded this tournament for even more years, but that doesn’t seem likely
now either. This tournament brings in 2000 players with $2 to $3 million being
brought in to our community over one weekend through hotels, restaurants, etc.
Thank you to all those who volunteered to make this event such a success for our
In closing, Gordon, Ryan and myself THANK YOU for your support,
friendships and believing in us as a team all these years. Gordon will still be
at Tanglewood Community Tennis Center to try and carry on as best he can! We
have put too much of our hearts, lives and total commitment into this facility
to see it fail now! We are not asking you to do anything further, but if you
wish to express your supporting thoughts, experiences and hopes that this
decision can be reconsidered, below are contact email addresses for County
Commissioners and phone numbers for the County Manager and the Assistant County
Manager who are over us and ultimately made this unfortunate decision:
Well, the second to last paragraph is one that ought to interest folks. Although the vast majority of folks in Forsyth don’t play tennis we all have the opportunity to enjoy the park facilities. The fact that Tanglewood is able to draw people from outside the community to spend money that in turn helps subsidize the park system we enjoy should be celebrated, not put in jeopardy. Just as the wine festival last weekend drew 20,000 people to the park, the tennis tournaments that Tanglewood hosts draws thousands of participants throughout the year, and they spend money while they’re here. Kind of crazy, huh?
Tourism dollars are a hot topic locally because of county commissioner Ted Kaplan’s tiff with the Travel Development Authority (TDA). I’m wondering how events like the BMW State Combo fit into that picture? Does the TDA help the park system market their events to the outside world? If not, is this what Kaplan is talking about when he says he wants to see more TDA funds spent on grants to organizations to be used to promote and host events like this?
This is but a small bit of the picture, one that I’m interested in because of my involvement with local tennis. Is it the end of the world? No, not at all. But it does help us understand what budget cuts mean in the real world. Maybe keeping taxes frozen at current rates and reducing county services is the right thing to do, but it almost certainly will mean hearing multiple stories like this one. Sure we’re each saving some money on taxes, but we will also be losing services. Most of you won’t care about this particular service, but I can almost guarantee that there will be a service cut that you do care about. That’s the road our county leaders chose to take and it’s up to us to decide if it’s the right one.