Petition Opposes New Fees For Trainers, Coaches Using Parks

Moms do push-ups on a Curtis Park picnic table during a 2009 boot camp. (File photo: Christina Barany).

More than 500 people have signed a petition opposing changes to the fees associated with University Park’s tennis courts and parks.

On April 10, the Parks Board recommended charging a new $1,000 annual fee to tennis instructors and personal trainers who conduct clinics and boot camps in the city’s parks. In addition, instructors would have to pay fees for half-day ($100), full-day ($200), and weeklong ($800) clinics. They would also be required to submit a roster one week prior to the clinic, proving that 51 percent of the participants live in University Park.

“The public wasn’t aware that the Parks Board had voted on this,” said Nicole Richter, who started the online “Keep Our Parks Awesome” petition that had 520 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. “It doesn’t seem like it’s the right answer.”

Richter’s petition says the proposal would increase residents’ annual permit fees for tennis courts by 100 percent. But a document provided by city spokesman Steve Mace shows that there would be no change in the individual permit fee of $40. The fees for senior and youth permits would increase from $7.50 to $10. The document does not mention the existing family fee of $80.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal on Tuesday.

“Nothing is in stone yet, certainly,” Mace said. “Should the public have opinions, they are welcome to attend the May 7 meeting.”

Richter, who has been using the courts with her children for a year, feels that the fees are too high, and will drive instructors out of the Park Cities. The residents, then, would travel to Dallas parks for lessons and boot camps.

“A couple of residents have complained that it’s hard to get a court with the reservation system, but other things can be done,” Richter said.

But from the city’s standpoint, the adaptations were drafted with residents in mind.

“It’s not designed to discontinue use by these individuals, but regulate their impact on others,” Mace said. “It’s not uncommon for a tennis instructor to lock up a number of the courts, making it difficult for residents to drop by and have a game.”

He predicts that the issue will be talked about in a work session just prior to the 5 o’clock council meeting, and then presented as a discussion item before the council.

“That’s the value of this, is that staff wants input from the council,” Mace said. “There’s ample time for public comment.”

27 thoughts on “Petition Opposes New Fees For Trainers, Coaches Using Parks

  • May 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm
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    “Keep our parks awesome” is exactly the goal of this new proposition. Trainers and coaches operate their businesses out of the parks that we pay taxes to maintain. Common sense.

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  • May 8, 2013 at 11:10 am
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    They absolutely should have to pay to use the parks for their business. Our tax money maintains them! No other business I know gets to use any space for free.

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  • May 8, 2013 at 11:26 am
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    The petition being circulated is misleading and inaccurate.”If the ammendments are allowed to pass, many of the services that our families currently enjoy within our city will disappear”. Hogwash! They may cost more because trainers will have to pay usage fees just like everyone else who uses the parks for private activities, but the trainers aint a goin nowhere. Typical fear tactics. Might as well say the proposal will hurt property values.

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  • May 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm
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    Lordy Lordy, I beg to differ. Increased red tape does drive people away. If you ask people to prove a majority of participants live in the Park Cities a week before clinics, that’s some red tape that many of those clinics can do without. Not saying I don’t support some kind of fee, but it is a public park. If the majority of participants are already Park Cities residents, haven’t they contributed their fair share of its upkeep already?

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  • May 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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    Currently for a kids sports team to rent a field(baseball, soccer etc.) a roster including addresses must be turned in along with reservation showing at least 50% of kids on team live in UNIVERSITY PARK. The new rule concerning boot camp participants being majority UP is only fair and consistent with current field rental rules. I would consider a boot camp to be a sport and be subject to same rules. So a rule already exists why isn’t it enforced?

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  • May 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm
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    nfw-
    UP Res:”I’d like you to train me in Curtis Park” Trainer:”Let’s go to Lee Park instead cause its free for me there and no red tape”
    UP Res:”No, Curtis is better for me, closer to home, gotta drop the kids at school by 8:15″
    Trainer:”Ok but the classes will be $12 each instead of $10 and you will have to sign the sign in sheet”
    UP Res:”Ok fine”

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  • May 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm
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    Holy cow someone at the Council meeting actually claimed that the proposition would lower property values! It hurts my head!

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  • May 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm
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    Lordy–If its just the resident and the trainer, why should they pay extra? The resident pays their property taxes to help fund the park already. Again, If the camp is comprised of a majority of Park Cities residents, why should we pay extra? Sell passes to non residents who have to present their pass in order to enroll in camps etc.– the rest of us have already paid our fair share.

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  • May 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm
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    nfw- UP taxpayers fund our parks for the benefit of the general public. The concept is that the general public, everyone, including non-citizens who do not pay UP taxes, have access to every inch of park space during operating hours. As soon as an individual marks out his territory on a field or tennis court and claims that that space and time as theirs alone, it is no longer a public space open to everyone. So even if you have paid your UP taxes for public parks, NO, you have not paid your fair share to turn those public spaces into your private workout facility. Bottom line is, trainers should be ashamed of not paying something to support the very parks where they make all their money. The new fees amount to about $2 a day for them. That’s $2 dollars more than ZERO that they are paying now to operate their business. The arguments presented by the opposition at the Council meeting were ridiculous: “I make your kids better for the high school team which brings more money to your city”, “I’m the real Mayor of Caruth Park”, “My clients don’t want to pay the higher fees”. Get over yourself. Grow up. Realise that if you are going to go into business, there are going to be some costs. Like $2 a day.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 12:13 am
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    Lordy, I was at the meeting. It’s not $2 a day for all instructors. Those were completely made up numbers, based on assumptions that every tennis instructor is on a court 3 hours each and every day, 52 weeks a year. The issues with tennis have largely been resolved by better enforcement of existing rules. The $1000 fee is excessive and completely unnecessary. Have the city go after the people who advertise, but leave the small-group or single personal trainers out of this.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 12:25 am
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    Should have said “on the courts, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year.”
    I guess the guy who runs the Parks department forgot that it rains once in awhile.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 7:00 am
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    Parkie- So what is the amount? Is it $5 a day? $10, $20 dollars a day to run your business make a profit and support UP parks? Still sounds like a heck of a bargain to me. Lets say you teach just one lesson a week, 52 out of the year. You probably get about $50 each lesson and that $1000 fee costs you just $19 per lesson. You still have over a 60% margin on your services! Math is a wonderful thing isn’t? Cuts through all the BS.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 8:17 am
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    Lordy, I’m not a tennis player, but, if I am a tennis lover who plays regularly like many, don’t many of the ladies do same thing as the instructors? Aren’t the instructors simply adhering to the wishes of the residents? Unless I’m missing something, we have more than our share of self-entitled residents who “mark their territory” as well. I’m not opposed to a fee, but it seems as though their “private workout facility” is simply used based upon the wishes of the client they “service.” $1,000 is a bit ridiculous ($2 a day doesn’t make the math work by the way).

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  • May 9, 2013 at 11:01 am
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    @Lordy Lordy, I don’t care one way or the other on this issue. However, your wonderful math assumes that these “teachers” spend zero money on advertising, equipment, transportation, website, phone, etc. which would be one extremely lean operation. Knowing how businesses, even small side businesses of training/teaching, work is a wonderful thing is it not?

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  • May 9, 2013 at 11:02 am
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    What is so hard to understand about the problem of private use of public space for monetary gain? Who cares if a resident invited the business owners or not? I live here and I’d like to invite a instructor from Lakewood to teach me how to do the Macarena. We’ll set up on a nice patch of grass in Caruth Park, because I like dancing outside. Hey the more people who join us, the cheaper the class will be for me and the more money the Macarena instructor will make. Everybody wins right? Too bad if someone else wants to use that area of the park, too bad if the Parks department has to patch up the grass in that area afterward, too bad if all the other residents of UP who don’t dance have to unwillingly subsidize my Macarena instructor’s profits with their tax dollars. I’m a tax paying resident and I shouldn’t have to pay extra to have my Macarena class in the park!

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  • May 9, 2013 at 11:47 am
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    Avid Reader- Please don’t hurt my head.
    Personal Trainer costs: Cell phone that he would have to have anyway $100 month. Car that he would have to have anyway $300 month. Info website $15 month. Insurance (if he has it) $100 month. Postings on Facebook $0. Word of mouth $0. Rubber bands $10 x 5. Use of parks $0. Property tax $0.
    Tennis Instructor costs: Cell phone that he would have to have anyway $100 month. Car that he would have to have anyway $300 month. Info website $15 month. Insurance (if he has it) $100 month. Postings on Facebook $0. Word of mouth $0. Tennis racket $100. Balls $20. Use of parks $0. Use of Tennis courts $0. Property tax $0.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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    Asking tennis instructors to pay $1,000 up front is just too much. Many teach only a few lessons a week. Whatever fee it is, it will be passed on to the resident. A $60 lesson will become $70 or $80.

    The city should have tennis instructors register, get an ID card, and pay an administrative fee of $25. The cost is not prohibitive, and the city would know everyone who teaches on our courts. If there is a problem with reserving courts, they can monitor that on the resident permit side. The city can see exactly who is reserving courts and can go after residents who abuse their privileges. Enforcing existing rules IS working.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm
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    Lordy Lordy: I don’t understand your logic. How is this different from say a group of Moms (who don’t live in UP) deciding to have a playgroup at Caruth Park every Monday, Wednesday and Friday? They will set up on a nice patch of grass and the kids will play while they visit. They will take up space I may want to use right? I may want to have a leisurely walk and not be bothered with a bunch of kids around. The Parks department may have to patch up the grass after those rascals are through playing. Please. It’s a public park. It’s there for the enjoyment of all, not just the residents. If you want peace and quiet you have to stay in your own backyard.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm
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    Geez whiz UP Town Council and UP Parks Board…lighten up on folks who like to exercise and their instructors. Must be looking everywhere to goose folks for an extra buck.

    By the way UP Town Council (and I say this chuckling), how many boards and committees do you have? I wonder what HP is brewing up? I hope HP doesn’t tax me on every mile I run everyday for using the sidewalk.

    I would recommend watching what is spent at town hall and use what you have, and stop grabbing for more dollars.

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  • May 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm
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    Another Mother- Review the subject matter before commenting. We are talking about people running a business in a public park, not about mommy’s playgroups.

    Parkie- A kid living in UP has to pay $60 for a pool pass to play in the pool for a couple of months. Do you really think it’s fair to charge an instructor only $25 to run his business out of our tennis facilities all year long?

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  • May 9, 2013 at 9:10 pm
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    Lordy Lordy isn’t use of the facility the same regardless of the fact it’s a playgroup or a trainer/instructor? Why do u seem hellbent on making the distinction? Are we going to start charging for birthday parties, too? I’m irritated by the people who use the park as a dog park with their unleashed dogs on a regular basis. Can we charge them,too? Don’t they trash the parks? Why does the fact that the trainers profit from their activities make them an easier target than every other offensive group?

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  • May 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm
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    Perhaps this will tone down the use of the parks by professionals with fairly large groups. I stopped going to Germany Park in the mornings a few years ago due to this problem. The instructors had them going forward, backward, they took most lanes, it was organized chaos that you couldn’t get through. I replaced it with a bike. So far no one has taken over the streets.

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  • May 10, 2013 at 8:03 am
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    Lordy: I was fully aware of the subject matter when I commented. I don’t see any difference between a weekly playgroup and a boot camp class being held in a public park. It’s public and people can use it for whatever they want. How about someone who pays a babysitter to take their kids to the park? The babysitter is being paid to be there. Same thing. It’s a public park.

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  • May 10, 2013 at 9:43 am
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    This seems like a solution looking for a problem.

    All I truly care about is that most of the participants are UP/ HP residents, and that they can’t hog the fields (e.g. a Tennis instructor can’t take an entire court for hours on end)so that everyone can get equal access.

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  • May 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm
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    I’m just not sure what the problem is that the Parks Board is trying to fix. Does the Park Department need more revenue? Are trainers hogging the public facilities? Steve Mace seems to imply so when he says: “regulate their (the trainers) impact on others”. @XT hit it right when he said that it “seems like a solution looking for a problem.”

    BTW, who is on the Parks Board? Are those city employees? Citizen volunteers? Appointees?

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  • May 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm
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    Lordy Lordy @ May 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm: “As soon as an individual marks out his territory on a field or tennis court and claims that that space and time as theirs alone, it is no longer a public space open to everyone.”

    Well, actually, yes. If I am on a tennis court, I get to use it for a reasonable time to the exclusion of others. Same with a park bench, picnic table, or lane on the track at Germany Park. I’m not saying we should do nothing, but the proposed fees are absurd. Someone had the idea to require the instructors to register and pay a $25 annual fee. That sounds about right.

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  • May 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm
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    Neal- Absurd is charging a UP kid $60 to swim in the pool for 2 months and charging a non-resident, non-taxpaying trainer only $25 for the entire year to run his business in the park or tennis court without any oversight or regulation. Another Mother- If the babysitter uses the parks to start a daycare business and is getting paid to watch multiple kids on a regular basis, then yes she should be charged a fee. NFW- They already do charge UP residents to reserve park space for birthday parties. That’s whole point, you should have to pay a fee to use a public space for a private activity.

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