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WCA Board’s Tennis Staff Changes Prompt Complaints; Board to Resurrect Swim and Tennis Committee

In August a June decision by the WCA Board of Directors to create a second tennis professional position prompted some negative feedback from Westchase residents – and the existing Westchase Tennis Director.

At the Aug. 8 meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA), a group of parents whose children participate in the junior tennis program expressed their concerns over recent changes in the program and to Coach Mike Larscheid’s position. Under the previous organizational plan, Larscheid was the sole tennis pro on staff. As chief administrator for the tennis program, Larscheid largely took responsibility for overseeing the Junior Tennis programs, aimed at kids, while an assistant, Dan Milkie, coaches most of the adult programs. In June, however, the board, however, voted to create two pro positions, both of which would be supervised by Facilities and Operations Manager Kelly Shires. Rather than simply promote Milkie, however, the board has opened the new position to other applicants as well.

That June vote was 6-1, with WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga opposed.

Discussions regarding the organizational change, however, largely took place in a closed executive session, which the board is permitted to convene to discuss staff issues or matters related to actual or possible litigation.

During the August Resident Forum, Arrillaga assured the parents that the changes were only to the organizational chart for the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center and that Coach Larscheid’s duties and responsibilities remained the same. “The organizational chart was changed so that the tennis pros report to the Program and Facilities Manager. Neither the position’s pay or decision-making powers was affected by this change. The only impact to you is you now have two tennis pros to choose from for adult or junior lessons,” Arrillaga told the parents.

Several parents expressed outrage that the decision was made in private but Arrillaga assured them that all board meetings were public and they were always welcome to attend.

Arrillaga added that the current structure constrained the ability of the assistant to increase his or her teaching load to produce reasonable compensation. The change, he argued, was meant to create a more attractive second position while giving both children and adults a choice of two different coaches.

The board’s decision, however, did not sit well with Larscheid. Speaking with WOW after the August meeting, Larscheid, who has worked as Westchase’s sole pro for 13 years, argued the dual pro approach will bifurcate the Westchase tennis program, creating a dysfunctional atmosphere of competitive undercutting between the two pros and create a lack of clarity about the future direction, teaching approach and goals of the program. Larscheid also predicted it would make it more difficult to attract a respected tennis pro with at least ten years of experience. No experienced pro, he argued, would agree to the arrangement. “It’s short-sighted,” he stated.

The board, however, left the new organizational structure unchanged and is proceeding with their search for a second tennis pro.

At the August meeting Director Ken Blair also reported that the Government Affairs Committee has been working with Glencliff’s Voting Member to resolve a sidewalk repair that was done incorrectly. Blair told the board, “Hillsborough County replaced the sidewalk with asphalt, which is not correct or acceptable. The county has admitted that the asphalt was a temporary fix but could not give an exact date as to when the corrections would be made.”

Blair also reported that there were several sidewalk areas that have been pushed up by tree roots and needed to be sanded down. Arrillaga suggested a letter be sent from the board to Hillsborough County asking them to resolve the issues. All directors present voted in favor.

Westchase Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that the association’s budget draft for 2104 was complete and that the United States Tennis Association grant request for money to go towards Westchase Swim and Tennis Center facility upgrades was in its final stages. The budget workshop, at which Voting Members (VMs) and residents are invited to review and offer input on the budget draft, is slated for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center, immediately after the monthly meeting of the VMs.

Sainz also announced that Director Edward Santiago and she have been researching options for installing wireless Internet service at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. Sainz reported that the day before the meeting Verizon finally responded to a request for a bid. She said that while the initial cost for Verizon to install the equipment and lines is double the cost of the bids from the other two companies, the signal will be stronger, all equipment will be provided and the monthly cost will be less. Arrillaga said the extra initial cost should be recouped within two years. Santiago therefore made a motion to use Verizon but ask them if the monthly rate for service could be reduced more if the association signed an extended contract for service. All six board members present voted in favor; Director Dyan Pithers was absent from the meeting due to travel.

Directors also unanimously ratified the Glencliff association budget.

A request from a Daisy troop to have a standing reservation two Mondays each month for the activity room at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center was tabled until next month. Directors expressed concern that the group did not have enough Westchase residents to meet the 50-percent membership requirement. Arrillaga said he would ask for more information from them. Sainz and Facilities Manager Kelly Shires cautioned the board that allowing too many groups to have standing reservations would fill the reservation book up quickly. They agreed that the original policy requiring groups to call 60 days in advance to book the room was perhaps the better approach.

Concluding major action, Arrillaga announced that a resident recently pointed out to him that there was not a Swim and Tennis Committee in existence although the WCA’s bylaws state that one must be appointed by the board.

While the bylaws do stipulate that a Swim and Tennis Committee must be appointed, the bylaws curiously allow the board flexibility in deciding whether to appoint a Modifications Committee and Covenants Committee, the two committees most relied upon by the board. In recent years, the Swim and Tennis Committee was allowed to go defunct by the board when past committee members attempted to inject the committee into staffing decisions, a power, directors argue, that rests exclusively with the board. Of the committee’s responsibilities, the bylaws state, “The Swim and Tennis Committee shall evaluate the use of the community’s pools and tennis and recreational facilities and advise the Board of Directors on issues relating to these facilities.”

Arrillaga said he had received several e-mails from people who are interested in being a part of the committee. None, however, were present at the August meeting and since there were several on the list whom he did not know personally, he did not feel comfortable recommending them for a committee. He suggested that people interested in being a part of the Swim and Tennis Center Committee be asked to attend the next board meeting to introduce themselves to the board. All board members agreed.

The next WCA Board meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 5, at the WCA office building at 10049 Parley Dr. in West Park Village.

By Marcy Sanford and Chris Barrett, Publisher

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