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SCW Board moves forward with tennis court project

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The Recreation Centers of Sun City West Governing Board on Thursday, with the advice of its legal counsel, informed the community it was moving forward with a planned tennis court renovation project, and no community election would be held.

The Board voted unanimously to follow the bylaws, as confirmed by the Association Attorney, and not hold an election.

An election was requested by a petition that had circulated in the community in April and gained more than 1,000 signatures. The petition asked that the project be delayed until the community could vote on the expenditure. The Bylaws, however, do not give members the authority, even through a petition, to affect the budget. That power rests with the Governing Board, however, all felt that the petition demonstrated an important purpose; the people spoke and the board listened.

In a written legal opinion requested by the Board, the attorney advised the Directors that an election in this case – to allow the membership to vote on a capital project – is not proper or allowed for in the Bylaws.

Under Bylaw 4.18.3, regarding Board powers, the Bylaws state the Board shall “hold and bear the fiduciary responsibilities for the preservation of the assets of the Association.” And under Bylaw 4.19.6, regarding its Duties and Responsibilities, the Board is charged with, “Ensuring that Association facilities are properly maintained.” Similarly, Bylaw 4.19.7 states the Board shall approve the annual financial plan.

“It is very important for the Board of Directors to protect the assets and property values of our residents even when there are controversial issues,” said President-Elect Peggy Robbins.

The petition that was circulated asks “that this project be removed from the 2017-2018 budget and delayed until such time as ample justification has been made for this expenditure of member funds and the approval of the community has been determined through a Special Election Vote, prior to proceeding further with this project.”

However, there is no provision in the Bylaws allowing members to stop the Board from carrying out its duties in Bylaws 4.18 and 4.19 to preserve the assets of the Association and approve the annual financial plan. Under Bylaw 9.1, members may amend the Bylaws by getting at least 1,000 signatures on a petition and calling for a vote. But the vote would be to amend the Bylaws, not to amend the budget or stop a capital project.

“This Association is organized and operated to provide for the acquisition, construction, management, maintenance, and care of Association property,” said Governing Board President Wanda Schnabel. “The Bylaws charge the Governing Board with the responsibility to provide oversight of the administration and operation of the Association (Bylaw 4.18.2). These two statements charge the Governing Board with maintaining safe and adequately maintained facilities for our residents to use. Sun City West is nearly 40 years old, and many of our facilities are aging and need or will shortly need updating.”

The project in question is the renovation of eight courts (including new lighting on four courts) at the R.H. Johnson Tennis Complex. The project is budgeted at $961,477. Confusion arose because the second phase of this project, which includes renovation of the final seven courts at R.H. Johnson, as well as a proposed central landscaping/plaza area, was lumped in by some members of the community, who believed the entire project next fiscal year was going to cost more than $2 million.

Although the planning and design costs for the entire project was budgeted in year one, construction was budgeted in two phases, in two years. Phase 2, which is for the seven courts (three of which would be lighted), would cost $802,285. The central plaza would cost about $382,400. Both of those items were planned for the second year of the project, not fiscal year 2017-18.

Funding for new enhancements in the central plaza area such as shade structures, social area enhancements etc., would be funded by the Tennis Club. That was a major request from those who attended two community forums held by the Association to gather public input.

“We have appreciated all of the input,” Robbins said.

Schnabel added, “The tennis courts are the property of the Association, not the Tennis Club. It is the responsibility of the Governing Board to ensure our facilities are maintained. Nowhere in the charges to the Board does it say the facilities should only be maintained to support what some residents consider ample utilization. It is sound fiduciary responsibility to replace the courts with post-tension concrete, which will last a minimum of 30 years, instead of continuing to spend money on repairs that will only last a relatively short period of time.”

R.H. Johnson has a total of 16 courts. The 15 would be renovated in the two phases listed above. The final one is being put in now, at a cost of $77,687, which the Tennis Club is funding. That court removes the last pickleball courts from the R.H. Johnson Tennis Complex, which is part of a compromise between the tennis and pickleball clubs, which have been unable to coexist because of differences in their sports. The compromise was designed to end the years-long bickering between the clubs. R.H. Johnson was designated as the standalone tennis complex, and Palm Ridge was designated as the standalone pickleball complex in that compromise, which also included a pledge to renovate the R.H. Johnson courts. The current project for eight courts this year and seven next year, fulfills that promise.

Also during that compromise, it was recognized that Kuentz’s tennis courts were increasingly underutilized and might be better used for something else. That message also came across loud and clear in the two recent community forums. The Governing Board reiterated that intention during Thursday’s meeting. The ProBounce surface on Kuentz’s courts is good for a couple of years, and those courts will be needed during the R.H. Johnson courts’ renovation, but after that time, the Kuentz situation will be reevaluated.

Read the legal opinion from the Association Attorney.

  1. Karen Kirkman says:

    Thank you to the Governing Board for their time, hard work, and dedication to maintaining the assets we have and making SCW a great community!

  2. Diane Hashem says:

    I am very pleased that the Governing Board came to this conclusion. This will be a great asset to the community and will also draw more retired tennis players to SCW. I truly appreciate the efforts & hard work by everyone on the Governing Board.

  3. margaret says:

    Dear community- just because the project is broken down into 3 parts/ 2 years, it still adds up to $2,146,000.When you add $961,477,+$802,285,+$382,000, a multi-million dollar project as the petition said, all which is not maintenance.

    However, with the community now aware, and the board, general manager, & staff knowing there are citizens who are concerned about fiscal responsibility in this community, hopefully this and future proposals will be handled properly– following bylaws, proper policies and procedures, & forums; not done after the fact, because a community petition brought it to light.

    So let’s watch the process going forward:
    1. Only 8 courts, 4 lights updated 2017
    2. Tennis pays their debt of $ 77,687 for useless E-W court
    3. Tennis pays their share ($ 150,000 or more?) of the central
    Plaza like other clubs have paid for new & ungrades, fair is
    fair.
    ( plaza is obviously new, not maintenance)
    4.Real player use numbers are properly counted. Not counting ping
    pong or volleyball as tennis. Come on folks, Really!! Really!
    5.In future Repurpose unused Kuentz Tennis courts for other uses
    growing in the community.

    Don’t deminish the petition,1000 signatures were needed to be acknowledged, however over 1500+ signatures were acquired. This community held prior board elections with 800 votes, last year less than 3000. The petition signers were half the people who vote for board members.

    So let’s keep informed, participate, and be an active part of this great community.

  4. Sally Prickett says:

    I chose SCW for my retirement because it contained many amenities which were kept clean and well maintained. I play tennis, pb, golf and use other facilities as well. I want a community which is progressive and inclusive of all interests. When I can no longer participate in physical activities I still want “my” community to have this mind set. Thanks to the Governing Board and all who participated in this process.

  5. Multimedia says:

    Good morning Margaret. We acknowledge and appreciate the petition, and the hard work that went into collecting the necessary signatures. It’s important to state that the author of the petition is satisfied with the outcome. The Board, General Manager and staff are aware that our Owner Members are concerned about fiscal responsibility and all of the above take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously. In this case, the Board did a thorough review of the bylaws in their decision to not hold an election. The Association attorney confirmed their decision and found that bylaws and proper procedures had been followed all along. We feel this was a great showing of how Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws work and that a positive outcome was achieved from the Board and citizenry alike. We agree with your last statement, we hope for Sun City West Owner Members to stay informed and participate. Have a great day.

  6. Scott L Mitzner says:

    The tennis court renovation is a total waste of money. Adds no value to our community and homes. Its like spending money to repaint and modernize a pig barn.

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