ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — The answer to who will manage Atlanta’s tennis courts is still up in the air, and here lately, it’s back and forth over the net between the former contractor, Universal Tennis Management (UTM), also known as Universal Tennis Academy (UTA), and a recommended contractor, Agape Tennis Academy.
Atlanta City Council recently set aside the recommendation to contract with Agape after an outcry from UTM supporters.
“I think there’s a good chance that we will be able to get that legislation brought back out for vote, so I don’t want to move too far away from that same feeling and making forward movement with our plans,” said Agape Tennis Academy Owner and CEO Amy Pazahanick, adding they also plan to make capital improvements and host more events at several locations if given the opportunity.
Pazahanick says the procurement process doesn’t allow them to share much with the public, so she says many don’t know who they are yet, in order to make an informed decision about which contractor to support. “There’s the potential for a lot of great things moving forward, and we want the opportunity to execute on those things,” she said.
UTM’s contract ended in August after nearly 10 years, and they’re still hoping the city will enter into a new agreement with them.
”We’ve been doing this a lot longer, we’ve had nothing but success over the last 25 years, we’ve filled tennis courts,” said UTM Partner Tim Noonan. “By all business metrics, we have a superior company.”
After council’s decision, Agape condemned the city’s procurement process, saying their academy was selected twice, before the city failed to move forward both times. They previously issued a statement, indicating in part:
This is setting a horrible precedent for the City of Atlanta and those that wish to do business with the City.
Agape also accused UTM of violating the city’s blackout and anti-lobbying rules. Click here to read the full statement in our prior story.
“The law department said that if UTM was guilty of violating these ethics issues, which we didn’t feel like we were, then Agape was also guilty of the same ones,” Noonan said, in response to the accusations.
After our prior report, UTM issued the following statement:
Agape’s attempt to paint UTM in an unfavorable light regarding ethics violations is weak and ironic. First of all, the city has been inconsistent in its’ definition of the blackout period. In all correspondence from Procurement to UTM (screenshot attached) the following definition of the blackout period has been used; “Offeror or any representative, agent or other person acting on behalf of Offeror is prohibited from contacting any other City agency, employee, representative, or elected or appointed official regarding questions about this solicitation.” UTM has not violated this provision. When the question of potential Ethics’ violations was raised by the city, there was a completely different definition applied, with words like “campaigning” and “lobbying” used that were not previously referenced. Even with this expanded definition, UTM feels that it has not violated the blackout period. We have encouraged our supporters to exercise their First Amendment rights to be heard. We have even encouraged them to support Agape if they feel that it is warranted!
Secondly, and more telling, is the irony of this accusation. The City concluded in its’ Ethics investigation that, “Based on the language of the provision, Law determined that if one proponent was potentially subject to disqualification, then the language subjected both proponents to potential disqualification.” Why Agape failed to point that out in their accusations against us is consistent with Agape’s track record.
UTM will put its 25-year history of ethics, philanthropy, and business excellence up against anyone else in our industry. If Agape chooses to engage UTM in an ethics “food fight” we are quite confident that we have enough “food” to face that challenge.
Agape says, at this point, they’re ready to move forward with their vision for Atlanta’s tennis courts.
“It’s bringing more of all five of those tennis centers together, making things more inclusive, making things more equitable and accessible across the City of Atlanta,” said Pazahanick.
Both academies say they hope the city will work on its Request for Proposal (RFP) processes and open the door for another vote on the matter. “We want some answers, especially some transparency on the scoring of this RFP,” said Noonan.
The city acknowledged the council vote in this statement below:
The contract with United Tennis Academy ended on August 11, 2020. Utilizing the City’s Procurement process, the City evaluated bids and ultimately through this Procurement process, Agape Tennis Academy LLC., was deemed the most responsive and responsible bidder. Additionally, the Independent Procurement Review Report was conducted. Based on the results from an exhaustive and thorough Procurement process, a recommendation was provided to the Atlanta City Council, which voted to file the legislation during the September 8, 2020 Council Meeting.
The City of Atlanta Tennis Centers remain open for single-match play only. Reservations can be made in advance through the Department of Parks and Recreation iParcs system www.atlantaga.gov/iparcs or by calling 404-546-6757.
However, the city declined to interview on the issue or immediately comment on what happens next.