It is not broke; don’t fix it. I am totally amazed at the number of people who still have not learned from this axiom. Usually it is someone touting a “new way” or “much improved,” or we will save lots of money. I have been very skeptical of these claims, as I have found it usually is the person making these claims who wants to make the money. Now Wellington is testing this axiom with its review of the tennis club and Tommy Cheatham’s contract.
Mr. Cheatham has delivered a high level of service to the community for almost 20 years in an area that is considered one of the toughest to perform in recreation and municipal government. Being a recreation professional, running a tennis center, programs, leagues and keeping the members happy is one of the most challenging jobs in our industry. Most communities go through four or five tennis pros in the same time that Tommy has been in Wellington.
Tommy and his wife have been residents for over 20 years, they have been great neighbors and have been totally committed to Wellington and tennis as long as I can remember. When the village became incorporated, the tennis club was not in the best of shape. Tommy took the reins and created a viable club with adult and youth programs, leagues and even dragged the courts himself on many occasions. Tommy worked nights, weekends and holidays, making sure things ran right and courts were playable, despite meager support from the village or the recreation department. While on the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board with Mayor Bob Margolis, Tommy came before us several times with ideas and plans to improve the tennis facility. Unfortunately, the tennis center was always put on the back burner. Then, when the village was looking for ways to reduce its budget, a plan was put in place to shift the responsibility and much of the tennis budget to Mr. Cheatham. Tommy took on the challenge, even though it caused some economic hardship for him initially. He persevered and continued to run the tennis center as a first-class facility with high approval ratings from his members and leagues. He worked with the village on some improvements, but basically Tommy has the same old facility he came to 20 years ago and continues to make it shine.
A recreation program is evaluated by its level of service to the user, the satisfaction of the user, and the user coming back multiple times to use the service. Tommy has excelled in this area. Recreation programs are not successful because they are the cheapest; you could have the cheapest program in town, but if the users are not happy, the program fails. Beware, village council: The lawyers sitting in front of you representing the organization wanting to run Tommy out of town and giving you “cheaper” tennis service will be the same lawyers filing a lawsuit against you after you have fired them because of all the unhappy customers that they created. Leave the tennis center and tennis programs alone. They are running just fine.