The city of Sandy Springs has announced it will keep the contractor it hired to run the city’s Tennis Center after investigating claims the contractor misled the city.

In a press release issued Dec. 14, 2012, the city said Groslimond Tennis Services will begin services as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2013.

“After careful review of the proposals and investigation of facts, we are moving forward in our decision to award a contract and first-year task order to Groslimond,” Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said in a press release. “The city procurement process was conducted consistently with past procurement procedures. In addition, we had experienced parks and recreation professionals on the evaluation team providing industry expertise. We are confident that the process was fair and thorough.”

Operation Tennis Inc., a bidder who was selected as a runner-up to Groslimond, alleged the company gave the city biased third-party evaluations written by people with a financial stake in the contract.

Operation Tennis Inc. attorney Bruce Brown said he may consider filing a lawsuit to block the contract.

“None of the charges that we leveled have been refuted,” Brown said. “Groslimond won the bid and the work with evaluations that it procured from its own employees and it is outrageous that the city and the city attorney would award the contract to an entity that has made these proven and unrefuted misstatements and has never demonstrated the capacity or integrity to do the work.”

Company President Gery Groslimond has said the allegations were untrue. The city agreed with Groslimond.

“Operation Tennis, Inc. and the company’s attorney, Bruce P. Brown, alleged misrepresentation by Groslimond in their proposal submission,” the city’s response says. “The city’s investigation proved statements made by Operation Tennis, Inc. were without merit.”

The Sandy Springs Reporter  spoke at length with Groslimond about the claims Brown made regarding the third party evaluations.  Groslimond released a short statement in response to the city’s announcement.

“Groslimond Tennis Services is excited to serve the City of Sandy Springs & Sandy Springs Tennis Center patrons in 2013,” he said via email. “GTS looks forward to working in partnership with the city to bring great tennis to the Sandy Springs Tennis Center community.

Sandy Springs City Council awarded the contract to Groslimond Tennis Services on Nov. 6. Under the contract, Groslimond will pay the city $60,000 to run the center, twice what other bidders offered. In his bid, Groslimond anticipates making $121,000 in net profit from customer fees.

Groslimond said the connections between the people writing the evaluations and his other company, Tennis Academy of the South were either disclosed or non-existent.

Michael Gaudette submitted an evaluation, listing his company as “Tennis Pre-Academy.” Records filed with the Georgia Secretary of State list the company’s official name as the Tennis Academy of the South Pre-Academy. Brown said Gaudette’s wife, Shannan McCarthy- Gaudette, works for Groslimond. She was listed as an employee on the Tennis Academy of the South’s website the week of Dec. 7, but her name had been removed by Dec. 12.

Michael Gaudette gave Groslimond a glowing recommendation, marking his work as “exceptional” in his response to the city’s questionnaire. The Gaudettes have not returned messages seeking comment.

Groslimond said McCarthy-Gaudette has never worked for his company and said her name was placed on his website five years ago. He said he removed her name because the company is revamping its website to include information about the Sandy Springs Tennis Center.

“We were trying to have her train advanced kids,” Groslimond said. “She was a highly ranked player. It never worked out.”

In his bid application, Groslimond lists Casey Chapin as a future employee at the Tennis Center and Chapin submitted a positive review based on his work with Groslimond when Chapin supervised the tennis program in Gwinnett County.

Groslimond said Chapin turned down a job offer and will work at the center as an unpaid volunteer. Chapin did not return a message seeking comment while this article was being prepared for publication.

It’s not unusual that people Groslimond regularly interacts with would submit the evaluations, Groslimond said. The tennis community is tight-knit, he said. “Everybody knows everybody.”

In his bid, Groslimond also informed the city that he’s certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association. On the Tennis Academy of the South’s website, he says he is a member. Being a USPTA member makes Groslimond eligible for a line of liability insurance.

When a reporter called the USPTA to check Groslimond’s membership status, the association reported that Groslimond hadn’t been a member since 2010. Other members of the staff were current.

Groslimond said he will renew his membership and said the certification, not the membership, is what’s important.

He said he has been truthful and that his experience shows he is more than qualified to run the center.

“What I’ve tried to do is answer the city forthrightly,” Groslimond said, adding. “I’ve lived in Sandy Springs for 37 years …I’m 60 years old. I would like this to be my last job.”

In addition to the city’s official statement, City Councilman Chip Collins sent an email to constituents in support of the city’s decision.

“There’s been a good deal of email traffic regarding the new management of the tennis center, much of it based on inaccurate facts and assumptions,” Collins wrote. “Here’s what we hope will be the final word on the matter. If you’re a tennis player, I encourage you to get behind the new management team and enjoy our wonderful facility.  Also, keep in mind that it’s just a one-year contract, so we have no obligation to go beyond that if something doesn’t work out.”

Here is the city’s full press release:

SANDY SPRINGS (Dec. 14, 2012) —  Groslimond Tennis Services, Inc. will take over management of the City of Sandy Springs tennis center as part of its one-year task order beginning Jan. 1, 2013.  The City confirmed its decision following allegations from Operation Tennis, Inc., one of the bidders for the contract who did not receive the initial task order.

“After careful review of the proposals and investigation of facts, we are moving forward in our decision to award a contract and first year task order to Groslimond,” said Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos. “The City procurement process was conducted consistently with past procurement procedures. In addition, we had experienced parks and recreation professionals on the evaluation team providing industry expertise. We are confident that the process was fair and thorough.”

Operation Tennis, Inc. and the company’s attorney, Bruce P. Brown, alleged misrepresentation by Groslimond in their proposal submission.  The City’s investigation proved statements made by Operation Tennis, Inc. were without merit.

In addressing charges made by Operation Tennis, Inc., the City concluded that Groslimond’s leadership team has the depth of experience required in the RFP. Fee increases proposed in Groslimond’s proposal are reasonable and within market rate. Financial responsibility for minor and preventative maintenance, utilities, as well as an online court reservation system will be the responsibility of Groslimond, per the RFP requirements – not the City’s residents as insinuated by Operation Tennis, Inc.  Tennis players, ALTA and other organized teams will have choice over instructors as there is no requirement to use those affiliated with Groslimond.

When Groslimond begins operations in January, City residents will see the addition of extended hours, cost free play time and added programming.

“The City is confident in the experience and ability of Groslimond, and looks forward to an exciting new tennis program and ever improving facility,” added Galambos.

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