A partnership between the city of Rollingwood and nonprofit corporation Rollingwood Park Trust Inc. to operate and improve Hatley Park has been under consideration by city officials since June, and the new plan, presented during the Sept. 18 regular City Council meeting, provides an alternative to that proposal.
A July 17 public hearing on the Rollingwood Park Trust Inc. proposal saw mixed emotions on how to keep park operations sustainable. Some decried an unnecessary commercialization of the park through the additions of a cafe and signage on the ball fields, while others pressed for the fiscal solvency they hoped would be delivered by the plan.
That initial presentation, first introduced publicly to council June 19, states Rollingwood Park Trust would invest more than $100,000 over 12-36 months of the new agreement for capital repairs, replacements and improvements within the park.
Rollingwood residents Melissa Morrow and Catherine Horne, representing the Park Commission's subcommittee, addressed council during the Sept. 18 meeting and said even though their proposal was billed on the agenda as an alternate, it was largely built from Rollingwood Park Trust's concepts.
Horne said her group wanted to address and fix issues with the park's existing lease, and since the city of Rollingwood officially owns the park, it should have more control over its operations.
The Park Commission subcommittee seeks to retain partnerships long held with Western Hills Little League and Western Hills Girls Softball, according to city documents, but also to evolve those partnerships through new financial terms to become effective Jan. 1.
Overall, the new proposal raises the Western Hills groups' current annual lease from $29,587 to $32,266 for a difference of almost $2,700.
Additionally, the Park Commission seeks to take over duties from the Western Hills entities including field mowing, irrigation maintenance and janitorial services.
"Across the board, that is the issue," Horne said, adding that if the city takes over the bulk of subcontracting for maintenance and other work pertaining to the park, much of its financial issues can be reined in. "All adding a third party does is put it between us and a vendor."
City documents state the alternate proposal would initially keep the annual ground lease the same as it is now at $3,700 but impose increases at years three and five.
Other numbers in the proposal estimate a net cost increase to the two Western Hills groups of $2,769 annually, but the document also stresses the park's fields will be vastly improved due to the reinvigorated maintenance effort.
To make up revenues, the plan assumes an increase in annual park donations from $200 to $5,000, and the proposal states the Park Commission could play a key role in fundraising toward that end.
"Our review of the proposal submitted by Rollingwood Park Trust Inc. highlighted the role that community philanthropy could play to enhance and support our park—and the inadequacy of current programs to attract and support the significant philanthropic potential within our community," the proposal states.
Following the proposal from the Park Commission, council discussed creating another request for proposals for the operation, maintenance and ground lease of Rollingwood's athletic facilities, and will revisit the matter during the next regular meeting as well as at least one other opportunity for public input.