The city of Rollingwood will consider partnership with Rollingwood Park Trust, Inc. to lease, operate, maintain and improve designated athletic facilities within the city’s Hatley Park.
During the June 19 meeting, City Council heard a proposal from nonprofit corporations Rollingwood Park Trust, Inc., Western Hills Girls Softball Program Inc. and Western Hills Little League Inc.
The stated purpose according to the proposal is to provide youth sports activities and make improvements within the park and its five athletic fields located between Gentry and Wallis drives.
Following the proposal, council voted to authorize Mayor Michael Dyson to work with one of the three entities, Rollingwood Park Trust Inc., on a non-binding memorandum of understanding.
The memorandum will involve a framework of terms to be considered and developed by and in partnership with other entities, including the Rollingwood Park Commission. This would occur prior to authorizing the City Administrator Amber Lewis to negotiate a contract with Rollingwood Park Trust Inc.
“A large part of this, in my mind, ties into helping the park get to a place where it is … revenue-neutral,” Dyson said. “I don’t think anyone’s suggestion here is to turn it into a commercial enterprise.”
The scope of services include scheduling of practices and games for spring and fall sports seasons and an in-depth and routine park maintenance program.
The proposal also states Rollingwood Park Trust, Inc. would invest more than $100,000 over 12-36 months of the new agreement for capital repairs, replacements and improvements within the park.
Information from the proposal states the three nonprofits expect to incur $41,550 in annual operating costs, and during the presentation to City Council representatives from all three nonprofits said they expect minimal revenue through the project.
The proposal states upon entering of a master agreement with the city, the three entities would expand on historical revenue streams of the park with ideas such as a cafe and restaurant in its field house.
“There are a lot of revenue-generating options we could pursue,” Rollingwood Park Trust representative J.R. Kraft said, adding his group was willing to experiment with other ideas but still stay within the parameters set by the city.
Hatley Park is the figurative and literal heart of the city of Rollingwood, Dyson said. While there are many details to figure out, a deal with the three entities should ultimately be a benefit to the park and the city, he said.
Alderperson Sara Hutson said more work is needed along with more community outreach before an agreement is made.
“It feels like we are potentially relinquishing a lot of control, and that concerns me,” Hutson said.