looking for partners to take on parks
EVERETT — The city is offering private groups the chance to lease and sponsor almost its entire portfolio of parks properties.
It would raise money, but parks director Bob Leonard said the city’s call for ideas could also add new types of recreation. It could be seen as matchmaking parks spaces with businesses.
“We’re really excited to see what the public comes up with,” Leonard said.
What the city is looking for are ideas that benefit both the community and the city which someone can feasibly do at a park property.
For example, the city suggests in its call for bids that a metal dome at Thornton A. Sullivan Park currently could convert into a spot for drone racing or indoor tennis.
The Animal Farm’s barn and pen setup in Forest Park is listed as both a farm operation possibility and a redevelopment opportunity. The greenhouse at Legion Park is currently unused and up for rejuvenation.
The rooms inside the Carl Gipson Senior Center are on the list. The city wrote in budget materials that it would like it to reopen the Carl Gipson as an independently funded center that doesn’t use city dollars.
“We would love to partner with someone for senior services,” Leonard said in an interview.
The city appears open to someone taking over its annual Sorticulture garden art festival at Legion Park.
Sponsorship opportunities are for the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show, or placing signage at Kasch Park.
Sponsorship naming rights are available for the Everett Performing Arts Center and the Everett Animal Shelter.
There aren’t restrictive limits for the proposals for the properties managed by the parks and recreation department, but it’s not a free-for-all.
“Just because we’re soliciting proposals doesn’t mean we’ll take all proposals,” Leonard said.
The city intends to do annual calls for bids to see if bigger ideas can be built up in the coming years, city purchasing manager Theresa Bauccio-Teschlog said.
“To us, it’s the beginning of future conversations,” Bauccio-Teschlog said in an interview.
Groups will be allowed to make land improvements at their own cost. Once a contract concludes, the city won’t be paying off their partner for the site improvements.
Any revenue for the city from these partnerships would go to the city’s general fund for day-to-day expenses, except for activities at the golf courses. The golf courses run on their own and do not take money from the city coffers.
The City Council authorized sending the request for proposals last week. On Friday, Aug. 14, the call for ideas went out to 150 or so nonprofits and community groups, city purchasing manager Theresa Bauccio-Teschlog said.
They are looking for more people who they didn’t reach.
Proposals are due Oct. 6, and the city hopes to get contracts lined up by Jan. 1, 2021. The City Council has the final say on approving any contracts.
The city is holding site visits on Sept. 2 and Sept. 10.
It’s a first for Everett, but not unprecedented. Right in Everett’s backyard, Snohomish County is doing a private-public partnership at Paine Field with a ropes course, assistant parks director Kim Shelton said.
One of the few parks properties not up for offer is the historic Van Valey House at 2130 Colby Ave. Betty and Ed Morrow donated their historic home to the city in 2002, and it’s currently being discussed about its fate. It was being used as a city meeting space until COVID-19’s in-person restrictions.
“We do believe there is a different model” for it, and one option might be to sell it, city executive director Lori Cummings told the City Council last week.
Any new ventures would not add liability to the city, Bauccio-Teschlog said, because the partners would be required to have set levels of insurance and name the city as an insured member.
The contracts won’t be immediate: Before reaching the City Council, numerous layers of city government would take a look first.
Sponsorships would go through the city’s public places naming policy.
The city does not plan to give away any of its intellectual property together with partnering with groups to run events, Leonard said at last week’s City Council meeting.
This question was centered around Sorticulture, an annual event the city has cultivated for 22 years.
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