Dear Vice Mayor and Commissioners –
I’m pleased that Tuesday’s regular meeting is set to discuss the design of the Community Park at TIES – a project on which we have been working since the first days of my time as Mayor, and Vice Mayor Wilmoth and Commissioner Strout’s time as well. Great progress is being made, and we can hope, if things go to plan, to be opening in the second half of next year a wonderful community asset, as yet another fruit of the diligence and labor of our commission and city staff.
As we carefully consider the design and costs, I want to be sure to update you on the progress in talks with the Argentine Football Federation (AFA) for potential support of the project.
In short, AFA would like to become our partner in providing youth recreation services to the community while potentially paying for the soccer improvements to the park in exchange for a to-be-negotiated partnership agreement. Any future agreement would be subject to Commission and some amount of School Board approval and would likely need to involve an expansion of the currently proposed hours of park usage to prevent detracting from community usage.
AFA has shared a deck outlining a long-term vision for a youth sports center that would double as a community center for NBV– also 100% paid for by AFA, with details still to be negotiated. That project is in the future and would essentially be a second phase of the agreement, if any, to begin with work on the sporting infrastructure of the park.
As previously noted, details of both field usage and any future community/sporting building are subject to future negotiation and completely subject to approval by the Commission. AFA has been made fully aware of that. Nothing has been agreed or can be agreed without future Commission approval.
However, with our pending decisions to move the park itself forward Tuesday night, we must also decide to some extent whether to pursue this option. AFA has committed, pending Commission approval, to provide its field team to work with our architects and consult gratis on the design of the sporting areas. If we can reach a partnership, they will then cover the costs of the potential sporting elements of the park – the multi-use field and rebuild of the tennis courts area into a multi-use sporting area (see attached letter from AFA).
In all, by covering the costs of the sporting areas and not considering any future building, this offer alone would be worth more than $1 million to the city. As outlined, what we give in exchange would be some access and use of the facilities — to be negotiated– in conjunction with an AFA-run sporting program for the school and local NBV youth. This potentially allows us to bring the cost of the park with the sporting facilities below the total $3.1 million bond issue, avoiding having to find other sources of funds while still providing robust sporting facilities to the community.
The decision we should make on Tuesday is whether to allow some period of time to pursue an agreement (perhaps 45 to 60 days) or to proceed now with that park without the partnership, either finding other funding tax-payer financed sources to close the funding gap, or cutting amenities by the corresponding amount.
I am happy to answer any questions in the “sunshine” on Tuesday night.
Mayor Brent Latham