Last updated: July 16. 2014 3:08PM - 487 Views
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com



Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCity Recreation director Jonathan Allen speaks during a recent Council meeting. He expressed disappointment over an unsuccessful grant application for Royal Lane Park this week, but vowed the city would press forward. With no grant, a recently-adopted naming rights policy for rec amenities will be delayed in its implementation.
Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCity Recreation director Jonathan Allen speaks during a recent Council meeting. He expressed disappointment over an unsuccessful grant application for Royal Lane Park this week, but vowed the city would press forward. With no grant, a recently-adopted naming rights policy for rec amenities will be delayed in its implementation.
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Now that a grant that would have paid in excess of $400,000 for upgraded City of Clinton recreation amenities has gone by the wayside, an adopted naming rights policy for the city’s facilities is in a holding pattern — at least for now.


City manager Shawn Purvis said he sees the two going hand-in-hand, with sponsorship money being put toward the cost of renovations so local entities can get recognition and rec facilities can enjoy a long life. However, the first chunk of money to get that process started was anticipated to be a 50/50 matching N.C. Parks & Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant, which the city did not receive. That notification came late last week.


Up until that point, the city was believed to be a shoo-in for a $864,000 PARTF grant, of which half — $432,000 — would be a local obligation, but its Royal Lane Park Phase 1A was not included in the final list of 18 projects that split a $4 million total allocation.


Purvis said not receiving the grant would likely affect the naming rights policy, at least for the short term, as the city does not want to solicit sponsors to fork over funds when a project to improve those facilities is not in the works.


“That way they are going to see a more immediate impact for their money,” Purvis remarked. “We’re not trying to piecemeal it.”


With news of the unsuccessful grant application, the City Council will be considering its options going forward.


While words like “perplexed,” “disappointed” and “frustrated” were used by Purvis and Recreation director Jonathan Allen to describe their feelings toward being passed over by the PARTF program, the two have cited the naming rights policy, adopted July 1, as a positive way to grow a community haven while honoring those who give to make it a better place.


Purvis said paid sponsorships in return for naming rights would allow sponsors to put their name up in lights and the city to net needed revenue to pay for those upgraded amenities.


“It helps us secure the funding for 50 percent of the project,” Purvis said.


Subject to further discussion at this point, Phase 1A currently includes overhauling two basketball courts, configuring four smaller U10 tennis courts, upgrading the playground area and beginning construction on a 2-mile paved walking trail. The soccer complex and baseball fields are also being eyed for significant upgrades, but were not part of the Phase 1A PARTF grant application.


“That’s not to say that if we had a lot of people who approached the city and wanted to pay for the soccer complex or something else that we would not consider that,” Purvis pointed out.


City Council would take that under advisement as it would any other private donation. City staff would likely have limited, if any, involvement in discussions with sponsors. It is not an open bidding process, Purvis noted.


“We’ll discuss it with the Recreation Advisory Board,” he said of sponsor inquiries, “but I don’t expect staff to go out and speak with (potential sponsors). That is something that citizens, Council members and Rec Advisory Board members would do. If there are people who want to give to the community in some way, we want them to do it because that is what they want to do. It is not an extension of taxes so staff would not be involved in (soliciting).”


The goal of the naming rights was to give the public a chance — both individuals and local business and industry — to be a part of all of the some $9 million in Royal Lane Park renovations encompassed in a master plan.


“Some people want to give a lot but they can’t give a lot,” said Purvis. “(The policy aims) to give everybody an opportunity.”


The policy formalizes the process and monetary amounts associated with the naming of recreational facilities such as fields, playgrounds, courts and smaller amenities such as picnic shelters and even benches. According to the policy, the cost of naming rights is to be paid over a period of eight years and, as long as those requirements are met, the rights will be owned for the lifetime of the facility. Additionally, there will be a 10 percent discount on the fee if the sum is made in full up front.


According to the policy, the cost of naming rights, all to be paid over a period of eight years, include: $80,000 for each baseball or soccer field; $95,000 for the main (stadium) baseball field; $100,000 for the main soccer field; $250,000 for the baseball complex; $200,000 for the soccer complex; $160,000 for the gymnasium; $30,000 for each leg of the walking trail; $25,000 for each playground; $20,000 for each set of two regulation tennis courts; $16,000 for each picnic shelter; and $15,000 for each set of four U8 tennis courts to be constructed.


Purvis and Allen first presented the naming rights proposal to Council at a May 1 budget workshop. The matter was brought back during several subsequent meetings over the past two months, with some concerns raised and tweaks made, before finally being adopted at the Council’s July 1 meeting.


While some of the amounts are large, Purvis said that, down the road, other smaller costs could be incorporated such as $100 for a brick at a new soccer pavilion.


“Anyone who wants to improve recreation and the quality of life in their community will have a chance,” the city manager remarked. “We didn’t want anyone to feel like they’re excluded.”


Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.


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