Last updated: May 21. 2014 4:12PM - 816 Views
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com

Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCity Councilmen Neal Strickland, left, and Steve Stefanovich asked to look further at a proposed policy for naming rights at City of Clinton recreation facilities. The matter will be revisited next month.
Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCity Councilmen Neal Strickland, left, and Steve Stefanovich asked to look further at a proposed policy for naming rights at City of Clinton recreation facilities. The matter will be revisited next month.
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A proposal to offer paid naming rights for City of Clinton recreation facilities — a measure expected to generate much-needed revenue in an area where renovations are imminent — was tabled this week so Council members could further hash out wording in the floated policy.

The group said they were pleased with the prospect of offering naming rights on a five-year basis for sums that range from $15,000 for a picnic shelter to $250,000 for Royal Lane Park itself, but asked for more time to peruse the proposal.

Recreation director Jonathan Allen presented the complete draft, recommended by the Recreation Advisory Board, to Council at a May 1 budget workshop. The matter was simply offered for members’ consideration at that time, but brought back at Tuesday’s night regular Council meeting for possible adoption.

“If you’re ready we can adopt it; we can adopt any changes you may recommend or if you want other changes or research, we can move from there,” city manager Shawn Purvis noted. “At any point, when you do decide to adopt a policy, Mr. Allen and myself would come back to Council when sponsorships were actually in place and would look at specific projects. At this point, it is just outlining how we would go about assigning these kind of projects.”

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. Those naming rights would potentially provide revenue to fund renovations and additions to city parks and amenities, Purvis said.

That revenue will be a boost toward paying expenses on the horizon.

An application for a $864,000 Parks & Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant is being received favorably at the state level, leading city staff to believe that Clinton will receive half the funding for the project, leaving the city with a $432,000 tab to be paid off over three years as part of the 50/50 match.

Specifically, the grant would pay for Royal Lane Park Phase 1A, which 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 that would encircle the park.

And that is just a fraction of a proposed $9 million Royal Lane Park makeover detailed in a master plan adopted last year.

Purvis said sponsorships would go hand in hand with grant funds toward renovating local recreation facilities.

“Once this is approved, if Council chooses to move forward with it, there may be more people than we realize that step up to say we want to pay for the soccer field or a baseball field,” Purvis said earlier this month. “We’ve got some great people and some great industries in Clinton, and there is a possibility that they help do some of those things.”

The city “permits private sponsorship of government programs or services in limited circumstances as a means to generate funds for improving or expanding those facilities and services” the proposed policy states. “The City of Clinton maintains its sponsorship programs as a nonpublic forum and exercises sole discretion over who is eligible to become a sponsor according to the terms of its policy.”

Whenever possible, according to the draft document, sponsorships should be linked to specific activities, events, programs or facilities. The city will not seek nor accept sponsors that manufacture products or take a position that is inconsistent with local, state or federal law or with the city’s policies, positions or resolutions.

Sponsorship agreements projected to generate $10,000 or more shall require the written approval of City Council, according to the proposed policy.

The proposed rates for naming rights, all for five-year periods, include: $50,000 for each baseball or soccer field; $250,000 for the recreational complex; $150,000 for the gymnasium; $35,000 for each leg of the walking trail; $25,000 for each playground; $25,000 for each set of regulation tennis courts; $12,500 for each set of the soon-to-be-constructed U8 tennis courts; and $15,000 for each picnic shelter.

Naming rights for benches would be at an annual $200 cost.

Councilman Neal Strickland shared his issues with some of the “verbiage” in the proposed policy, notably the cost incurred due to any vandalism of sponsor signs being shouldered by those sponsors. Strickland said he wanted to see that revisited.

“I don’t think it is the sponsor’s responsibility if it is vandalized,” he commented.

Purvis said the matter could be revisited, or modified immediately by staff for Council’s adoption. Councilman Steve Stefanovich asked for more time before taking a vote, but said he could go along with the Council if they chose to move immediately.

“I’d like to have a bit more time to digest it. I absolutely like the idea and think we are going in the right direction, I just haven’t digested the whole thing,” said Stefanovich. “I read it again last night as I did last week and I have maybe a few more questions.”

Strickland concurred, saying he had read over the policy a few times and wanted to examine it some more. Purvis said that would be fine. Mayor Lew Starling said waiting would also allow Councilwoman Maxine Harris, absent from Tuesday’s meeting, to be present for any further discussion.

“We want to vet it and we want to get it right,” Purvis asserted. “It’s not an immediate rush but it’s going to be tied to specified projects. This potentially means a lot of money on either side.”

Strickland said he felt the policy was “a great idea” and Stefanovich praised Allen and city staff for their work in putting the policy together.

“He’s done a lot of work on this, a lot of studying this — it absolutely is the thing to do, I just have a few more things I’d like to look at,” Stefanovich said.

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

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