At Tuesday’s Richmond Parks and Recreation Board meeting, the topic of the all-inclusive playground project was discussed once more and the board debated moving forward alone with the project.
Last Tuesday, the Richmond City Commission signed Order 19-32, which gave the go-ahead for the project to begin, with an agreement attached. The agreement gave some guidelines that the commission needs the organization to follow, and requires a signature of Crimson Claycomb, the CEO/founder of the organization Kendyl and Friends. Something that she is yet to give.
One of the stipulations in the agreement was that the project’s construction go out to bid, in order to make it fair and ensure the city stayed within city procurement guidelines.
Claycomb stated she could not bid out the project because her nonprofit has an exclusive contract with Miracle Playgrounds, a playground company based out of Tennessee.
City Manager Rob Minerich stated at the parks meeting that he requested a copy of the contract in the efforts to make a concession with the Miracle Playground company, in the hopes that they may be able to move forward.
Claycomb checked with her attorney in regards to obtaining a copy of the contract, and she was advised that because the contract with the playground company is exclusive, that she couldn’t provide a copy.
Minerich stated that the city was also to receive grant information from Claycomb last week for Mayor Robert Blythe to sign, but Claycomb said she couldn’t move forward with the grant because a specific designation for the playground had not been determined.
In the agreement, three different locations were discussed, but in order to meet the April 1 grant deadline, Minerich determined Irvine McDowell Park as the sole location for the playground.
At which point, according to the city manager, Claycomb then stated there were additional documents and information that the city needed to fill out before filling the grant application, which Minerich encouraged her to pass on.
As of last Friday, the city had not received this information of the necessary documents. The grant was due Monday.
“Erin and I have discussed this, and we have spent a lot of time on this last week sorting through this getting it ready for the commission and the fall out afterwards,” Minerich said. “We feel like at this point in time, the parks department had plans to do this anyway, that we move forward on our own — is the way that we look at it.”
“If she won’t sign the agreement, which is pretty straightforward, we feel that we just need to move forward as a parks department and build the playground.”
Minerich said that an all-inclusive playground was a part of the park’s department master plan already.
“I want to make sure that we understand that Richmond is one of the first communities to do an ADA accessible playground, we host the Special Olympics every year, so we aren’t a community in second place doing this stuff. I think that is important for the media to understand,” Minerich said.
“We are definitely in favor of an all-inclusive playground,” said Erin Moore, director of recreation administration.
“There were enough concerns,I ‘ll put it that way,” Blythe added. “Even when that came from here, and then when it came to our desk, there were enough concerns on my part, I am not speaking for anyone else, that made me uneasy in moving forward, and then the surprises that kept coming up.”
Blythe said he knew the public sentiment was that citizens wanted it.
“I was hoping that no one was playing us against the public, by making us perhaps appear that we didn’t want to do it, that wasn’t the case at all,” he said. “So I was happy that the city manager said moved forward and said that we can afford to do this, the parks department.”
Upon contacting The Register, Claycomb stated that all grant information required was submitted to the city with specific deadlines needed to proceed with the grant. In regards to the city’s agreement that Claycomb was initially sent and requested to sign, she stated there were several points within which they could not legally comply.
• • •
During the Fourth of July update, board member Dan McBride questioned whether or not the board had given discussion to no longer charging people to come to the annual celebration at Lake Reba.
“Years ago, we didn’t use to charge you know,” McBride said. “When the city started going through tough financial times, I believe we started charging people. But has there been any discussion now that we are on more stable financial grounds to stop charging people?
McBride went on and said that a lot of taxpayers don’t always utilize the services that their taxes go to, and that having an event like this that was free to the public, would be something nice for the city to do.
In admissions, the parks board collects around $12,000 from the event.
Richmond City Commissioner Mike Brewer agreed with McBride stating the event should be free.
“I feel like you are charging people to celebrate the fourth of July, I have always said that,” Brewer said.
Fireworks for the event cost the board $22,500 for an 18-minute show, with a four minute finale. The stage costs approximately $7,000.
The board will discuss the admission fee at the parks meeting next month.
• • •
In other business, the parks board gave approval to begin the construction of a dog park at E.C Million Park.
“One of the things we have wanted to do in the past is have more dog parks,” Moore said.
Minerich said that he brought up the idea of a downtown dog park after receiving a lot of calls about the want for a dog park in that area.
In talking with Joe Bentley, both he as well as Minerich determined a good spot for the park would be the where the old tennis courts were located at Million Park.
“It looks like great space,” Minerich said.
Bentley, who has met with a fencing contractor, said that a fence would be a little under $7,000 which is available in the grounds capital outlay budget.
The next Richmond Parks and Recreation Board meeting will be held May 7, 12 p.m. at Irivinton House.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.