After months of deadlines missed, at noon Wednesday, the Parks Department ceased negotiations with Donnie Nelson’s Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment LLC. “Negotiation” isn’t the correct word as it conjures two sides working on a deal – a stage this deal never seemed to arrive at.
City attorneys are saying the next steps for the unconsummated deal will be for Parks board and City Council to officially vote to kill the un-deal at their respective upcoming meetings. (Read Park Director John Jenkins’ memo here.)
I’m going to say the deal is dead.
President of the Parks Board, Calvert Collins-Bratton, who had previously supported the deal seems to have had enough:
“If there is no signature [by Wednesday’s deadline], then Park Department staff will cease all negotiations.”
Collins Bratton continued, “I always support neighborhood input, and would welcome any neighbors or community members to work with the Park Department and Board at ways to enhance the park, whether through private dollars, unspent bond dollars, or volunteer time.”
Now eight councilmembers support the neighborhood’s effort to revitalize the Reverchon Park ballfield. In addition to the four who never supported the deal, my prior article quoted flipped councilmembers Paula Blackmon and Chad West, as well as David Blewett, who had voted in favor of the deal in January.
After a conversation with District 13’s Jennifer Gates, she becomes the eighth councilmember supporting the neighborhood option. “I support allowing the neighborhood to raise the funds to refurbish the ballfield, but we also need funding options that provide for its ongoing maintenance.” Gates told me in a conversation.
District 2 councilmember Adam Medrano said that he always supported a neighborhood option, “The community never supported the private takeover of their public park,” he said, “It’s encouraging to see that Blewett has reversed his position. Better late than never.”
Fundraising Starts with Homerun
Speaking with councilmember Blewett, with the Park’s Department’s aid, he’s identified some $300,000 remaining from the 2006 citywide bond package. Add to that $100,000 in discretionary monies under his control and Day One there’s over $400,000 to get the job started. Expect this to grow in the coming weeks.
Blewett told me that in order for neighborhood contributions to be ear-marked for Reverchon, a 501(c)(3) non-profit group must open an account with the Dallas Parks Foundation. The foundation has a bunch of public funding accounts supporting specific park projects across the city.
To that end, I spoke with representatives of the Defend Reverchon Park fund that was started to fight development about changing their name/purpose. Since they were already set up at the 501(c)(3) accredited Dallas Foundation, they could be the bucket neighbors donate to. They jumped on the renaming/re-purposing of that fund and immediately filed forms for an account with the Dallas Parks Foundation. Not bad for 24 hours.
These two actions provide a tax deductible pot for donations to pour into and an account at the city to channel those monies towards restoring and maintaining Reverchon Park’s ballfield.
In my last column, Former Trammel Crow CEO Don Williams said:
“When this deal is dead, the neighborhood is ready to raise funds for the restoration of the Reverchon Park ballfield, matching City bond funds already appropriated for Reverchon Park – it’s what’s right for the park and the neighborhood.”
In short order, there is already strong financial backing for restoring the ballfield. But it will take more to win the day. Additional monies will need to be raised.
Once the official buckets and entities are operational, we will post links and information here.
Some of those monies will go towards maintenance. One thought Blewett had was to sell signage or concession rights in the park as a recurring revenue stream for ballfield maintenance. Maybe Coke or Pepsi is tired of Dr Pepper having all the fun with the RoughRiders up in Frisco?
A change since January, Blewett is very committed to making the “neighborhood option” a success.
Casting Off Friends of Reverchon Park
These public and private pots of money are critical to the renovation and maintenance of Reverchon Park. They also sidestep the Friends of Reverchon Park, which led the charge with the Parks Department that resulted in the two oversized, unsuccessful RFPs. There’s also the matter of their giving away nearly $200,000 in donations to Trinity organizations instead of spending it on Reverchon (one presumes donors to “Friends of Reverchon Park” wanted their monies spent there).
The City Won
The RFP was bad. Five-times the size with 30 onsite parking spaces for events reaching 5,000 attendees? Jeez.
The city would have also lost control of a public park for 40 years for ultimately not much money.
The neighborhood option of restoring the ballfield, while maintaining control of a continued public asset, that can ultimately self-fund itself is just better.
The Neighborhood Won, Too
It took a lot of nail-biting and patience … plus a lawsuit, but the neighborhood looks to be getting the solution it has wanted all along – not just for Reverchon Park, but in their councilmember as well.
I’ll let Collins-Bratton end this column:
“I sincerely doubt a third RFP will be issued …”