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- 2013 - December - 12th -
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The City is looking for a group to operate and manage Hemming Plaza.

Lone pitch to run Hemming would cost city $765,000

By Max Marbut, Staff Writer

The only plan submitted for the Request for Proposals to operate and manage Hemming Plaza has a first-year budget of $915,000 – with $765,000 coming from the city.

City Council President Bill Gulliford said this morning he needs to study the plan, but the money needed from the city is "a little disconcerting."

"We'll need to take a hard look at it. I don't know where (even) $250,000 would come from," he said.

The proposal said the group — Friends of Hemming Plaza — anticipates it can raise $150,000 the first year.

The group is led by a five-member board of directors: Wayne Wood, who will be the chair; Terry Lorince, executive director of Downtown Vision Inc.; Diane Brunet-Garcia, chair of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville; Vince Cavin, director of operations and finance of the One Spark crowdfunding festival; and Bill Prescott, principal of Heritage Capital Group, as its members.

The group anticipates creating nine jobs, including a director, who is paid $60,000; an operations manager with a salary of $40,000; and an administrative support and a volunteer coordinator with salaries of $35,000 each.

The five remaining positions would employed by DVI, including two cleaning and beautification positions ($12.52/hour), two safety/hospitality positions ($12.93/hour) and a social services outreach specialist ($22.32/hour).

The proposal states that staff members of Friends of Hemming Plaza and the staff members of partner agencies have "extensive experience with the kind of public space management, programming and event planning that are critical to the success of Hemming Plaza."

The partner organizations listed are DVI and the Cultural Council.

"We feel like we have a dream team," Wood said Wednesday.

The proposal praises "DVI's breadth of experience in the cleanliness, safety, activation and promotion of Downtown over its twelve-year history aligns with the needs of Hemming Plaza today."

The proposal also references the Downtown Ambassador program, which DVI provides through a third party, Block by Block.

"The Downtown Ambassador skill set will translate well into providing clean and safe services to Hemming Plaza, and allow the Friends of Hemming Park to leverage the existing staff of 11 Ambassadors and their Operations Manager," according to the proposal.

The Cultural Council's role will be to "draw on extensive contacts" with arts organizations to schedule programming in Hemming Plaza.

The proposal said the group will first establish a regular schedule of "small-scale, daily activities … that will make Hemming Plaza a daily destination."

The second component is to market and program the park for "regular large-scale events and festivals that could, for example, tie in with cultural pride weeks/months," the proposal says.

The group anticipates that funding for the management of Hemming Plaza would come from the city, grants, sponsorships, user fees, concessionaire revenues and in-kind donations.

Asked how confident he is that the city will find $765,000 to begin the Hemming Plaza project, Wood said he realizes it will be expensive.

"If they want it to be done, they will find a way to do it. It's a small drop in the bucket compared to the benefit to the city. It's a bargain," he said.

Gulliford described it differently: "It may be a champagne budget that we may need to drop back to a beer budget. It's a starting point. Now we'll get into negotiations."

City Director of Procurement Greg Pease said Wednesday the proposal will be reviewed for responsiveness to the request and then validated.

Then, because there were fewer than three proposals submitted, policy requires the city Parks & Recreation Department to evaluate the proposal and possibly recommend that the single proposal be considered by the city Professional Services Evaluation Committee.

Part of the evaluation will be to determine why only one entity responded to the Request for Proposal. When the City first sought proposals for Hemming Plaza, it received no submissions.

Pease said Parks & Recreation could conceivably appear before the committee with a recommendation whether to consider the proposal as soon as Dec. 19.

Proposal highlights

• First-year budget would be $915,000; $765,000 would come from the city.

• Group would hire nine-person staff, including a director ($60,000), operations manager ($40,000) and volunteer coordinator ($35,000).

• Board includes Wayne Wood, DVI executive director Terry Lorince and Diane Brunet-Garcia, chair of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

• Group would first set-up small-scale daily activities, then focus on larger festivals and other events.

mmarbut@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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