E-DEMOCRACY | St. Paul: Public meeting about Conway Recreation Center privatization plan


From: Betsy Leach Date: Nov 12 17:05

Folks, we have a public meeting scheduled to let the residents voice their concerns about plans to privatize Conway Rec Center – it is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26 at 6:30p AT CONWAY…

This is the Monday after Thanksgiving and is only a very short time before the final budget decision is made.

We are inviting Parks administrators and our elected officials to attend.

We will also be needing folks to come down to city hall with us in December for the public hearing about the budget – not sure of the date yet but it will be a WEDNESDAY afternoon. We will also be delivering signatures.

Contact Betsy at 651.578.7600 or Ebony at 651.578.7400 for more info.

From: Ellen Biales Date: Nov 14 20:05

>From City Council President Kathy Lantry regarding the Conway Meeting:

I have been watching the conversations surrounding the re-purposing of the Conway Recreation Center and have spoken with a few neighbors about this change. I want to share some information with the District 1 list serve in the hope that we can have a broader conversation about the future of the rec. center and the services that will be provided there at the November 26th meeting.

First of all, I want to be clear that the recreation center and surrounding park will remain in the ownership of the city. The city is not “selling” the building or surrounding property to a private party and the city will remain in control of any partnership agreement that is developed.

Secondly, the re-purposing of the recreation center does not mean that all recreation programming for the neighborhood will disappear. In fact, it is the City’s goal to partner with a strong organization or organizations which can complement the activities that are offered at the center. Currently, the recreation center is only open to the public approximately 23 hours a week. With a partner organization, it would be our goal to maintain, or possibly increase, the number of hours that the facility would be open for neighborhood use. We are also anticipating that many of the groups that currently use the facility, such as our seniors group, local basketball teams, and community education programs would still continue to use the recreation center. The community garden would be allowed to continue. Sports teams may still be programmed for the surrounding fields. Partnership organizations may also provide other opportunities for activities that are not currently offered.

Our Parks and Recreation Department has been working for some time to develop a plan to move our current recreation system, which is heavily focused on facilities, into one that focuses on activities and capitalizes on partnerships with other organizations. In part, this is a response to increasingly limited resources, but it is also a recognition of how people participate in recreation activities today.

The Parks and Recreation Department has requested time with the District 1 Community Council and the surrounding community to discuss which services and activities are most important to the neighborhood and that should be maintained under any partnership agreement. Until now, the district council has not been willing to engage in that conversation.

I am hopeful that the meeting scheduled for November 26 will afford an opportunity to begin a discussion about what values and activities are important in any partnership agreement. Some of these criteria may include:

•How many hours should the rec. center be open to the public? •What are the best times for the center to be available for use? •What activities that are currently offered will continue to need space at the center (i.e. seniors, programs, local basketball leagues, tax assistance programs, etc.)? •What kinds of additional programming might be valuable (i.e. after school programs, youth groups, etc.)? •What uses take place in the park surrounding the rec. center that may need support (i.e. community garden, new play area, basketball court)?

I look forward to meeting with neighbors and beginning the conversation about how we can find a way forward that will best serve all of our District 1 community.

Kathy Lantry

From: Betsy Leach Date: Nov 14 20:14

With all due respect to Kathy Lantry, there has never been an analysis of just how privatization has impacted other neighborhoods. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the rec centers are NOT publicly available. We have asked that a moratorium on privatization be instated until such an analysis is completed.

Secondly, to say that district 1 has not been willing to converse with the city about this issue is a gross misrepresentation. The city NEVER came to the neighborhood to say this privatization was under consideration. We have NEVER been officially notified of that decision, even as of today. The neighborhood was NEVER asked to participate in a discussion of what was to happen to our rec centers. We were ONLY asked to join a conversation AFTER we ACCIDENTLY found out that Conway was slated for privatization.

Very poor form at the very least, and gross negligence on the part of the city at worst given that it is supposed to notify the district councils of matters that concern their areas.

This kind of stance from the city is NOT the way to start any kind of productive conversation.


From: Ashley Hay Date: Nov 14 20:26

As part of the community in District one and a Block Club leader of one of the neighborhood blocks, we have never been notified by the Parks and Rec people about this change. Betsy has been instrumental in letting me know know what has been going on and has made it clear that no one from P&R has made it a point to let our community know about this. The whole thing seems pretty shady and the people of this community do not deserve it. I expect better from my city that is suppose to serve us and to say that there has been no communication on the community or counsel’s part is a pretty big stretch of the truth and bullying.

From: Jonathan Carter Date: Nov 14 23:05

This all part of the Park and Recreation Systems Plan adopted in December of 2010. Conway is listed as becoming a Partner site in this plan. Not shady at all. Community meetings were held throughout the city and there was a great deal of response from specific east side groups worried about the closing of two other facilities.

The system plan as approved can be found on the city website at http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=3845.

Good luck with your challenge – nothing is ever written in stone since the residents are the owners but you have to remember funds are limited and if you keep this something else somewhere goes away.

Jonathan Carter

Mahtomedi – Formerly Payne-Phalen

From: jayne Lallier Date: 17:24

I have known Kathy Lantry for decades & she has alwaysbeen open & honest. I agree with Betsy the cityu needs to do better at communication with the district councils. Theresidents & district councils also need to doa better job of communicating with the city. As a former district 2 council chair I was involved in the 1st change with Sackett Rec center. This change to the boys & girls club did not go well.I believe the city & residents have improved the process. I am not in favor of a private organization non profit or not running our recreation centers. I believe this iswhere we should start the discussion, I believe the mayor & city council need to hear that we want changes to the budget so keeping Conway & other Rec centers are a higher priority in the budget. I urge all to attend the November 26 meeting I learned long ago voter’s prescence does count with elected officials.Remember the Mayor’s position is up for election in November 2013.

See thread here: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/stpaul-d1/messages/topic/4etHbBEth5UMCkMHOCTU1g

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