Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Elusive Leadership

February 20, 2005

Letter to the Editor of the Sacramento Bee

Re: Permanent funding remains elusive for river parkway.
by Walt Wiley, Bee Staff Writer, Friday February 18, 2005

Public leadership for the Parkway also remains elusive:

The article once again brings attention to the untold story of how ineffective management and elusive public leadership have brought our community’s greatest public natural resource to such a sad state.

The founding visionary thinking, strategic community initiative, and sound management, accompanying the beginning years of our Parkway is rightly praised, but since then, all three have been elusive.

While other regions of the country are using Joint Powers Authority’s (JPA), nonprofit conservancies, and endowments to govern, manage, and fund their natural heritage, Sacramento appears to be allowing theirs to fall into ruin.

Raising taxes, apart from increasing pressure on already over-burdened tax payers, is a poor option, and doesn’t address the essential problem the Parkway has, which is the lack of dedicated funding and effective management.

Raising taxes, though the plan being discussed, puts the money into a regional park pot, but still fails the needed goal of separate and dedicated funding exclusively for the American River Parkway.

Using models operating throughout the country, the Parkway could be governed by a JPA of Sacramento County, the City of Sacramento, and Rancho Cordova. Management could be contracted out to a public nonprofit conservancy, which would be a public benefit 501 c (3) nonprofit corporation, subject to public oversight, but more responsive and capable of effective daily management, as well as the tax exemption and community accountability necessary for endowment building.

Through a JPA, if Sacramento County can continue paying $4 million annually, with Sacramento and Rancho Cordova contributing $1.5 million each, that will meet the current needed maintenance needs, exceeding what is now available, while the conservancy contracts with local fund raising counsel to build an endowment of $25 million, which could produce income to improve the Parkway while the JPA funds maintain it.

The Parkway, because of its national historic value, is also a candidate for designation as a National Heritage Area, which could free up federal funding and support during the endowment building period.

A viable strategy, that does not include raising taxes, is available on our website, www.arpps.org .

Sacramento, meanwhile, continues seeking that elusive public leadership.


David H. Lukenbill, President
American River Parkway Preservation Society