Monday, February 22, 2010

Parkway Editorial

The recent editorial about the Parkway in the Sacramento Bee was excellent, and calling for an arrangement that the Effie Yeaw Nature Center—threatened with closure—could enter into that might replicate the success of Fairytale Town is a great idea.

The larger issue of Parkway funding is more complicated, but through governance by a Joint Powers Authority (JPA)—currently being discussed by the adjacent local governments—and for the JPA to then create a nonprofit organization to provide daily management and raise funds philanthropically, the funding problems for the Parkway could someday become a distant memory.

This strategy is something we have written about in several news releases posted on our website.

We have seen the ability of nonprofit organizations—such as the Central Park Conservancy in New York City—to manage parks and raise funds on a substantial scale for beloved community resources and it could well happen with the Parkway.

An excerpt from the Bee editorial.

“Like every department, Sacramento County parks is taking devastating cuts. The department needs $5 million to minimally operate its facilities, from the American River Parkway to Gibson Ranch to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

“Its budget now is less than $2 million.

“Despite a temporary three-month reprieve, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, a national model for outdoor education and habitat preservation in an urban area, remains threatened with closure. This icon, approaching its 30th anniversary next year, has provided nature tours, Maidu Indian programs, camps, school field trips, wildlife counts, birding classes, art workshops and live animal exhibits to thousands each year.

“The center already has suffered major cuts. Last August, it had 25 staff – five full-time and 20 part-time. With budget cuts, the center this year is down to six staff – four full-time and two part-time.

“Then came the announcement that the center would close April 1. After public outcry, the county Board of Supervisors gave the center a short reprieve, until July 1.

“What happens after July 1?

“The county parks department and the American River Natural History Association are working on a proposal to eliminate the center as a county park unit and transition to a nonprofit-run unit – like Fairytale Town in the city of Sacramento did after 38 years as a city-run organization. The city and Friends of Fairytale Town Inc. signed a partnership agreement on October 1, 1997.”