Friday, May 14, 2010

ARPPS Letter Published in the Sacramento Bee Today

Let nonprofit run parkway

Re "Give a little love to our local parks" (Editorial, May 11): While the idea of adequately funding the American River Parkway and other regional parks resonates with many in the region, the idea of increasing taxes, as called for in a Bee editorial, on an already overtaxed population does not.

There is a better way to raise money for the American River Parkway. What many jurisdictions have done to help their signature parks is convert to nonprofit daily management and philanthropic fundraising, under contract to local government park ownership. This model has worked very well in New York City and Pittsburgh.

The advantages are many, besides the obvious one of not raising taxes. The funds raised by the park nonprofit are safe from the type of government fund-shifting common during periods of economic stress. Philanthropic fundraising allows for parkway enhancements we have not seen in years as the county has been running a substantial shortfall for basic maintenance funding for the parkway.

The strategy we favor is to have the parkway-adjacent cities and the county form a joint powers authority for governance and core funding. The JPA would then create a nonprofit organization, which contracts with the JPA for daily management and supplemental fundraising for the parkway.

– David H. Lukenbill, Sacramento, senior policy director, American River Parkway Preservation Society