February 20, 2005
Open Comments for American River Parkway Stakeholder Summit: Saturday, February 26, 2005
I had RSVP’d to attend the meeting on Saturday but am unable to do so, however I still wanted to contribute some comments.
There was an article in the Bee this past Friday, Permanent funding remains elusive for river parkway, by Walt Wiley, that, once again brings attention to the still untold story of how ineffective management and elusive public leadership have brought our community’s greatest public natural resource to such a sad state.
Public leadership for the Parkway still remains elusive, and I applaud the efforts of the Coalition to continue as part of the emerging conversation about how to solve the problems we have gotten ourselves into regarding the Parkway.
The founding visionary thinking, strategic community initiative, and sound management, accompanying the beginning years of our Parkway is rightly praised, but since those early halcyon days, 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, the solution your group seems to be coalescing around through the plan being discussed in the aforementioned article, apart from increasing pressure on already over-burdened tax payers, is a poor funding option, and still doesn’t address the essential problem the Parkway has, which is the lack of dedicated funding and effective management
Raising taxes puts the money into a regional park pot, but still fails fulfilling the very necessary goal of providing separate and dedicated funding exclusively for the American River Parkway, and really does not even address management.
Using models operating throughout the country, the Parkway could be governed by a JPA, consisting of the government entities 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 possessing 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 more than meet the current needed maintenance requirements, exceeding what is now available solely through the County.
The conservancy, under contract to the JPA, could then contract with local fund raising counsel to build an endowment of $25 million, which could produce income to improve the Parkway while the JPA continues to provide funds to 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.
We would like to see this possible designation be called the Rivers of Red Gold National Heritage Area and would encourage your group to investigate the National Heritage Area program as it offers some interesting possibilities in relation to the Parkway.
Our strategy, which we consider a very viable and congruent array of ideas to move us forward, and one that does not include raising taxes, is available on our website, http://www.arpps.org/ .
Sacramento, meanwhile, continues seeking that elusive public leadership, and will continue to hope that your coalition can provide a thoughtful strategic direction for the community, one that relies on independent thinking, is generously collaborative with all public and private interests who play a role in building our community, and inclusive of all points of view.
Take care and have a good meeting.
David H. Lukenbill, President