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Should a private group dominate public programs?

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor

Will the city’s Parks and Recreation Department become privatized soon? After a Dec. 10 presentation to city commis-sioners by Sports Facility Advisory LLC, of Clearwater Fla., it would seem that many of the decisions normally made by the Park and Recreation Advisory Board and Park and Rec staff may be taken care of for the next generation.

The SFA advisory firm was hired by the local Fieldhouse Group for $100,000.  Fieldhouse used $50,000 in taxpayer money and $50,000 in private donations.  SFA presented a survey and a plan for major reconstruction of parks and recreation buildings, facilities, events and expend-itures, essentially focusing on tournament revenues and econo-mic development strategies. Price for the project: $54 million to build and another $65 million operational costs over the next 25 years ($120 million plus).

Plundering Park and Rec funds for economic development is an age-old game, but the new possibility of a special interest group dominating major and irreversible changes in our Parks and Rec programs raises some serious concerns. Our Parks and Rec programs have always been for the many, not for the few. Maybe we need to ask the many what they want (a survey by our local Park and Recreation Department, please).

We did learn a new phrase from the presentation: pro forma. According to Webster’s Diction-ary, it means done or existing as something that is usual or required but that has little true meaning or importance.

Steve Pfister
1908 Tulip Terrace

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