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Minneapolis Park Board Issues RFP for Phillips Community Center

Special to the Alley Newspaper by Robert Albee, Ventura Village Secretary

In its April 21st regularly scheduled Wednesday night meeting, the Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) seeking qualified partners to “add programming and services… compli-mentary to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board [MPRB].” The document issued by the Board is seeking to utilize “all the space available in the building for community use,” by tenants who have the resources to renovate or build out the space and provide income to offset building utilities and operating costs that include long term renovation needs. The Park Board is also seeking “a services provider with a strong interest in the community and a solid reputation for service.”

Reactions were mixed at a Monday, April 19th meeting called by the Park Board at Phillips’ Stewart Park. At that meeting, MPRB Commissioner Scott Vreeland read the RFP aloud to the assembled group of attendees. Several residents spoke out about the responsibility of the Park Board to serve all the people and not just the highest bidders. Others reminded the attending commissioners that there are 7,000 youth and children in Phillips which is far more than other better-served parks.
Robert Albee of Ventura Village spoke in favor of the RFP by saying that he appreciated having real guidelines publicly issued and the elimination of a single entity being expected to “take over” the facility and operate it. Having written many grants and proposals in the past, he said he relished the chance to help get the Phillips Community Center operating again in a sustainable way.
As approved and published, the following schedule was given:

April 21, 2010: Board approved release of the Phillips Community Center Request for Proposals
April 30, 2010: Request for Proposals released.
June 4, 2010 10 am to noon: Walk through at the facility for interested parties
July 9, 2010 at 4 P.M.: Proposals Due 2117 West River Road Minneapolis, MN 55411
To be scheduled in July and August, 2010: Proposal Presentations to Committee
August 18, 2010: Recommendations Presented to the Park Commissioners
September 1, 2010: Final Board Action
By October 1, 2010: Contract(s) Executed
During deliberations between MPRB commissioners, other parts of the RFP were discussed. Commissioner-At-Large and Vice President Annie Young raised concerns received in emails that language included in the document could be construed to give the Park Board free use of proposers ideas while rejecting their proposal. The passage read as follows: “All proposals become the property of the Board and the Board shall have the right to use all ideas, and/or adaptations of those ideas, contained in any proposal received in response to this RFP.” Although the next sentence suggested that materials marked confidential, proprietary, or trade secret would be exempted this seems to address another issue.

For example, if a proposer wants to install or operate a simulated bowling alley and other activities using popular Wii Fit hardware and software, the Park Board can reject that proposal and purchase its own equipment and offer that service, or find another vendor to provide that service even though the chosen vendor never proposed that idea originally. Given that the original proposer would use off-the-shelf hardware and software, there are no trade secrets contained in the proposal. Thus, the original proposer would have the feeling that their good idea was stolen and given to another proposer.

In preparing this report an effort was made to find the RFP online at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board website. Action was taken on 22 April 2010, but it is not posted. For a copy of the RFP please email me and I will send you one that I had gotten while it was in the proposal stage of approval. I believe that this document is the same as the approved and issued RFP. My email is ralbee4045@aol.com. Ask for the MPRB RFP of 22 April 2010. You can also call the Park Board at 612.230.6400 and ask for a copy of the document.

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