Recent conversations about the YMCA’s handling of Delaware’s recreational services has led to consideration of the city taking back control of those services. During Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council, an ordinance was introduced that would enter the city into a contract with PROS Consulting to dive deeper into all the details associated with the city potentially re-establishing its Recreation Department.
“This really gives us the ability to step back and take a look at our recreational programming, currently how it is being handled, taking a look at its future, taking a look at our facilities,” City Manager Tom Homan said of a potential agreement with PROS.
If agreed upon, PROS would initiate a two-phase analysis of the city’s needs in regard to recreational services and the development of a Master Plan, which would include assessment of what the city’s current position would allow for, as well as funding and revenue strategies.
Homan said the first step is conducting a “needs assessment,” which he said will include a “statistically valid and reliable” community survey that will “provide city council and the community feedback about the utilization of recreational programs, what programs are being utilized, what residents are interested in seeing, what they might not be interested in seeing.”
Homan said it will help the city in framing the discussion about whether the YMCA will continue to control recreational programs or if the city will take back those services.
Asked how many residents will be surveyed, Homan said around 4,360 residents need to be included for the survey to be statistically valid. The surveys would be a combination of telephone, mail, and online surveys.
The total cost of the agreement would be $74,960; $44,360 for the needs assessment in phase one and $30,600 for the Master Plan development in phase two. The funding would be split between the Parks Impact Fee Fund and the Park Exaction Fund.
Several council members said they were surprised to see the total cost of the agreement, and they seemed hesitant to agree to it. Homan said the contract with PROS can be written so that the first phase needs assessment is conducted and the second phase will only be done after those results are discussed and the need for the second phase can be better analyzed and agreed upon.
Homan did caution council that the city’s current agreement with the YMCA for recreational services only extends through 2020, and if the city is going to take back those services, the work needs to start as soon as possible.
“If council says we’re going to transition and we’re going to re-establish our Recreation Department, we need to know that now,” Homan said. “Re-establishing a department, you don’t just go to Amazon and get a Recreation Department. It’s a big operation.”
The ordinance was sent to a second reading so that council can further analyze the costs and value of the overall agreement that has been proposed. That reading should be held at council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will meet Tuesday, Sept. 17, when it will further discuss the city’s agreement with the YMCA and the proposed contract with PROS.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.