CEDAR LAKE | A South Carolina-based private company will provide Cedar Lake with parks and recreation programming.
The Town Council unanimously approved what was called a partnership with GenMove Inc., of Charleston, following a presentation by GenMove principal Steve Doniger.
Council member Robert Carnahan was absent from the meeting.
The council still has to approve a written contract with GenMove.
According to the agreement, the town will pay GenMove an amount not to exceed $132,500. The funding will come from the 2014 parks and recreation budget of $112,000, plus $20,000 the town included to cover contingencies. The extra $20,000 is drawn from the park nonreverting fund.
In return, GenMove will hire a local staff, identify and coordinate volunteers, create a community outreach and provide such programming opportunities as soccer, summer camp, seasonal events, computer classes and youth and senior programs, Doniger said.
The town will retain ownership and control of all park properties, facilities and equipment, and also remain responsible for their maintenance.
“We’re ready to go,” Doniger said prior to the vote.
“Our citizens expect high-quality services, and parks programming is no exception,” Council President Randy Niemeyer said in a prepared statement made available directly following the vote.
“Through this partnership with GenMove we believe that we will exceed the expectations of our residents by providing innovative, unique programs for all ages," the statement said.
Over the past three years, the town has dramatically restructured its parks and recreation program.
The Park Board was dissolved and park maintenance was transferred to the public works department. Park oversight was transferred to the Town Council. Longtime Parks Director Mary Joan Dickson was let go last year, and her position was eliminated.
Cedar Lake is GenMove’s first client in Lake County, but the company is providing programming for Valparaiso, Doniger said.
Town Council members described the new partnership as exciting and innovative, but some residents were skeptical.
Pamela Davenport and Rochelle Bernard wondered why GenMove had met with the town on several occasions over the past few months, but the negotiations were never made public or mentioned at council meetings.
Davenport said she attended three meetings with concerns about the lack of programming during the early winter months.
“I believe, as a citizen, when we come up and ask (about a subject), something should be said,” Davenport said.
Bernard did not like the idea of giving up local control.
“I believe in this town, and this makes me sad," she said.
Dickson's husband, Gordon, criticized the council's decision.
"You're going to (give programming responsibility) to someone who won't even be here," he said. "The parks director (was available) 24 hours a day, seven days a week."