Center decision based on proposals

Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Kenai City Council will vote on a measure in its meeting tonight that could reopen the Kenai Recreation Center.

The city received three responses to its Request For Qualifications, or RFQ, it advertised from Oct. 3 to 20 from groups interested in managing the rec center and Teen Center, which has been closed since July 10.

The city's administration re-viewed the responses, rated them and recommended the highest-ranking one for approval by the council. The council will vote on whether to award a facility management contract to the highest-ranked respondent, the Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula.

The responses to the RFQ came from the Boys and Girls Club, KAK Inc., doing business as Recreation Management Services, and Charles V. and Leonah S. Smalley, doing business as Body Masters and Smalley Enterprises, which was incorrectly named in a story that ran in Monday's Clarion.

A point system was used to evaluate and rank the responses to the RFQ. Each responder could receive 40 points for qualifications, 30 points for general operating philosophy, 20 points for probable approaches to the rec center and 10 points for other information. Four city administrators reviewed the responses. Each could award a total of 100 points to each response, so a total of 400 points was possible for each response.

The Boys and Girls Club received 383 points, Recreation Management Services received 316 points and Body Masters and Smalley Enter-prises received 45 points.

Both the club and Recreation Management Services submitted lengthy and thorough responses to the RFQ.

The club's qualifications hinged on its status as a respected nationwide organization with a history of providing recreation opportunities for kids locally and to adults in other communities through partnering with city parks and recreation departments.

"Our reputation is out biggest asset," wrote Tina Herford, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula, in her cover letter on the club's response to the RFQ. "The community relies on The Boys and Girls Club to provide well-run and affordable programs. It's a big responsibility and one that requires a high level of organization and efficiency.

The club's plans for enhancing and increasing usage of the facility include offering activities that target home-school students, offering community activities like karate and yoga classes and making changes to the Teen Center, including implementing some of the club's national programs, creating a "Tech Center" and "Internet Cafe," and starting a teen advisory board that would help shape policy and programs in the Teen Center.

However, the club also stressed in its response that the loyal group of rec center users and the programs they like are important, as well.

"The Boys and Girls Club is committed to listening to the community and using that input to make changes that make sense," stated the RFQ response.

The club estimated asking for a management fee of between $125,000 and $175,000, which was open to negotiation, and employing three full-time directors and eight part-time employees (two of whom would be teens) at the center.

Administrative support was proposed to be done by the club's existing administration and the club's athletic director would oversee the athletic leagues and other activities.

The Recreation Management Services (RMS) response was submitted by its president, Karen Kester. According to the response, Kester has more than 25 years of professional facility management experience, primarily with publicly-owned and operated facilities, including as the recreation director for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area.

RMS's plan for enhancing and increasing usage of the rec center included marketing existing year-round and seasonal programs, developing and marketing new regular indoor programs like after-work aerobic exercise and "pickup" basketball, develop and market new special programs like sports tournaments and training programs and continue and increase special teen events like dances.

Another tactic RMS listed in its response to increase usage of the facility is to rent or subcontract out time in some of the center's facilities, like the weight room and gym, to private health clubs, trainers or other private or organizations. (This was misstated in Monday's Clarion.)

RMS estimated requesting a management fee of $108,000 for the first year and hiring between three and a half and four full- and part-time employees.

The response submitted by Body Masters and Smalley Enterprises listed members of the organization's credentials, including more than 30 years of accumulated employment at the rec center, more than 16 years experience operating gyms and various personal training outlets, and the current operation of a multi-use recreation facility. The response did not include specifics on how they proposed to manage the rec center.

The council meets at 7 p.m. today at city hall, 210 Fidalgo Ave.

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