The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy (RFKGC) presented its 5 Year Business Plan at a Tuesday night meeting, strongly countering the notion that the Greenway parks can be managed without public funding from the State. Instead, the private non-profit presented a plan to significantly grow annual revenues by $2 million to over $6.5 million while gradually reducing the State’s contribution from $2.1 million in fiscal 2013 to a maintenance level of $1.2 million in fiscal 2018.
The Greenway Conservancy plan is dependent on renewed private fundraising efforts and a voluntary tax on neighboring property and business owners as part of a Business Improvement District (BID). The prospect of “earned income” was also discussed through sponsored commercial events, corporate naming rights or new facilities such as a skating rink.
MassDOT Deputy Director of Planning, Clinton Bench, spoke at the meeting saying that MassDOT does not intend to “walk away from the Greenway” (1:11:00 in the video). However, Secretary Davey’s charge is clear “to bring funding to zero” (1:22:40 in the video). The 5-year plan does not satisfy the request of MassDOT Secretary Davey to “identify adequate resources … to maintain and program a world class park” assuming “an annual decrease in State support (to) zero State support in FY18.”
To develop its plan, the Conservancy hired three consultants to provide a fundraising assessment (Technical Development Corp.), executive salary survey (Collins Group) and solicit public input (Howard/Stein Hudson Associates). Public input came from an early Summer 2012 survey with 338 responses. The funding assessment presented at the meeting identified the following:
- Charitable Contributions and BID Support – Reduction or removal of funding from the State is likely to trigger declines in support from charitable contributors. Potential BID participants are clear that a BID formation is contingent upon State funding.
- Earned Income – The Conservancy can increase revenue through earned income sources (i.e., commercial events, fee-paying facilities or corporate naming rights).
- Endowment ($14.5 million currently) – Raising its endowment is not viable now. The Conservancy would need a larger donor base, potentially as part of a campaign with capital improvements.
In conclusion, the Greenway Conservancy will submit a plan on July 31, 2012 indicating:
- State support cannot go to zero … this will affect a downward spiral. No money = No mission.
- MassDOT can lower its direct funding under the following conditions: More contributions AND BID funds AND more earned income.
Georgia Murray, RFKGC Chair, answered the question of what happens if the State funding goes away. “If the Conservancy cannot pull off the BID and increased philanthropy,” she said, “then we would have to turn the parks back over to the State, which has no money.”
A preliminary review of executive compensation at the Greenway Conservancy was also presented, as requested by MassDOT. The RFKGC contracted the Collins Center which found that the non-profit’s compensation is “right in the middle” of comparable organizations.
In other business, the RFKGC approved its fiscal 2013 budget that is relatively level with last year at $4.5 million. The Work Inc. maintenance contract was also renewed for approximately $520,000.
The Friends of the North End Parks also announced the formation of a non-profit group to advocate on behalf of Greenway Parcels 8 and 10 (1:33:00 in the video).
There was no mention at the meeting of pending State legislation that recently passed the House reforming the governance of the Greenway Conservancy. Such legislation would increase transparency and neighborhood representation on the RFKGC Board of Directors.
View the full presentation and discussion on these issues in the attached video which is indexed in this post so you can jump to relevant sections.
Greenway Conservancy Meeeting
July 24, 2012, 185 Kneeland St., Boston
00:00 Welcome and Review of Agenda by RFKGC Chair Georgia Murray
01:50 FY2012 Review, RFKGC Dir. of Business Operations, Jesse Brackenbury
09:45 FY2013 Goals and Budget, RFKGC Dir. of Business Operations, Jesse Brackenbury
13:50 Work Inc. Contract Renewal (~$520,000) , RFKGC Dir. of Operations, Steve Anderson
20:50 5-Year Business Plan – RFKGC Chair Georgia Murray and Exec. Dir. Nancy Brennan
38:00 Funding Assessment and Conclusions (Charitable Contributions, BID Support, Earned Income)
43:30 Revenue Plan FY14-FY18
49:00 Expense Plan FY14-FY18
52:30 Conditions for non-governmental revenue (More contributions and more net earned income)
55:00 Executive Compensation Review
56:40 Beneficiaries of the Greenway Parks
1:02:30 Board Discussion of the 5-Year Business Plan
1:07:00 Discussion of how comparable parks are funded
1:11:00 and 1:22:40 MassDOT Deputy Director of Planning, Clinton Bench comments on the RFKGC plan
1:19:00 Tom Powers, Boston Harbor Islands Alliance comments
1:27:00 Vivien Li, Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association comments
1:33:00 Nathan Swain, President of Friends of the North End Parks – Announcement of New Group for Greenway Parcels 8 and 10
1:38:00 Bud Ris, New England Aquarium comments
1:40:00 Further Discussion and Comments on the 5-Year Business Plan
1:48:00 Executive Director’s Report – Nancy Brennan
- Public Art Update – Mural on Dewey Air Intake Structure
- Pilot Recycling Program
- Collaboration with North Bennett St. School on Birdhouses
- Upcoming Programs: FIGMENT, Summer on the Waterfront, Circle the City
- Update: Parcel 15 improvements, in collaboration with Patrick Cullina
Slides from the meeting can be accessed through the RFKGC website.