Sports teams sell naming rights to arenas. Colleges name buildings after big donors. So why shouldn’t a city sell naming rights to a much-needed new community center?
In Golden Valley, all financing options are on the table as the city looks to replace the nearly 100-year-old Brookview Community Center.
“If we have to get creative about how we fund such a project, a private and public partnership may be one of the options we should consider,” said John Kluchka, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission and a member of a community task force that recently gave the city recommendations on the future of Brookview. “We should have that conversation, and it should be open.”
Mayor Shep Harris said he’d be willing to consider the idea if there’s no state law against it.
“We’ve got some wonderful recommendations,” he said. “And we need to be open and creative about how we finance it.”
Whether or not Golden Valley winds up with the General Mills-Honeywell Community Center, city leaders are hoping for more public input on the future of Brookview.
The 29-member task force recommended a new $38 million facility on the existing Brookview site. However, task force members stressed that their proposal — available at www.goldenvalleymn.gov — was meant to be a starting point for further discussion, not a final decision.
“This was never intended to be the perfect design,” said Lynn Gitelis, a task force member and lifelong Golden Valley resident. “It was a first phase. Phase II would be refining the design and considering the financing options.”
Kluchka said the work of the task force “wasn’t a proposal so much as a vision.”
“I worry that if people think something’s being proposed, that there needs to be a decision made [immediately] on that proposal,” he said. “I don’t believe that was our intent. I’d rather spend a longer amount of time than rush into something.”
But time is an issue, as the city’s professional staff and elected leaders will hold a retreat later this month to decide on priorities for the city’s long-range infrastructure needs. The city’s general fund budget for 2015 is about $16.9 million, but long-term infrastructure investments typically are not paid out of general funds.
City Manager Tom Burt said he’s prepared a report on city assets and infrastructure that’s about 50 pages long. But it’s up to the council to set the priorities, he said.
“The city owns 36 buildings, and they’re all at a point of needing repair,” he said. “Undoubtedly, government buildings are going to be a priority. It’s up to them to tell us which ones.”
There has been some discussion of renovating Brookview at a cost of about $10 million. Kluchka said he doesn’t think that would be a smart move for the center, which has already had several renovations and expansions during its lifetime.
“My thought there is, $10 million for a 10-year return?” he said. “Or do we save our money, as we do as a family, and save up for what we really need? I just worry that the march toward a short-term plan is short-term thinking.”
Karla Rose, another task force member, said the Brookview project “really could be a legacy for this council, and I hope they can see that. It’s something that really creates a long-term benefit for our community.”
The task force members, she said, “are focused on how much [financial burden] we can take off the city. What are the opportunities to get that cost off the city and just get creative with the finances on it?
“To me, it’s a no-brainer to at least give it a shot to see if we can work something out.”