The Henry County Republic recently conducted an interview with Geneseo Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda and Interim Administrator Dawn Tubbs about the Richmond Hill redevelopment project.
What is the overall vision for Richmond Hill? What do you want this area to be known for?
The vision for Richmond Hill is to improve the elements of the park to draw more people to it from both Geneseo and the outside area. We want the park to be a jewel that the community can be proud of and that others acknowledge as an incredible space! It is hoped the park will be used for all ages and have something for everyone from infant to elderly.
What are unique attractions that will not be available elsewhere?
It’s a beautiful setting which will include state of the art amenities such as a new playground, park shelter, plantings and restful stops and hopefully college and high school basketball courts and pickle ball courts if sufficient funds can be raised.
What is the overall cost of the project? What types of matching funds/grant funds are accessible?
Overall cost is $1,225,000. An OSLAD Grant (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) in the amount of $400,000 has been secured. The Geneseo Foundation has offered us up to $200,000 in matching grant funds. One dollar for every dollar raised to $200,000 will be matched. We have received a $5,000 grant for playground equipment from Abilities Plus. We have also received a $10,000 grant from the Wilbert J & Carol A. Keppy Charitable Foundation. The City will contribute $200,000 for the project. Additionally the Kiwanis and Senator Weaver have expressed a willingness to help fund the project. Individual donations are coming in and pickleball pledges have and are currently being made also. We are committed to an $800,000 project when we accepted the grant. Our goal was to pay for $200,000 and match the rest with donations. However, this $800,000 only includes a new shelter, playground, basketball court, baggo and shuffle board, and a rain garden. In order to get the 6 pickleball courts, a second basketball court and parking on the north side we would need to raise another $425,000.
How can the community help? What type of sponsorships and naming rights are offered?
We would like to secure the full $200,000 match from the Geneseo Foundation so we are accepting donations at City Hall, by telephone, by PayPal on the city website and there has also been a bank account set up for this project at both Central Bank locations. Donations can be made in the form of cash, checks, and credit card.
Naming rights will be considered on a case by case basis. See the City Administrator to explore this option. Memorial donations will also be considered.
Will there be any partnerships with sports leagues, the park district, school sports for this area?
The city has traditionally partnered with sports leagues the park district and school sports groups and will continue to do so. We want everyone to know about all amenities the City of Geneseo has to offer!
Talk about how you employ Geneseo High School students to work on Richmond Hill. How is that working out for the City?
We are proud to be able to offer our high school students summer jobs and a few are able to continue to work for the City once summer has ended. We work to try to adapt their school schedule and our work hours to accommodate them if they wish to continue their employment during the school year. They gain significant job skills by working in the field with City employees and are able to experience what real world responsibilities entail. These are paid positions!
How do you answer critics who say this project has gotten "too large?"
We see the project as upgrading equipment that needed to be replaced, adding a park shelter that was in disrepair and hopefully adding pickle ball and basketball to replace tennis courts that were sinking, cracking and in need of replacement. We would love to say this project is “too large”, but currently this project is replacing and upgrading primarily….We can think of many improvements I’d like to see happen but funding for the basics must come first. There are many small cities that are not thriving and to remain a vibrant City, it is important to keep things new and fresh not only for safety purposes but to attract people into our community as well.
Anything else you would like to share with the public?
We are looking for financial support from the community to allow us to complete this project with all amenities that are envisioned. It is most important at this time that we raise $200,000 in order to receive our matching funds from the Geneseo Foundation. Bid award will be made September 24, and it is at that time, the council will have to make the hard decision of what can be funded and what cannot. We would love to see the financial contributions support not only the items planned, but also additional elements that were dreamed about when the project was conceived. We’d also like to thank the many individuals who have contributed thus far – without them Geneseo would not be the shining star it is!