Listen up, MPA students and future council candidates! The City of McKinney has just given you a wonderful case study. First, you need to invest a little time to watch this presentation to the City Council and how the meeting played out. Here’s my take:
A group wants to take the City’s best and biggest sports park, Gabe Nesbitt, and investment money to upgrade the fields so they can be used for tournament leagues and bring more out of town teams to play on our fields. They also want to control and collect all of the money, including concessions. They also want the City to continue paying for much of the maintenance costs.
Oops! That becomes unclear right the very beginning. What the company is saying in their presentation doesn’t exactly jive with the materials they already had in the Council packets. They do the typical, “let me blind you with dreams of massive economic benefits” and show a very large $30 million tag. Except the Council isn’t so blind. In fact, they almost compete to ask good professional questions. The company’s answers aren’t so good. They have a good ole’ boy speaker who doesn’t impress the City Council.
But the Council is playing nice. You can tell by their tone that they are trying to be fair and hear the full pitch. Then they ask the Rhoda Savage, the Parks & Rec Director to comment. She is polished and makes some very good points. Her credility is sky high with the Council. You can sense her skepticism, but she is all professional.
Then an original McKinney good ole’ boy speaks. He is not polished, but he is powerful. He calls out 50 years of memories with the good ole’ boys on the Council. While being polite, he delivers a sledge hammer plea. He’s repeats more than once that he is not smart enough to figure this out, but you know very well he is smart as a whip.
But then comes the polished and well thought out speech from Lonea, head of one of the McKinney baseball leagues. She raises questions that nobody in the room would have thought to consider. Bang, bang, bang. You could sense that the Council probably has seen her stern professional demeanor, but they know there is a fire that they surely want to contain.
At this point you know this pitch is not going to fly. But then the bureaucratic (from the Council, not staff) agony overcomes the meeting, like a thick cloud of goo. Oh my goodness, here comes the process. We’re going to study it to death. A park master plan has just be done. It is so new that it hasn’t been presented to the council. Undo? Redo? How to scope another study? Who should do it and who should pay for it? Can’t be staff. Too busy. It will have to have tons of community input, from the same people who were just asked for input on the park master plan.
Stop. Stop. Stop. Every councilmember either doesn’t want this or shouldn’t want it in light of the lousy presentation from the business and the multiple questions raised by the baseball league representatives. Nobody even asks if this is such a good deal, and the business is going to make sufficient money to make a profit or perhaps just break even after they put $millions into it and set fees to cover their costs, then McKinney only has literally tens of thousands of undeveloped acres, so why not do their own thing?
This is insane. The Council is going to allow this to go several steps through the process just so they can say they went through a process in order to say no. NO is the correct answer RIGHT NOW. Why waste staff time? Why get the baseball family in an uproar? The Council knows the little leaguers can fill the council chambers 10x over – and will.
Or they could write a polite letter:
Thank you for your interest in McKinney. We believe that all of our current resources going mostly to the advantage of recreational baseball is the will of the Council reflecting the will of the people. We believe there is plenty of land in McKinney for you to create a tournament league complex in McKinney, invest your money and set your own fees. By the way, you happened to mention in your answers to some questions that there was some legal action being taken in some adjacent communities where tournament leagues were not being given the same status as recreational teams. We would have to tell you that making that statement was not a very smart thing to do. We wish you well in your future endeavors.
McKinney City Council