A community’s parks and recreational facilities offer economic value, health benefits and a type of social cohesion that can’t be duplicated by other facilities. Parks help bring communities and neighborhoods together.
Any community that takes pride in promoting themselves as a desirable location for people to live and work will point out their park and recreation programs. Yet many — if not most — park and recreation departments must be careful with their resources and make the most of their purchasing power.
Challenges of Today’s Procurement Process
It’s safe to say that every public park and recreation department is expected to save taxpayer money whenever possible. And many communities lack resources to improve and expand parks and recreation facilities. Furthermore, many park and recreation departments cope with job turnover, resulting in limited time for staffers to make informed choices when spending money on equipment, infrastructure and programs.
Utilizing a Cooperative Purchasing Program Is Key
Cooperative purchasing, which combines the requirements of public entities and access to leading suppliers, can be the key to making the most of parks and recreation resources. Advantages of using a cooperative purchasing program include:
- Drives better pricing and delivery with aggregate of spend and volume purchasing
- Eliminates staff time for contract solicitation, providing additional soft cost savings while meeting requirements for a competitive solicitation process
- Access to leading suppliers with parks and recreation expertise to help with design, surfacing and planning
Parks Maximizing Purchasing Power via Purchasing Cooperative
The County of Fairfax, Virginia, has been utilizing the U.S. Communities program for playground projects since 2008. They have saved an average of 20 percent per playground project and an additional six months of time over a traditional design-bid-build process. Utilizing cooperative contracts couldn’t be any easier, as Dave Bowen, Director of Planning and Development states, “The County of Fairfax is proud to provide safe, quality products at a lesser price.”
In New York, the city of Albany wanted to create a network of neighborhood parks, each designed to harmonize with the surrounding community and geography, and all with built-in accessibility so they can be used by all residents. They also used a cooperative contract to help maximize their available resources. The city has a five-year capital plan and are three years into implementation. They’ve redone 11 parks, and many have intergenerational features giving the community a place to connect.
“It’s been life-changing in the sense that kids keep coming back to playgrounds, and people are traveling to different neighborhoods to use different parks. Because each park is different people are moving from one to another, and it’s more inclusive for the city because people are using all of the play spaces,” says Jonathan Jones, Commissioner of Recreation, Youth & Workforce.
Partnering with a cooperative program can help you increase your purchasing power. Now, there is more purchasing power in the partnership as U.S. Communities and National IPA join together under OMNIA Partners. Learn more today to ensure your local parks and recreation services get the absolute most for your resources.
Sarah Mallon is the Director of Marketing for U.S. Communities.