The Westfield Redevelopment Commission is seeking proposals to possibly sell Grand Park or enter into a public-private partnership for park operation. The RDC issued a request for proposals March 3. The City of Westfield operates Grand Park, a 400-acre sports campus in northern Westfield that opened in 2014. The park is owned by the RDC.
However, RDC member Bob
said the RDC wasn’t aware of the RFP until March 3.
“This RFP was not done through the RDC even though it says so on the proposal,” Beaudry said. “It was not brought up for vote in the RDC. We are trying to figure out what’s going on, too.”
Beaudry said he hasn’t had time to go through the RFP in detail but that he did send several questions to the city, such as who wrote the RFP and who decided the terms and why the RFP was completed without a public forum. As of press time, he hasn’t received an answer to his questions.
In an email statement, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook cited “red tape” as a reason for selling the park, although he didn’t provide a specific example.
“The City has been fortunate to have excellent leaders and staff to guide Grand Park since its inception, as well as great partners for its operations,” Cook’s stated in the email. “But even their monumental efforts have a ceiling because of red tape inherent in operating Grand Park as a municipality. So, we are at a point at which we need the private sector’s input on how Grand Park can reach new heights for the benefit of the City and its residents. That is the main purpose of the RFP, and I’m excited about the opportunities.”
The RFP states it is seeking “proposals from qualified respondents interested in purchasing the sports campus known as ‘Grand Park’ in Westfield, Indiana, or in entering a public-private agreement to operate Grand Park pursuant to Indiana Code 5-23. The form of the purchase or proposed public-private agreement terms and the proposer’s ability to complete the transaction will be significant decision points when making an award under the Request for Proposal (RFP).”
The RFP also stated that a successful respondent must prove a financial history of being able purchase or operate the park.
Grand Park has 31 soccer fields, 26 baseball diamonds, two administration buildings, seven concession stands and a 378,000-square-foot multi-use event center.
The RFP stated that a written confirmation of a respondent’s intent to respond to is required by April 1, with all proposals due by 3 p.m. June 22.
Westfield Communications Director Chris Proffitt referred Current to an RDC member for further comment. When Current requested a comment from RDC President Joe Plankis, Plankis referred Current back to Proffitt.
Westfield City Council member Scott Willis said he has had conversations with Cook in the past about Grand Park and the direction the city wants to go with it.
“This is going back a couple years ago when the new council came in, and, rightfully so, didn’t like the looseness of contracts we had in place at Grand Park,” Willis said. “There were a lot of handshake agreements and things not locked down contractually, so the RDC went in there and did an RFP for maintenance services at Grand Park. From that RFP, we started getting quotes back from people asking about much larger and broader contracts than the RFP, to include interested buyers and buying the park.”
Willis said because there wasn’t a dollar amount attached to the questions, he said it made Cook revisit what his vision for Grand Park was.
“They’re going back and trying to get a more formalized RFP process of selling the park all together or contracting out the operation of Grand Park, and the city retains ownership,” Willis said.
Willis said despite what the proposals show, Cook would have to get approval from the RDC if he chooses to move forward with a proposal. The RDC is the legal owner of the park.
“I don’t think the city is set on a vision for selling Grand Park, but I think if the price is right, we would be silly not to take a look at it,” Willis said.
Willis said he assumes other council members have had similar conversations with Cook, but council member Cindy Spoljaric said the RFP came as a surprise.
“Over the years and between the old council and the mayor, there was always discussion at some point in the future there could be an entertaining of offers,” Spoljaric said. “I didn’t think we were in a position to be sending out an RFP or anything.”
Spoljaric said she and the other council members were notified of the RFP on March 2. Spoljaric’s request to view the RFP in advance of its public posting March 3 was denied.
To view the RFP, visit westfield.in.gov/egov/documents/1646311131_70797.pdf.