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Committee vets process for proposing zoo events

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Pictured are City Councilors Barry Foster and George Peterson and City Attorney Aaron Holloman at the Legal Committee meeting on Thursday afternoon. (Alison Penn Photo)

Roebuck discusses Christmas Railway, new zoo committee

The Roswell City Council’s Legal Committee has approved the scope of services for a request for proposals (RFP) for seasonal events hosted by private entities and organizations at Spring River Park & Zoo.

Minor revisions were made to the RFP’s evaluation criteria and some language was changed by the committee. Committee Chair Judy Stubbs said the RFP was returning to the committee after being reworked by staff. Councilors Stubbs, Barry Foster and George Peterson all voted in favor of the measure, 3 to 0. Councilor Savino Sanchez was absent.

The item will now be on the consent agenda of the next full City Council meeting, which allows the council to approve several items with one vote. Councilors may also choose to amend the consent agenda to allow a full governing body discussion of a specific item.

City Attorney Aaron Holloman explained that the RFP had been worked on based on recommendations from the council, but the city’s “boilerplate,” or standard language for RFPs, remained the same. After his explanation, Holloman called for feedback from the committee.

Holloman touched on the situation of City Councilor Jacob Roebuck, who is also producer of the Roswell Christmas Railway (RCR), which would be going into its fourth season. Attendees experience a Christmas village and train ride at the zoo during the holiday season between November and December.

To comply with the Governmental Conduct Act, Holloman said, such an event has to go through a competitive bid process. Holloman said the RFP would provide the avenue for this and for soliciting interest from other events.

Roebuck relayed to the Daily Record that he will continue to recuse himself from any votes or discussions regarding the RFP, to allow the nine other councilors to make necessary decisions.

Holloman said that the evaluation committee would be selective, choosing “events that are fitting in with the mission of the community and what we have for the zoo itself.”

RFP Changes 

Holloman said the evaluation committee would score each proposal and following this would provide a recommendation of the highest scores to City Manager Joe Neeb for negotiations, made up of events scoring 80 points or higher out of 125 possible points.

Foster suggested changing points to percentages and making the consideration meeting 50-65% of the RFP criteria. The committee voted in favor of this suggestion, changing the consideration from 80 points to 50% of the criteria.

In terms of scores related to event costs, Holloman explained an event with plans to generate profit for the city would garner more points, a “no cost” event would earn more than half of the possible points and an event proposing the city cover costs would not receive points.

Holloman said the intention is to find organizers to plan and host events, not to have people simply submit ideas for the city to run. Foster suggested the language say “break even” rather than “no cost.”

Foster added that scoring a zero in cost would require a proposer to otherwise score perfectly in all categories. The committee ultimately decided to have Holloman revise that section to be more clear.

Reviewing the document’s highlights, Holloman explained the RFP can be awarded to multiple events or none at all and there is flexibility in terms of times and dates.

Event organizers would be responsible for their own marketing, planning and in the event of any damage to property, restoration would be required. An interview with the event organizer is also required as part of the RFP.

Requests for city equipment, Lodgers’ Tax funding (an optional municipal tax on hotels, motels and other commercial short-term rentals) or in-kind services must be handled through the existing special events policy, Holloman and Neeb explained.

Stubbs said she could not “fathom an event” that would not require some kind of city staff assistance. Neeb explained the idea is to keep special events and contractual seasonal events separate. He said if an event needs assistance from the city, then the assistance must be included in the contract.

Neeb said concerns about the zoo itself will be addressed at a meeting of the recently formed Zoo Review Committee, in addition to a conversation regarding the zoo’s masterplan that was approved last March. The first meeting was held May 7 and the second was scheduled on Tuesday afternoon.

Committee agendas can be seen at under the city’s “Agendas and Minutes” section at roswell-nm.gov.

Christmas Railway 

For the Christmas Railway, Roebuck explained the plan is to have the RCR this year. Roebuck Entertainment has decided to not apply for Lodgers’ Tax funding from the city for the event. If this year’s event does happen, he said he desires to do more to promote the zoo at the RCR as new changes are being made, such as the in-progress interim mountain lion enclosure.

Roebuck said he pushed for forming the Zoo Review Committee.

“The reason why I did that was because it had nothing to do with the railway,” Roebuck said. “In fact, the more successful we are on the zoo committee, the more it hurts the railway. Because ultimately if you look at the masterplan, which I voted for and approved, there’s no space for the railway. I want us to get there. I want us to get to the place where the city’s like, ‘Jacob, we just can’t accommodate you anymore.’ That would be awesome to me …”

Another location can be the home for the RCR with adequate time and planning in the future, Roebuck said.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.