The second time around 

Michael Dover
credit: Clifton Adcock

A new request for proposal (RFP) document, which seeks organizations to run the wellness centers, was passed last week by both the MAPS 3 Senior Wellness Center Subcommittee and the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board. The City Council will likely consider the item on Jan. 8.

This is the city’s second attempt to find a group to operate the centers. The first RFP released last fall drew only two responses, both of which were rejected.

Since then, the main consultant for the MAPS 3 program, Architectural Design Group, has been interviewing potential operating partners, health care groups and other stakeholders, said Nicolle Franklin, program advisor for ADG.

In addition, the firm brought in a subcontractor to evaluate the RFP and recommend revisions to encourage more participants, Franklin said. The resulting document, she said, provides more flexibility than the previous one did.

There were a few major changes in the RFP. The new version defines the senior centers as “outcome-focused venues that promote healthy lifestyles, enhance well-being and support social engagement.” Franklin said it also more clearly explains the city’s ownership interest in, and continuous oversight of, the facilities.

While the program’s budget allows for four senior centers, each to have a $9 million budget, the RFP now allows a would-be partner to propose fewer centers be built, allowing for a bigger budget. For example, a proposal for two centers instead of four would mean a budget of around $18 million apiece.

Several nonprofits were represented at the Dec. 19 subcommittee meeting.

“Judging by the number of organizations and agencies represented here today,” said Michael Dover, subcommittee chairman, “it leads me to believe there is interest out there, and we certainly hope for and expect more interest this time around.”

Some questions remain with the revised RFP. Andrew Rice, executive director of the Variety Care Foundation, said transportation to the facilities needs to be addressed. Variety Care is among the organizations that expressed interest in a possible partnership on the senior wellness centers.

“There are a lot of under-served seniors that have no access to transportation. We’re a very car-centric community,” he said. “If we had a center, we would not see it [as] successful if only middle-class and affluent seniors could get there. If the vulnerable are not able to come we wouldn’t feel like we were matching the will of the voters.”

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