Presenter: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Action
Texas Recreation and Parks Account
Adoption of Rules
January 2002

I. Discussion: The Seventy-third Legislature, Regular Session, created the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program (TRPA). TRPA is funded through a dedication of a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods, effective September 1, 1993. The Texas Recreation and Parks account is incorporated as Chapter 24 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. The program provides local governments matching funds assistance for outdoor and indoor recreation.

Section 24.005 (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Code states that “in establishing the program of grants under this section, the department shall adopt rules and regulations for grant assistance.”

Small Communities Grants: Texas Parks and Wildlife provides funding assistance for outdoor recreation facilities through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account grant program. In recent years the demand for these funds has dramatically increased, as has the competition for these limited resources. We have heard from a number of smaller Texas communities that this keen competition is a source of frustration when the local need is just for a small amount of money to provide one or two basic recreation facilities. In January 2001 the Commission authorized this pilot program, and authorized the set-aside of $500,000 from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account for small community grants. In April 2001 we accepted applications for this pilot program, known the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Small Community Grants Program, to hopefully address the need to provide basic recreation opportunities in these communities.

The pilot program provided 50% matching fund, reimbursement grants to eligible local governments of a population of 50,000 or less. The maximum amount that could be applied for per application was $50,000 ($100,000 total project). Eligible applicants included political subdivisions of the State of Texas legally responsible for providing public recreation services to their citizens. This includes cities, counties, and some other government entities.

All applications submitted were evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized with the criteria, rating factors and points found in the "Project Priority Scoring System". We received applications from 64 sponsors, requesting $2,280,707 in matching funds. In August the Commission supported 12 applications in the amount of $541,660.

Regional Park Grants: The Seventy-sixth Legislature, Regular Session, passed House Bill 2108, which made several changes to the Texas Recreation and Parks Account as incorporated in Chapter 24 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. One of these changes was the creation of a regional park initiative. This change grew out of a recommendation contained in a 1998 study prepared by Texas A&M University, "Texas Outdoors, A Vision for the Future". This study was a comprehensive assessment of the current and future needs for recreation opportunities in Texas. The report states, "better understanding of all Texans by TPWD and other recreation providers can help them create opportunities for all citizens…including: creating large, intensive-use outdoor recreation and park lands in areas surrounding the fastest-growing cities. A lack of such parks is a major constraint for Texans. An important element of this action is developing TPWD capacity for multimillion-dollar matching grants to leverage development of these projects with private sector, nonprofit and local agency partners. A second element is ensuring adequate surface water resources for aquatic habitat and water-based recreation. Another is developing regional systems of parks and conservation areas with trail linkages or linear greenways between them and other community amenities." A total of approximately $3 million in each of the past two years was made available through a pilot program to test this initiative. The staff solicited proposals from local governments in Texas’ major metropolitan areas, and received 19 applications for these pilot regional grants. A committee of TPW staff and local government representatives reviewed the proposals in light of the issues stated above, and applications were evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized with the criteria, rating factors and points found in the "Project Priority Scoring System". In May 2000 the Commission approved 4 of 7 applications in the amount of $3,000,000, and in April 2001 the Commission supported 3 of 12 applications in the amount of $3,163,599.

Public Participation Process: To facilitate the rule making process for the Small Communities and Regional Grant programs, staff conducted 12 public hearings across Texas. Six hearings were held for each of the programs in these locations:

A total of 206 persons registered attendance at these hearings. A mass mailing invitation was sent to all potential sponsors for these two grant programs. The 24 regional councils of governments were notified, and TPW news releases were published. Several representatives of applicants for the pilot programs (both successful and unsuccessful) attended the hearings, and their comments were particularly useful. The hearings were designed to be both informative and to facilitate discussions about the grant programs. In a facilitated process, attendees were asked to comment on administrative issues as well as the priority ranking criteria used to evaluate the grant applications. Proposed changes to the programs resulting from this public process will include the following:

Small Communities Grants:

Regional Park Grants:

The Exhibits Incorporated as Part of this Commission Item Consist of the Following:

Exhibit A - Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program Grants Manual is proposed for amendment and contains the proposed administrative rules and regulations for operation of the Small Communities and Regional Park Grant Programs.

Exhibit B - Texas Recreation and Parks Account Small Communities and Regional Park Grants Programs Project Priority Scoring Systems containing the proposed criteria to be used to evaluate and prioritize grant applications requesting Small Communities or Regional Park Grant recreation assistance.

II. Recommendation: Staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following two motions:

"It is established as a rule for the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program that the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Grants Manual as amended, as contained in Exhibit A, is adopted for administration of the Texas Recreation and Parks Account recreation grants program, as described in Chapter 24 of the Parks and Wildlife Code."

"It is established as a rule for the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program that the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Small Communities and Regional Park Grant Programs Project Priority Scoring Systems, as contained in Exhibit B, are adopted for evaluating and prioritizing grant applications requesting grant assistance, as described in the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Grants Manual."

Attachments - 3

1. Exhibit A - Texas Recreation and Parks Account Grants Manual (Available upon request)
2. Exhibit B - Texas Recreation and Parks Account Small Communities and and Regional Parks Grants Project Priority Scoring Systems
3. Exhibit C - Fiscal Note (Available upon request)


Commission Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit B

Texas Recreation and Parks Account Small Communities and and Regional Parks Grants Project Priority Scoring Systems

§65.132. Texas Recreation and Parks Account Grants Manual.

(a) The Texas Recreation and Parks Account (TRPA) Grants Manual contains the standards and requirements for the application, evaluation and award of all grants made under this subchapter.

(b) The Texas Recreation and Parks Account (TRPA) Manual is adopted by reference and may be obtained by contacting Texas Parks and Wildlife at 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; 512-912-7115, or 1-800-792-1112; or http://www.rec.grants@tpwd.state.tx.us.

§65.136. Grants for Small Communities.

(a) Program purpose and priorities. All grant applications submitted to the department for the small community grant program are evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized according to the Project Priority Scoring System set forth in this section. Scored applications are presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for approval. In general, recommended priorities for small community projects are:

(1) to ensure sponsor performance on active grants and compliance at previously assisted grant sites;

(2) to reward the smallest communities;

(3) to increase recreational diversity;

(4) to improve geographic distribution of park and recreation opportunities;

(5) to maximize the use of funds for basic park and recreation opportunities;

(6) to improve park and recreation opportunities for low income, minority, elderly, and youth-at-risk citizens;

(7) to reward cooperative efforts between small communities and other governmental, educational, or private sector entities;

(8) to renovate existing, obsolete park and recreation areas and facilities; and

(9) to promote the conservation of natural resources and environmental values.

(b) Small communities project priority scoring system.

(1) Small community projects presented to the commission shall be scored according to the criteria, rating factors, and point values set forth in this subsection.

(2) The priority ranking of a project will depend on its score in relation to the scores of other projects under consideration.

(3) Funding of projects will depend on the availability of TRPA funds.

(4) Projects which have not been approved after two considerations by the commission, without alterations to significantly raise the project score, shall be returned to the sponsor and not accepted for resubmission.

(5) Each site of a multiple-site project shall be scored individually. Individual site scores will be weighted on a pro-rata share of the total budget for the entire project. All weighted scores will be added together for the total project score.

(6) If the sponsor is in full compliance at previously assisted grant project sites and is progressing on schedule with all active grant projects in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter, the application will be scored and presented for award consideration. If the sponsor does not meet the requirements of this paragraph, the application will not be scored or considered further.

(7) A project proposal meeting the requirements of paragraph (6) of this subsection shall be evaluated according to:

(A) the population of the sponsor is 2,000 or less. 2 points will be awarded if the community population is 2,000 or less.

(B) the extent to which the project will provide diversity of park and recreation opportunities or facilities at the proposed site. 1 point will be awarded for each type of facility or opportunity, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(C) the extent to which the project will improve the geographic distribution of park and recreation lands and facilities in the project’s service area or within the sponsor’s jurisdiction, up to a maximum of 10 points.

(i) Project provides the first public recreation opportunity in the sponsor’s jurisdiction or intended service area: 10 points; or

(ii) Project provides the first public park or significantly new and different park and recreation opportunities (other than school facilities) at the project site. 5 points will be awarded for the first public park, or, if not the first park, but new and different facilities are proposed, 1 point will be awarded for each facility or opportunity, based on the significance to the community and originality of opportunity, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(D) the extent to which the project maximizes the use of development funds for facilities which provide direct park and recreation opportunities, up to a maximum of 10 points, as determined by dividing the direct recreational facilities costs by the total construction costs and multiplying the result by 10. “Total Facilities Costs” include park and recreation facilities, support and infrastructure facilities, contingency costs, and all required program signage costs in excess of $1,000.

(E) the extent to which the project improves park and recreation opportunities for low income, minority, elderly or youth-at-risk citizens, up to a maximum of 16 points.

(i) Project improves opportunities for low-income citizens in areas where such action is needed as determined by multiplying the percentage of population qualifying as low income by 4. Maximum of 4 points.

(ii) Project improves opportunities for minority citizens in areas where such action is needed as determined by multiplying the percentage of population qualifying as minority by 4. Maximum of 4 points.

(iii) Project improves opportunities for the elderly in areas where such action is needed. 1 point is awarded for each facility, typically involving passive activities, except where facilities are designed specifically for an elderly user group. Maximum of 4 points.

(iv) Project provides opportunities for youth-at-risk where such action is needed. 1 point is awarded for each program offered for youth-at-risk. Sponsor must describe/define the youth-at-risk population and demonstrate how facilities proposed in the application will be specifically programmed. Maximum of 4 points.

(F) the extent to which the project involves cooperation between the sponsor and other governmental, educational, or private entities to provide park and recreation opportunities at the project site(s). Maximum of 10 points.

(i) Project involves the contribution of resources from other entities which serves as all or part of the sponsor’s matching share of funds. Up to 5 points may be awarded on a percentage basis, depending on the amount of matching funds provided by the other entity as determined by dividing the total contribution value by the total match and multiplying the result by 5.

(ii) Project involves cooperation between the sponsor and other entities where resources are contributed to the overall project for non-grant assisted facilities (example: a county constructs roads/parking facilities for a city, but no grant funds are requested for roads/parking: 1 point per activity, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(G) the extent to which the project provides for the renovation of an existing obsolete park and recreation area or facilities, as determined by dividing the renovation cost by the total construction cost and multiplying the result by 5. Maximum of 5 points.

(H) the extent to which the project promotes the conservation of natural resources through the use of activities or techniques such as xeriscape/native plant materials, drip or treated effluent irrigation systems, energy efficient lighting systems, recycled materials for facility construction, environmental education and interpretation, significant tree plantings where no trees exist, alternative energy sources, water catchment systems, or other resource conservation measures. 1 point is awarded for each conservation element proposed in the grant, up to a maximum of 5 points.

#65.137. Grants for Regional Parks.

(a) Program purpose and priorities. All grant applications submitted to the department for the regional park program are evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized according to the Project Priority Scoring System set forth in this section. Scored applications are presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for approval. In general, recommended priorities for regional park projects are:

(1) to ensure sponsor performance on active grants and compliance at previously assisted grant sites;

(2) to recognize acquisition of intensive use, linear greenway, and conservation areas;

(3) to reward matching fund contributions from multiple political jurisdictions;

(4) to reward regional planning efforts;

(5) to reward joint use or programming efforts by multiple political jurisdictions;

(6) to reward contributions from the private sector;

(7) to reward dedication of publicly-owned non-parkland;

(8) to reward water-based conservation;

(9) to reward acquisition or development of significant natural resources;

(10) to reward greenbelt linkage; and

(11) to promote the conservation of natural resources and environmental values.

(b) Regional park project priority scoring system.

(1) Regional park projects presented to the commission shall be scored according to the criteria, rating factors, and point values set forth in this subsection.

(2) The priority ranking of a project will depend on its score in relation to the scores of other projects under consideration.

(3) Funding of projects will depend on the availability of TRPA funds.

(4) Projects which have not been approved after two considerations by the commission, without alterations to significantly raise the project score, shall be returned to the sponsor and not accepted for resubmission.

(5) If the sponsor is in full compliance at previously assisted grant project sites and is progressing on schedule with all active grant projects in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter, the application will be scored and presented for award consideration. If the sponsor does not meet the requirements of this paragraph, the application will not be scored or considered further.

(6) A project proposal meeting the requirements of paragraph (5) of this subsection shall be evaluated according to:

(A) the extent to which the project provides for the acquisition of land for the purposes of:

(i) intensive use recreation (5 points), and/or

(ii) significant linear greenways (5 points), and/or

(iii) conservation areas (mostly passive use, dedication required) (5 points).

5 points will be awarded for each type of acquisition, up to a maximum of 15 points.

(B) the extent to which the project demonstrates matching fund contributions (land, money, in-kind) from multiple political jurisdictions. Up to 5 points may be awarded on a percentage basis, depending on the amount of matching funds provided by the other political jurisdictions as determined by dividing the total contribution value by the total match and multiplying the result by 5.

(C) the extent to which the project is a component of a comprehensive or park and recreation master plan for 1 or more political jurisdictions. 1 point will be awarded per plan, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(D) the extent to which the project proposes facility development which will be used or programmed by multiple political jurisdictions. 1 point will be awarded per contributing entity, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(E) the extent to which the project demonstrates commitments for funds, resources, or programming from the private sector or non-profit groups. 1 point will be awarded per letter of commitment, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(F) the extent to which the project demonstrates the dedication of publicly-owned non-parkland from a source other than the applicant. A maximum of 5 points will be awarded based on the acreage and significance of the property within the entire project.

(G) the extent to which the project proposes acquisition and/or development of significant water-based resources (up to a maximum of 15 points allocated as follows):

(i) the project proposes the acquisition of water access (5 points); and/or

(ii) the project proposes the development of water-based recreation (1 point per recreational opportunity, up to a maximum of 5 points); and/or

(iii) the project proposes the conservation of aquatic habitat (1 point per conservation element, up to a maximum of 5 points).

(H) the extent to which the project proposes acquisition and/or development of a significant natural resource other than water up to a maximum of 10 points as allocated below:

(i) The project proposes the acquisition of natural resource access (5 points); and/or

(ii) The project proposes the development of natural resource-based recreation opportunities. 1 point will be awarded per recreation opportunity provided, up to a maximum of 5 points.

(I) the extent to which the project proposes to link multiple political jurisdictions with trails and/or greenbelts. 5 points will be awarded per linkage up to a maximum of 15 points. For example: 2 entities linked = 5 points; 3 entities linked = 10 points; 4 entities linked = 15 points.

(J) the extent to which the project promotes conservation of natural resources through the use of activities or techniques such as xeriscape or native plant materials, drip or treated effluent irrigation systems, energy efficient lighting systems, recycled materials for facility construction, environmental education or interpretation, significant tree plantings where no trees exist, alternative energy sources, water catchment systems, or other resource conservation measures. 1 point will be awarded for each conservation element, up to a maximum of 5 points.

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

Issued in Austin, Texas, on


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