Column

COLUMN: Business sponsorship program could vastly improve local parks

District 2 Supervisor candidate Kollin Kosmicki writes that San Benito County should do more to encourage local businesses to sponsor park offerings as a way to help fund improvements.

This column was contributed by San Benito Live founder and San Benito County Supervisor District 2 candidate Kollin Kosmicki. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

Many businesses in San Benito County do a great job giving back to the community—typically to local nonprofit organizations—but it would be nice to see more of an investment from corporate sponsors in facilities used by the wider public such as parks.

In some communities across the country, it is common for businesses to give back through major investments in their local parks as part of programs guided by local governments. It is a way for such charitable businesses—those that can afford such donations—to help improve the entire community while providing more equitable access to recreation for local families.

In revenue-starved San Benito County, where parks could use a significant upgrade, this sort of public-private partnership isn’t common but would be a useful way to garner funding for serious park improvements. Establishing a robust park sponsorship program here would provide a structured avenue for corporate entities to give back while also branding themselves as caring community partners.

R.E.A.C.H. San Benito Parks Foundation has requested sponsors, but this sort of effort really does need direct involvement from local government entities like the cities and county.

So why not get the ball rolling and see how far we can move it?

I recommend that San Benito County launch a tiered park sponsorship program. Levels of sponsorships could respectively go toward company names attached to specific amenities like trails, equipment or entire parks. It would also be a logical way to help raise funds toward the much-lauded—but very expensive—River Parkway project.

On that note, our local governments must demand more in park investments from local developers if they are going to build here. Generally, parks built in new developments are modest—to put it nicely—and sometimes leave a lot to desire.

Continued improvements of parks and establishment of a county park system would significantly enhance our community as a whole, while boosting our reputation as an outdoor getaway.

I am optimistic that local companies would have an interest in a sponsorship program. Realistically, though, such a shift must start from local government leaders, and it’s something I strongly support at the county level.

Kollin Kosmicki