City of Oaks Foundation Exec. Director Contract Extended

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The lone employee of the City of Oaks Foundation will continue his role for another year.

On Tuesday, Raleigh City Councilors approved a one-year contract extension for Executive Director Kevin Brice, the nonprofit’s only employee. The foundation was started by the city in 2010, but received its nonprofit status early last year.

Brice’s total contract for his two years of service, which started last September, is $172,000 and includes benefits.

Brice said that his salary is the city’s only monetary expenditure related to the foundation. The city also provides an in-kind donation of office space.

How it Began
The foundation began after William and Mary Coker Joslin decided to donate about 4 acres of their West Lake Drive property to the city to be used as a public garden. Rather than accepting the property donation outright, the city and the Joslins agreed to form a nonprofit that would work with the city on managing and stewardship of the garden, Brice said.

“It was a way to accept the donation and make it so the 4-acre garden didn’t get lost in the larger portfolio of land that the city owns and manages,” he said.

The foundation would also be able to work toward acquiring more space and conservation easements.

Conservation easements allow property owners to continue to own their property, but allow the foundation or the city to use it in any way that everyone can agree to.

In the case of the Joslin property, the foundation would own the land and the city would maintain it.

Superintendent Stephen Bentley, with the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, said that staff is working with the foundation on that maintenance contract to determine what the city would be responsible for.

Brice said the city continues to directly accept donations, much like the Annie Louise Wilkerson property that will be turned into a nature preserve.

“It’s more just another tool in the tool box,” he said.

Prior to working with the City of Oaks Foundation, Brice worked with the Triangle Land Conservancy and he said that in the more than 15 years of doing this kind of work, some landowners are just more comfortable working with a nonprofit rather than a municipal body.

Bentley said the city has a very active and progressive parks and recreation system and as those systems mature and advance there are a lot of groups that come forward that want to help the city achieve its goals.

“The city has, obviously, finite resources,” he said.

The foundation could step in and acquire the land or assist with applying easements and even apply for grants that the city can’t.

Going Forward
Brice said the foundation isn’t focused on building ball fields or playgrounds, but wants to fill a need for more low-impact recreation, such as unstructured outdoor play.

One of the major programs the foundation will be working on is the Give Play initiative, which will work to provide scholarships to children so that they can attend summer camp.

The city’s financial involvement with the foundation is temporary. By next year, Brice said the foundation should be able to stand alone without city funding, but would continue to work in partnership with the city.

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