Manassas City Council chose Monday night to award the management contract for the Loy. E. Harris Pavilion to a company based in the Richmond area, turning down a local non-profit that has become a fixture in the community.
In a 4-2 vote described by many council members as difficult, the City Council handed over control of the downtown pavilion to Rink Management Services Corp., rejecting the bid offered by Historic Manassas Inc., which has run the pavilion for the past year.
“I look at HMI and see they’ve done a wonderful job. But I look at RMS and am interested in what they would be able to accomplish,” said Councilman Robert (Bob) Oliver.
Completed more than a year ago as part of a $2 million city project, the 7,200-square-foot pavilion is an ice skating rink during the winter and a place for parties, receptions and other community events during the rest of the year.
The council’s decision to go with RMS came after a months-long evaluation process, during which a special committee made up of city staff and business owners found HMI’s bid to run the structure lacking in areas ranging from completeness of proposal to experience capabilities and skills.
The annual amount RMS wanted to run the pavilion –$179,500 –was almost $50,000 less than what HMI was asking for.
“I think $50,000 is a considerable amount of money,” said Councilman Ulysses X. White. “Although price isn’t everything, I must say that.”
Councilman J. Steven Randolph, who joined Councilman Eugene R. Rainville to vote against giving RMS the contract, told the council that it was ignoring the important role HMI has played in the redevelopment of Old Town.
“They have been so integral, so important to our Old Town and the revitalization of Manassas and will continue to do so,” he said.
After the meeting, Thomas Hillgrove, RMS’s president, said the corporation will work with a variety of Manassas organizations, including HMI, to ensure the pavilion’s popularity.
“We’d certainly like to hear from people in the community,” he said.