Purcellville Teen Center Operator on Outside of Fireman’s Field Talks

As Purcellville prepares for new management to take over the Fireman’s Field complex on Jan. 1, it is expected to terminate the contract with the Purcellville Teen Center.

Currently, the teen center is under contract to manage operations in the 8,500-square-foot Bush Tabernacle until October 2020. It pays the town $3.67 per square foot, $31,200 annually. The county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services manages the sports fields, but will not renew its lease for 2018.

The Town Council is hoping to generate more revenue from the complex and sought proposals from companies interested in taking over management and upkeep of the property, including the skating rink, two ball fields and a picnic area.

Phil Message, the teen center’s president, said he didn’t respond to the town’s request for individuals and companies interested in managing the property because he already had a contract with the town. He also said he didn’t respond because the town stated it would give preference to a firm that would manage the entire property, which his staff is not geared up to do.

The town received one response from a trio of vendors—Lifeview Real Estate, Play to Win and nonprofit ECHO. That proposal is under review by the council and has not been made public. The council is expected to accept or reject the application at its Nov. 14 meeting.       Representatives of the applicants have declined to discuss details of their proposal until the council releases the information.

Mayor Kwasi Fraser said he told Message last year that it would be a good idea to partner with one of the three responding firms.

“[Phil] had an opportunity to respond to the RFP (request for proposal), but he did not,” Fraser said. “The train has left the station.”

According to Message, the teen center has been in touch with Lifeview Real Estate, but nothing has been worked out yet. He said if the town asked him to stay and pay more in rent, he would.

“That’s what they should have done,” he said. “We could have had that conversation and we still can.”

In May 2015, the teen center offered to increase its rent payments to $50,000 annually, he said. At the time,

the town couldn’t accept the offer because of the debt structure, which was changed earlier this year as part of a bond refinancing. However, to work around this, the teen center contract was amended to make it responsible for up to $18,800 in HVAC and fire sprinkler system maintenance, fire alarm monitoring and parking lot lighting. According to the teen center’s records, it pays about $14,000 annually for these expenses.

“We agreed to pay up to $50,000 one way or another,” Message said. “We don’t care in what form we pay it.”

Although Message’s team may be moving out by the end of the year, the new management could run similar, if not identical, events in the tabernacle.

According to their informal responses in the spring before they teamed up to make a formal proposal to the town, Lifeview Real Estate and Play to Win indicated they would continue teen activities at the tabernacle.

Lifeview Real Estate indicated it would keep certain events going and add others like basketball camps, a Purcellville family dinner or luncheon, a parents’ night out and marriage, parenting and family teaching events.

Play to Win’s response stated that its, “experience with event planning, marketing and execution at the Evergreen Sportsplex will directly translate to offerings at the Bush Tabernacle.” It indicated it would host camps, clinics, corporate outings and other programs.

Both respondents stated they would keep the roller skating rink and continue hosting birthday parties.

According to Janet Clarke, a former Town Council member and Blue Ridge District supervisor who helped found the teen center, it will be good for Purcellville if the new management keeps similar events and programs in place.

“The community needs something,” she said. “The most beneficial thing is going to be for them to retain some type of program for the kids.”

Message said he doesn’t know what will happen after December if the teen center doesn’t work something out with one of the firms.


3 thoughts on “Purcellville Teen Center Operator on Outside of Fireman’s Field Talks

  • 2017-11-09 at 1:59 pm

    What a scheme this has been. Way underestimated the amount of damage a town council can do in a year. We should be saving a ton on payroll at least since all the staff is leaving.

  • 2017-11-09 at 4:41 pm

    For the record, Mayor Fraser hasn’t spoken to me about this for almost a year, and he certainly did not tell me “last month that it would be a good idea to partner with one of the three responding firms.”

    • 2017-11-10 at 5:42 pm

      Kudos to the reporter for correcting this article, and changing “last month” to “last year.” Of course, the correction does highlight the underlying problem: that the Mayor has gone down this path for a year and never once had the common courtesy or business sense to discuss this with me personally.

      Philip Message/President Purcellville Teen Center Inc.

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