Friends, supporters and Trail Builder volunteers,
We hope you and your family are well in this New Year! If you are wondering why we've yet to post our 2017 volunteer trail building schedule, I'll just say - “It’s complicated”. In this update I will do my best to share what has happened over the last number of months:
Over the summer the city of Mount Vernon was audited, specifically on matters related risk exposure and their volunteer policies. Coming out of that audit mandates were made, and the new requirements affecting our group went into effect this year - and they follow:
First, all volunteer groups must enter into service agreements (contracts) with the City. Which resulted in WCIA, the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (acting for the City) providing a standard issue contract. WCIA's role is to support municipalities, they offer Specialty Insurance and risk management services. Due to the complexity and length of the contract (over 11 pages) we partnered with the Mount Vernon Parks Foundation, and together we hired an attorney who has since reviewed and amended the contract. The revised document is expected to be submitted to the City this week.
Second, we learned that volunteer groups must now provide their own liability insurance. We went out for quotes and, as expected, it will be fairly expensive. But the Parks Foundation again agreed to help; together we will find a way to fund these unexpected expenses. We trust that we are now entering a period of positive cooperation with the City. We are optimistic and look forward to resuming our work, but must be mindful that these details can take time. At the 'earliest' work might resume on February 11th...
Our friends at the Mount Vernon Parks Foundation deserve a great deal of credit. They are not only the umbrella organization that makes it possible for Trail Builders to operate as a non-profit, last year they went through a renewal - so the Foundation is stronger than ever.
The timing of the Foundation's regeneration could not have been better. Without the support of these talented and energetic volunteers we may not have been able to find a 'potential' path forward. I believe that they have engaged the City in both a positive and constructive way, addressing important matters like; the future of Little Mountain Park (including the building of more trails), plans for other beautiful parks in our area - and detailed discussions related to the future of volunteerism in Mount Vernon.
For the first time in months Mount Vernon Trail Builders is optimistic about continuing to fulfill an instrumental part in realizing the Little Mountain Park Master Plan. We are hopeful for minimal delays and are ready to get back to volunteering!
Jim "JT" Taylor
Founder & Executive Director
Mount Vernon Trail Builders