A Request for Proposal is a public announcement that government agencies issue to invite businesses, like skatepark designers and builders, to come up with a solution for a particular problem. A community may issue an RFP for “a skatepark.”
When a skatepark company finds an RFP describing a skatepark project, they will evaluate whether that project looks like something that they are qualified and interested in. They might feel like the project is too small (not lucrative enough), too remote (too expensive to get to), or occurring at a time when they are too busy (don’t have the capacity to get the job done).
It’s perfectly legal — and encouraged — for advocates to contact their favorite skatepark designer to encourage them to review the public RFP. In other words, a city or an advocate can contact a skatepark design or builder directly to “promote” their project. However, it is unethical for anyone involved with the project to reveal proprietary information about the project to a potential candidate. For example, it would not be ethical for the local advocate to share with one vendor the bid of a competing vendor because it would allow one to strategically underbid the other. Everything the designer needs to know about the project should be included in the published RFP, and everything an advocate needs to advertise the project should be contained within the RFP. Because the RFP is a public document, it can be posted, shared, and promoted.
The RFP, published online or sent directly via email, will ask skatepark companies to submit a proposal. The proposal must answer specific questions about the company’s qualifications and experience building skateparks, and include particular documents. After the RFP deadline, the selection committee reviews all of the submitted proposals and scores them according to their answers. Submitting the proposal is usually free but the skatepark company puts time and effort to create the proposal, and that costs them money in staff time, expenses, and so on.
RFPs are used by government agencies when the project requires a particular kind of skill that cannot be easily measured. These projects, like public parks, have artistic qualities that are hard to quantify. If they weren’t important, a Parks Department could simply hire those companies offering the lowest price, but then the resulting parks would not serve the community’s needs.
For example, an RFP may ask the submitting organization for the following:
- Cover letter
- Price estimate for design
- Time-frame for design
- Price estimate for construction
- Time-frame for construction
- Project team
- Contractor capabilities
- Project understanding
- Supporting information
Note: A schematic (or concept) design is not required but some companies will include one hoping that it will increase their chances to win the project. The skatepark concept illustration can make the proposal more engaging and memorable, but a design at this stage — before the designer has met with local skaters — is not much value to the advocacy group.
When you review the proposals, you might see some concepts that you like but don’t let the appeal of a “free” design interfere with your decision. While it is interesting to see how a skatepark idea can be interpreted by different companies, it is important to understand that the quality of these concept drawings does not always reflect that company’s experience or reputation in the skateboarding world. In other words, a company’s ability to “sell themselves” with exquisite illustrations and marketing materials should not be considered a measure of their ability to produce terrific skateparks.
A good rule of thumb is that “free” skatepark designs, or anything else for that matter, are never truly free; someone is paying to have it made, and that someone is probably you.
Each item is assessed and scored by the review committee. The review committee is composed of a small number of individuals representing different stakeholder groups. A selection committee might typically include a city planner, a parks administrator, someone from maintenance, a person from the neighborhood council, and someone representing the skateboarding community.
Some of the items are more important than others, so those items have the possibility of receiving more points. For example, the cover letter is not critical, so it can only receive a maximum of a few points. The contractor’s capabilities, on the other hand, are VERY important so this will receive a lot of points.
The submitted proposals are received by the city and submitted to a skatepark review committee. This committee is assembled by the city and should have some skaters — particularly one or two people from the core group — invited to be on it. Contact your city and ask who is on the review committee and if there’s value in having you on it.
The review committee will evaluate each submission using a consistent system. The evaluation system will feature a dozen or so different qualities that each candidate is scored on. The candidate with the highest total score is invited to design the skatepark.
Sample Request for Proposal
City or Organization Name
NOTICE TO CONSULTANTS – REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
FOR DESIGN SERVICES OF A SKATEPARK
City or Organization Name
Date of publication
City or Organization Name
Request for Proposals
For Design Services of a Skatepark
The City of Smallville is requesting proposals from qualified professional engineering firms for Design Services (herein after referred to as “Project”) for the Skatepark Project. The intent of the Project is for the Firm to provide complete design services (including community design workshops, conceptual design, final plans and specifications, engineering cost estimate, construction surveying, contract documents, and environmental documents) for the installation of a skatepark at (location by intersection or street address), to the City of Smallville standards.
(Insert city description with an emphasis on project background as it pertains to the design) The City of Smallville is a rural community, established in 1925, located in the farm belt of Capital County. Smallville is home to approximately 30,000 people and is considered the rodeo capital of the world. The City of Smallville is seeking proposals to work with the City and the community to determine the design and appearance of a new community skatepark.
The proposed Project must meet the common standards for the latest skatepark design principles primarily for skateboarders, scooters, and BMX riders to develop their skills. The design shall be naturally integrated with the surrounding environment and feature a mix of street and transitional-style terrain, with elements designed for all age groups and ability levels. The design of the Project should draw and engage local users to the skatepark and will challenge both beginners and experienced users.
SCOPE OF WORK
The scope of work outlines the tasks required to complete the Project in its entirety to meet the goals of:
A concept that is focused on skateboarding, but allows the potential impact of a mixed-use public skatepark, a sense of community, a quality street-skating environment, an engaging and aesthetically pleasing design, environmentally sustainable design, and a cohesive sense of place.
- Providing preliminary engineering design
- Providing community outreach
Identifying features to mimic natural street-skating and skatepark environments (including ledges, pads, banks, rails, stair-sets, and other natural transitions) as guided by the City and the community.
Providing complete plans, specifications and engineering, engineering surveying and design services for the construction of a skatepark for the Project, including community outreach, preliminary design, environmental documentation, engineering cost estimates, final design, plans and specifications, complete contract documents for bidding and other work as necessary to provide a complete Project.
- Providing potential phasing of the project based on available funding for the Project
- Providing bidding oversight
- Providing engineering services during construction
LOCATION OF PROJECT
The location of the Project is the X-corner of Pioneer Road and Main Street. The site is approximately 0.5 acres that is relatively flat.