Hemming Park Nonprofit Names Interim CEO

Aug 1, 2016

Credit SAPHARA HARRELL / WJCT News

Friends of Hemming Park CEO Vince Cavin has resigned as head of the nonprofit.

Interim CEO Bill Prescott, who was serving on the nonprofit's board, announced the leadership change at Monday’s Neighborhoods, Community Investments and Services Committee meeting at City Hall.

Prescott said Cavin resigned over the weekend. 

Funding for the park has been up in the air after it nearly ran out of money earlier this year

In May, the nonprofit, which had already spent about $1 million city dollars, had asked for $250,000 to make it until the end of the year, but the city agreed to just $100,000, pending an audit.

The $250,000 had been  aside for the park in a special contingency fund, but council members said it wasn’t guaranteed.

The City Council is considering a bill that would fund operations through the rest of the year.

Prescott, the former chief financial officer of the Jacksonville Jaguars, said as interim CEO, he’ll focus on park safety, programming and finances.

“How do we right the ship in terms of going forward?” he said at Monday’s meeting. “I think it’s fiscal policy. It’s going in and understanding in detail what the accounting is, what the expenditures are. My background as a previous CFO allows me to have some of that skillset to put that in place and I think what’s also important is ‘how do we begin to do the fundraising for the park?’”

A recent audit of the nonprofit recommended Council make ground rules for how it can spend city money. Prescott says he will make sure all Hemming spending is for business purposes.

Council member Matt Schellenberg has been  critical over the nonprofit’s spending following the audit, saying in a recent committee meeting its purchases were extravagant.

“(The spending) doesn't have any care whatsoever for the taxpayers money that you were given,” he said to Prescott earlier this month who was then representing Hemming as a board member.

An email from Friends of Hemming Park Monday following the announcement of Cavin’s resignation quoted Cavin saying, “It has been a privilege as well as a distinctive challenge to serve as the chief executive officer of Friends of Hemming Park for the last two years.

"... I hope my departure can alleviate on-going distractions related to past decisions and help push the necessary conversation about what is the best direction for the park and its next level of achievement.”