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RFP: Mural Square-Programming, Operations & Maintenance

Request for Proposals



The City of Poughkeepsie, Scenic Hudson, and the Poughkeepsie Alliance have been working together to design and build a temporary public space on Main Street.  The site is a City-owned vacant property near the intersection of Main and Market Streets that is commonly known as “Mural Square.”  The City is now looking for a third partner to coordinate programming, events, cleaning, and maintenance through the end of 2017.


Mural Square is a City-owned vacant site at 253 Main Street, one half block east of Market Street.  The site consists of two parcels, Tax ID# 6162-77-062103 and 6162-77-064109. The property was cleared for urban renewal but has sat vacant for decades with little or no interest in redevelopment.  Local artist Franc Palaia painted a mural titled, “Olde Main Street,” along the eastern side of the property in 2002, and the site previously hosted the Poughkeepsie farmers market, but it has only been used for holiday displays during the winter in recent years.

Many community members have looked at the property for years wondering if it could be made into a space that could add life and activity to Main Street.  Downtown Poughkeepsie Partnership, a group of Main Street business owners, and Oakwood Friends School, a local boarding and day school, took the first step two years ago by adding six planter-benches, which resulted in more community members using the site to eat lunch, chat with friends or rest while walking up or down Main Street.

This test case spurred interest in doing a larger pop-up project that would clean up the site, add more seating, and improve the landscaping.  After the City did not receive any responses to an RFP for the redevelopment of the property, Scenic Hudson, a regional environmental non-profit, worked with community members to generate ideas for a pop-up public space and potential programming by hosting a public meeting and engaging community members on Main Street over the lunch hour.  These ideas were then used to generate a concept design for the pop-up space, which was presented to the community at several public forums. The Poughkeepsie Alliance, a local non-profit consisting of business leaders and anchor institutions, agreed to manage fundraising and construction of the pop-up space if the City was able to find an operator to manage programming, cleaning and maintenance.

What is a pop-up public space?

Pop-up public spaces are an innovative strategy for bringing people to commercial areas and keeping them there longer. Communities take vacant lots and turn them into temporary gardens, public plazas or playgrounds, adding activity to a space that is otherwise a drain on street life. These pop-up spaces are designed to be low-cost and temporary, and use things like inexpensive chairs, tables, planters, shade devices and string lights to create attractive, friendly spaces for a fraction of the price of a permanent public space.

The material choices allow pop-up spaces to go in quickly, be rearranged, and removed at the end of the season.  Often the materials can be upgraded the next year or moved to a new location. This variability allows organizers to test what visitors like and make improvements between years without committing to a single, high-dollar design. It also enables pop-up public spaces to host myriad activities—from arts and education to music, dance and dining—and excel when partnered with events like food trucks, First Friday celebrations, and Farmers Markets.

Pop-up public spaces can have positive community benefits with their ability to draw-in large crows when they are well programmed. An annual pop-up public space in Center City Philadelphia attracted 50,000 visitors last year, enticing office workers to stay later and theatergoers to arrive early. Pop-up spaces also pay huge dividends in public safety by increasing what planners refer to as “eyes on the street.” More people spending more time on a street can help to discourage vagrancy, vandalism and other criminal activities because people are less likely to commit crimes when being watched by others.  If problems do arise, it is easy to test out ways to address any issues because they are designed to be flexible and use low-cost materials. That said, operators in many central urban areas have not experienced issues with crime or safety in their temporary public spaces.

Proposed Project

Scenic Hudson designed the pop-up space through a community-driven design process, Poughkeepsie Alliance has committed to managing fundraising and construction of the physical improvements, and the City is prepared to provide a license agreement to allow programming on the property. Many community-based organizations have expressed a strong interest in assisting with programming or maintenance, but Scenic Hudson, Poughkeepsie Alliance, and the City do not have the staff capacity to coordinate these potential partners. The City is now seeking a qualified group or individual to coordinate operation of the pop-up public space through the end of 2017.

This operator will be responsible for programming, cleaning and maintenance of the space.  In exchange, Poughkeepsie Alliance will provide an improved public space and the City will license the space for a nominal fee to the operator.  The operator will be entitled to any and all proceeds from organizing weekly and special events, with the possibility of a small subsidy to assist with startup costs for the first year.

The ideal applicant would be a non-profit, group of non-profits, or with non-profit support that can demonstrate connections to the community and local/regional cultural institutions that are interested in contributing to the project’s success.  Coalitions of organizations are encouraged to apply, but should be ready to identify one individual person or staff member as the manager and point of contact as well as the role of each member of the coalition.

Scope of Services and Deliverables

The operator must be able to provide diverse programming, maintain cleanliness of the public space, provide regular maintenance, meet city requirements, and be able to manage the bookkeeping from operating and maintaining the pop-up space.

Task 1: Maintain Active, Diverse Programming – Community meetings and discussions on Main Street revealed that community members were highly interested in potential programming for the pop-up space.  Community members recommended a wide variety of programming and stressed the need for the program to meet the needs of all people—young and old, resident and visitor, office worker and student.  They also stressed the need for the public space to maintain activity throughout the day and well into the evening.

As such, the core activity of the pop-up space operator will be to maintain a diverse array of programming throughout 2017.  This programming should have both recurring (daily/weekly/monthly) events that bring regular activity to the pop-up space, and special events that bring diversity and flexibility in how the space is used.  These activities should also be planned throughout the day (morning/afternoon/evening) and week (weekdays/weekends/holidays) to help bring greater activity to the pop-up space and Main Street.  The greatest concentration of activities should be in the evenings and on weekends.

While the operator will be responsible for selecting/coordinating programming and determining frequency, the following suggestions came from community members:

  1. Daily
    1. Pop-up coffee shop
    2. Food Trucks
    3. After work/school activities
  2. Weekly
    1. Farmers market
    2. Poughkeepsie Plenty Mobile Market (with Farmers Market or on alternate day)
    3. Outdoor exercise classes
    4. Chess/checkers lessons/tournament
    5. Childcare/youth programming
    6. Happy hour (catered, non-alcoholic)
    7. Outdoor movie
  3. Monthly
    1. First Friday Celebration
    2. Outdoor concerts
    3. Open mic/music competitions
    4. Job training/résumé workshops/professional networking
  4. Special Events
    1. Flea market
    2. Festivals
    3. Holiday displays
    4. Winter market

The operator should seek to partner with other local groups that may be interested in providing some of this programming, such as Poughkeepsie Earthday, O+ Festival, Poughkeepsie Open Studios, Nubian Directions, Dutchess Outreach, Poughkeepsie Plenty, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Common Ground Farm, Downtown Poughkeepsie Partnership, Scenic Hudson, Bardavon, Arts Mid-Hudson, Mid-Hudson Heritage Center, Art Centro, Dutchess County Community College, Marist College, Vassar College, Culinary Institute of America, Mid-Hudson Regional Medical Center, Vassar Brothers Hospital, Poughkeepsie City School District, and many more.

Additionally, certain special events, such as the Holiday Display, will need to continue on-site and be coordinated with City staff and accommodated into the schedule.

While not every minute of every day needs to be programmed, the pop-up space will be open from 6:00 am until sundown (same as other City public spaces) and the City would like to see enough activity that safety and security are maintained largely through activity rather than monitoring and policing. The organizer will plan a “grand opening” of the public space within two-months of being selected that signals the start of programming for the year.  The City does, however, anticipate that scheduled programming will initially be light and fill in throughout the year.

Finally, these activities and events will need to be broadly promoted in the Poughkeepsie Journal, via fliers, on social media, local newsletters, by word-of-mouth, and other potential venues.

  • Deliverable: Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly schedule of activities; promotion and outreach campaign; coordinate with City on special events.

Task 2: Maintain Clean, Safe, & Attractive Space – The operator will be responsible for ensuring the pop-up space is clean, safe, and well maintained.  This requirement includes but is not limited to:  daily trash pickup and removal, repairing benches, replanting flowers/grasses, replacing light bulbs, and removing graffiti.  The operator will also need to coordinate with the City Department of Public Works (DPW) on trash pick-up and graffiti removal

The operator will need to work out plans for cleaning, safety and maintenance with City officials. The operator may sub-contract out these services or work with a local partner organization with staff that can handle cleaning and maintenance.

  • Deliverable: Cleaning and maintenance plan; cleaning and maintenance budget; coordination with City DWP on trash removal; safety and emergency response plan; coordination with PD on safety monitoring; maintain quality public space throughout the year.

Required Proposal Content

Proposers are responsible for submitting their proposals to the appropriate location at or prior to the time indicated in the specifications.  No proposals will be accepted after the designated time or date indicated in the proposal specifications.  It is suggested that registered mail be used to submit proposals.  Delay in mail delivery is not an exception to the receipt of a proposal.

One (1) hard copy of the proposal and a digital PDF, referencing the project title “Mural Square: Programming, Operations & Maintenance” should be submitted no later than 3pm, March 22, 2017 to:

Deanne Flynn| City Clerk’s Office
City of Poughkeepsie
62 Civic Center Plaza
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
[email protected]

All inquiries must be written and submitted in writing by email. Questions or clarifications to the technical specifications must be made in writing by email to Paul Hesse, Community Development Coordinator at [email protected] by March 10, 2017. Telephone calls are not permissible. All submitted questions and answers will be compiled and posted as an addendum to the RFP on March 15, 2017 on the City’s website at http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/purchasing/

Proposers should submit a proposal which includes, at a minimum:

  • Cover letter:
    • Identify and introduce the operating organization, the designated manager for this project (or process and timeline for hiring the position), and any other staff, including staff bios, that will be involved (including full contact information);
    • Identify potential partners (individuals, organizations or community groups) that will/might help with programming, cleaning and maintenance (letters of support are recommended).
  • Programming Outline for 2017, Including:
    • General approach to providing programming, particularly for nights and weekends;
    • Preliminary timeline for weekly, monthly and special events through the end of 2017, including: grand opening, First Fridays, Farmers Market (or other weekly events), harvest festival and holiday display (smaller events can be added later after operator is selected);
    • Outline of youth engagement, including but not limited to any of the following: youth programming (multiple age groups), employment, partnership, education, job training/résumé workshops, professional networking, and outreach/advertising;
    • Clear proposal for grand opening event.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance Outline for 2017, Including:
    • Identify group, organization, process or contractor who will be responsible for cleaning (letter or contract recommended);
    • Identify group, organization, process or contractor who will be responsible for maintaining pop-up improvements (letter or contract recommended);
  • Safety Outline for 2017, Including:
    • Outline of potential partnership with City Police (letter of support recommended);
    • Approach to addressing homelessness, squatting or vagrancy;
    • Outline emergency response plan, including initial point of contact (will be developed further with City Police).
    • Outline security requirements for events, if needed.
  • Advertising Outline for 2017, Including:
    • Outline of advertising types that will be used;
    • Budget of advertising costs expected;
    • Social media strategy;
    • Schedule of potential donated serves.
  • Detailed Budget for 2017, with schedule of costs by task with all expenses explained, including:
    • Expense Budget, including staff, contractual services, overhead, licenses or fees, advertising, and estimated replacement costs;
    • Revenue Budget, including anticipated booking fees for booths, food trucks, special events, and/or other potential sources;
    • Subsidy Budget, including expected costs and expenses covered (if expenses exceed revenue for 2017);
    • Schedule of potential donated serves (letter of support recommended).
  • Proof that the organization or organizations are licensed to conduct business in the State of New York or a statement that the organization or organizations will take the necessary steps to achieve such certification;
  • Proof that the organization or organizations have necessary workers compensation and insurance certificates;
  • Disclosure of any current or anticipated work for the City of Poughkeepsie or any other client work in the City of Poughkeepsie.

Proposal Evaluation and Operator Selection

The City of Poughkeepsie is open to partnerships among individuals, organizations or groups who will best create an active urban public space. A single individual (with support of a non-profit) or organization with experience actively programing and maintaining public spaces is logical, but multi-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged. These groups should indicate whether or not the team has worked together previously and how they plan to work together on this project. A strong proposal will outline plans for all aspects of the project (programing, cleaning, maintenance, safety, and partnerships) while indicating how those plans will be filled in between being selected and the first major event.

The proposer must demonstrate skills, similar experience, and availability of specialists, professionals or other organizations on the proposer’s team to contribute to the overall project or address limitations of the main organizer. The award of this project will be based on experience, references, as well as the quality of outlined plan financial proposal.

Proposals will be evaluated and reviewed by a Selection Committee. Criteria for evaluation are as follows:

  • Strength and experience of the Organizer (20%)
  • Quality of the partnerships with other organizations (20%)
  • Quality and completeness of proposal (15%)
  • Clearly stated and detailed scope of services and costs (10%)
  • Costs sufficiently itemized by task for comparison to other proposals received (5%)
  • Successful history of similar projects completed on time, within budget, with references provided (15%)
  • Familiarity with the study area (15%)

Qualified proposers may be asked to make a presentation to the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will require that all key managerial personnel, as well as key personnel working on the project be in attendance at the proposal presentation. The presentations will be made to provide the Committee with an opportunity to obtain an understanding of:

  • The extent of the individual, organization or group’s depth of knowledge of the subject matter of the RFP and the organization’s perception of what the Committee requires;
  • Whether the methods and resources that will be used by the organization in performing services to achieve the project goals and objectives are appropriate, and cost effective; and
  • The individual, organization or group’s ability to draw together partners with the necessary skills and experience to contribute to the overall project.

Evaluation Timeline

  • February 10th : City issues Request for Proposal.
  • March 22nd : Proposals Due to City
  • April 7th : Selected Operator Announced
  • April 20th: Pop-up Public Space Completed

City’s Role in the Project

City staff will assist the operator with requested information in the City’s possession and be active participants throughout the project. The City Community Development Coordinator will be assigned as the project liaison. The Coordinator will be the City’s Project Manager. The City will arrange and host meetings at City Hall or other locations in the study area, as necessary and at no charge to the selected Operator.

City’s Right to modify or terminate RFP process

Notwithstanding any other provision of this RFP and without any liability to any prospective applicant, the City of Poughkeepsie reserves the unilateral right to postpone submission deadlines, reject any and all proposals, negotiate with one or more respondents, seek additional input from one or more respondents (but not necessarily all respondents), waive any requirement of this RFP, and modify or withdraw this RFP.

RFP Documents