PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
City Council Chamber
Monday, June 13, 2005, 2005
CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Swanson called the meeting to order at 6:32 p.m.
Commissioner Russell led the flag salute.
| Present :
Kathleen Baier-Dalton, Virginia Han, Pamela Keller, George Miller, Craig Russell, Neil Swanson
| Absent :
| Staff :
Parks and Recreation Director Ron Molendyk; Parks and Recreation Managers Grace Carroll-Miranda, Randy McDaniel, Judy Peterson, and Pat Trotter; Park Projects Intern Sandy Willis; Acting Landscape Superintendent Dennis Quinlivan
Director Molendyk noted the memo he sent to the Commission announcing Park Projects Manager Randy McDaniel's resignation to take a position with his old employer in the private sector. He thanked him for his contributions to the Department and his dedication to his projects over the past five years. Director Molendyk also reminded the Commissioners of Manager McDaniel's going-away party on June 15th, saying a plaque will be presented to him at that time.
Manager McDaniel thanked the Commission, saying he enjoyed working with the public and the Fullerton residents on his many projects, but that he couldn't pass up this career opportunity. He also thanked the commissioners for their commitment to the City, saying it was a pleasure working with them.
Director Molendyk also noted other changes in Department personnel, including Joe Felz, now Interim Assistant to the City Manager, Dannielle Mauk, now Interim Cultural and Events Manager, and Stacy Michalak, now Interim Cultural Events Specialist. He said the Department is also preparing for Manager Pat Trotter's retirement and party which will be the week of July 12th. He said that they have also divided the park projects up among the division managers, with the assistance of Sandy Willis, Park Projects Intern, who was in the audience, who will be working more hours along with Denise Buchanan, Park Projects Specialist, who was not there due to a car accident she was in.
On behalf of the Commission, Chair Swanson also wished Manager McDaniel the best in his new venture.
ACTION ITEMS (Items 1 - 5)
*1. MINUTES OF THE MAY 9, 2005 REGULAR MEETING
Commissioner Miller MADE A MOTION to approve the minutes of the May 9, 2005 regular meeting as written. Commissioner Dalton SECONDED THE MOTION.
Per Chair Swanson, the minutes were APPROVED AS WRITTEN.
*2. IZAAK WALTON CABIN LEASE AGREEMENT RENEWAL
Director Molendyk introduced the Izaak Walton Cabin lease agreement renewal item, noting that the Cabin, located in Hillcrest Park, is owned by the City, but was built by the League with an ongoing agreement to split the revenue, 50%-50% because the Izaak Walton volunteers open and close the facility while the City books the cabin and collects fees. He said the proposed agreement would be similar except that the split would be 60% to the City and 40% to Izaak Walton, noting that a slightly revised agreement was provided tonight because of a change to the insurance requirements after the agenda packets were sent out. The new agreement in the agenda packet had included a new clause requiring that the Izaak Walton League provide indemnification; however, upon further review, it was determined that because the Cabin is owned by the City, this insurance would not be necessary; hence the revised agreement provided tonight.
Manager Grace Miranda made herself available for questions and Commissioner Han asked about the 50/50 split, asking if the change to 60/40 was to cover only increases in maintenance and general expenses, or if the City would receive any revenue or profit; she also asked how much money was usually collected. Manager Miranda responded that the average rental is about $120, so the League would receive $60 and the City $60, and that it was less expensive to have the League open and setup the tables and chairs which they've bought themselves. With 138 rentals last year, the City received about $14,000. Commissioner Dalton asked who was carrying the insurance, and was told the City carried the insurance.
Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to approve the recommendation as written. Commissioner Miller SECONDED THE MOTION.
Chair Swanson called for the vote.
AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Swanson
The MOTION CARRIED unanimously.
*3. TENNIS CENTER RENOVATION PROPOSAL
Director Molendyk gave a background and history on the Tennis Center, noting that Department staff had identified the Tennis Center as well as the Municipal Golf Course as potential capital improvement projects. With the Sunny Hills Racquet Club closing down, there were more calls from the public to better meet the tennis needs of the City. He also acknowledged the donated work and time of Rick Crane, a local architect and Jeff Hutchinson, a local contractor who provided architectural renderings and cost analysis for the proposed Tennis Center renovations. Director Molendyk also introduced Grace Miranda, Division Manager, who would make a presentation and Dave Mann, Tennis Center supervisor and tennis specialist, noting that members of the North Orange County Tennis Club (NOCTC) were at tonight's meeting. He further noted that, besides staff and professional consultant input, staff had met with players at the Tennis Center to get their input, and that funding was available in the budget this year for planning, with funding for construction in the next year's budget.
Manager Miranda introduced three members of the NOCTC, Ken Farah, President, and members Ron Beisel and Carol Davenroy, saying they were the impetus for the proposed renovations. She said the NOCTC wanted to add a concession area where currently only two vending machines stand as well as a small weight room, and the locker room/restrooms were especially in dire need of renovations. In addition, Sunny Hills Racquet Club closed at about that time, and its members were choosing between La Habra's Tennis Center and Fullerton's. Rick Crane and Jeff Hutchinson, avid tennis players, also approached the Department saying they would like to continue going to the Tennis Center and met with her and Park Projects Manager Randy McDaniel.
Manager Miranda said she then met with the NOCTC who were also very encouraging, adding that this history was included in the agenda letter. She showed a renovation plan that was brought to the NOCTC and posted for player comments at the Tennis Center for six weeks. 8 of 10 comment cards were extremely supportive, the other 2 were not against but had concerns about how much the rates would be raised, and the parking which is a problem.
Manager Miranda used a large site plan to describe the details of the improvements with the commissioners, showing the improvements including the lockerroom/bathroom, a front entrance which would provide staff with greater foot traffic control, an office and check-in area and a small pro shop for convenience items and racquet stringing. In addition, there was a proposed kitchen area similar to a break room to support barbecues and other events to retain and entice new members, and patio, barbecue and eating areas.
Director Molendyk interjected that, as with any group that meets on an ongoing basis, the social aspect is important, and that social interaction isn't currently possible on a cold day as there is only an outside area. Hosting tournaments would also be more likely with better amenities. He also acknowledged that parking is an issue, and said commissioners Miller and Spencer are looking at agreements with surrounding businesses that have leases with the City to improve parking availability for the Tennis Center, perhaps to have reciprocal agreements during large events; however, they would explore this when they were further along in the process. Manager Miranda agreed, saying she had also informed the Army Corps of Engineers who own the property on which the Tennis Center is located. Director Molendyk said the budget also includes funds for tennis court windscreens and resurfacing of the courts. He added that some people have asked to add more courts, but that there wasn't enough room.
Commissioner Han asked for a description of the current kitchen, and asked about the bathrooms. Manager Miranda said there is currently no kitchen, and that they plan to construct a total of three toilet stalls and a shower each for men and women as there is currently only one stall and one shower each. Director Molendyk said they must work with what space they have, but will better utilize the space. In addition, if the Tennis Center is hosting a larger event, trailers with showers and restrooms can be rented and placed in the parking lot.
Commissioner Miller asked who would be staffing the new facility, pro shop and all of the cooking and serving. Manager Miranda said extra staff wouldn't be needed as the kitchen was for the convenience of the current patrons, saying that the kitchen would probably be smaller than shown, and that this was only a conceptual plan. Commissioner Miller asked what staff would like the Commission to do, and Manager McDaniel and Director Molendyk said they would like to have the Commission's approval for the basic concept, and that they would hire a consultant to develop and refine an actual plan. Commissioner Miller noted that half of the space seemed to be for eating, and couldn't personally approve of the plan as currently laid out. Commissioner Han said she approved of the plan. Manager Miranda reiterated that this was only a concept plan with the basic idea of an eating area, kitchen, weight room, etc. Director Molendyk explained that the spaces were not just about food, but could provide a meeting room indoors where there are now only picnic tables outside.
Commissioner Russell asked for a one-minute synopsis of the relationship between the facility, the City, and the users, and how revenue was earned. Manager Miranda said it was a City facility, and City-run by full-time supervisor Dave Mann and about eight part-time staff although the NOCTC considers the Tennis Center its home. She said the City receives a large part of its revenues from court rentals and different leagues who play there as well as Servite, Rosary and Magnolia high schools who rent the Center.
When asked, she said they receive about $200,000 in income that is used to operate the Center on a break-even basis. Commissioner Miller asked if the City Council would approve of spending $800,000 on a tennis center that produces no income when Council is talking about the lack of money and sewers that need repair. Director Molendyk said, just as with the Golf Course, in order to make money, one has to spend money and upgrade the facility, which will increase use and, therefore, revenue. He further noted that the funds to be spent on the Tennis Center are from the Brea Dam Funds and can't be used on sewers or public utilities, but must be spent on public recreation.
Commissioner Swanson asked why Sunny Hills Racquet Club failed, what activity and revenue increases occurred at the Tennis Center due to this failure, and why more revenue came to La Habra Tennis Center instead of Fullerton. He also asked what kind of revenues could be expected from the renovations. Manager Miranda said the La Habra Tennis Center used to be in poor condition, but about two years ago, the concessionaire, Dave Miller, invested a lot of money in the courts and became a competitor. However, many of the Fullerton players who went over to La Habra, have returned, resulting in an upturn in business. Center Supervisor Dave Mann answered the question about Sunny Hills Racquet Club closing, saying it did not so much fail as that the owner could make much more money from selling the land due to the large increases in real estate prices. Director Molendyk said that if commissioners still have many questions, they can return to the issue as it was only in the conceptual stage. However, he learned in the meetings he attended that part of what Sunny Hills offered was an opportunity to socialize in the morning or after work, just like other interest groups who want to discuss their performance.
Ken Farah, President of NOCTC, said due to the drop in members and players going to La Habra, the club made a list of ideas to retain members and improve the Tennis Center and the overall tennis experience. He said they run tournaments and pointed out Ron Beisel who also runs successful tournaments, saying that the facilities must be able to support those tournaments and the other clubs who visit and play. Mr. Farah also noted Carol Davenroy in the audience saying she was the vice-president of the club. He acknowledged how nice the courts are and that everyone compliments them on them, but said they must improve the lockerrooms, seating and parking. He thanked the Commission for its consideration.
Vice-President Carol Davenroy said she was responsible for organizing the tournaments, and that the tennis players aren't a segregated group, but just happen to enjoy that sport just as others like to swim. She said a part of the tennis events is providing food. She said the players are eating and drinking between matches, and don't just sit there, but as Director Molendyk said, they need to have a place to chat about their matches, and keep foods hot or cold, hence the new seating area and kitchen.
Ms. Davenroy described the current lack of locker room/restroom amenities, noting that the only sink is in the shower, so one can't wash one's hands if someone is taking a shower. She said one restroom isn't enough for women, especially when they have to get back on the court and can't wait in line. She also noted the lack of storage including lockers that are rusted shut, and said they are not asking for luxurious facilities, just something nice and serviceable. She said the club is not asking for air conditioning or upholstered furniture, just a nicer, cleaner facility without dirty, "rickety" picnic tables, many of which the NOCTC had donated. She thanked the Commissioners for their time.
Commissioner Miller asked about the short hallway next to the showers, and Manager McDaniel said that was the entrance to the main court seating. Director Molendyk invited the Commissioners to tour the facility to become more familiar with what they are trying to do, noting that the architect, Rick Crane, is trying to build within what they have to keep expenses down. Manager Miranda agreed, saying that the plan is within the original footprint other than the patio/deck. Commissioner Miller said it seemed like they needed a bigger locker room, and that they were "short-changing" themselves with the current plan. Manager Miranda agreed, saying Center Supervisor Dave Mann had also mentioned the lack of storage, saying they would probably take some space from the kitchen, weight room and pro shop in the concept plan, and would use it for storage. Director Molendyk said the Commission is also asking for more room for the locker room/restroom facilities, too. Carol Davenroy said they were also asked if storage space could be made under the deck since it would be raised.
Commissioner Keller asked how much funding was in the Brea Dam Fund, and Director Molendyk said there was probably about $600,000, plus there would be park dwelling fees although some of that money would need to be used for rain damage in the parks. He agreed with Commissioner Keller that not all of the funding would come from the Brea Dam Fund.
Commissioner Miller asked about the vending machines and if there is a concessionaire interested in the Tennis Center. He was told only water and soda are provided. Manager Miranda said the vending machines do fairly well, and agreed with Commissioner Miller that food vending machines might be a possibility.
Director Molendyk said the project has been moved up on the CIP list due to community interest, saying they hope to have completed construction in about a year. He further added that another goal is to generate revenue in order to rely less on general funds, and that they hope to increase revenues with the improvements; however, currently, the Tennis Center is already paying its own way and does not use general funds.
Commissioner Russell said they should move along and make a recommendation; however, he did have a question regarding the dining room area and if it could be used for other non-Tennis Center events, and whether the City currently does anything else with it. Manager Miranda agreed that they could use it for other events although they don't do so now. She said St. Jude does use two courts for their Health-a-Thon and agreed the dining room space could be used for City classes as well.
Commissioner Swanson asked when NOCTC began, the President of NOCTC said 1969, before the Tennis Center was built and asked if there was an agreement with them. Manager Miranda said there was no agreement, and also acknowledged the many donations from the NOCTC to the Tennis Center including patio tables, chairs at the court, and windscreens through a partnership.
Commissioner Russell asked whether an agreement exists, and Grace said "no". He asked what would happen if NOCTC decided to go somewhere else, leaving us with the expenses. Manager Miranda and Supervisor Mann said there are about 14 other leagues using the facility, so the City could find another group, if needed.
Manager Miranda agreed with Commissioner Miller when he suggested that the Department is merely looking for an initial approval of the idea and that staff would return with another layout. Commissioner Miller than MADE A MOTION to approve the Tennis Center renovation concept plan, and Commissioner Russell SECONDED THE MOTION.
Director Molendyk commented that the Department is asking staff to be more entrepreneurial, a part of which is customer relations. If the facility is renovated and maintained, with good customer relations and reasonable fees, this would prevent NOCTC from wanting to leave. Manager Miranda agreed, saying they also have a very strong Juniors program with 90 users who come weekly, plus others.
Commissioner Swanson asked about the $200,000 in annual revenue, and how much comes from the NOCTC; he was told about 10% - 15%. He also asked what rights the NOCTC has over other groups that might want to come, and was told "squatters rights" and that NOCTC has "good sharing skills".
Commissioner Dalton asked about the proposed parking lot, and Manager Miranda said that Architect Rick Crane suggested using that space to build extra parking because of the known parking problems and because the space was too small for a court, contingent on Army Corps of Engineers approval. Commissioner Dalton said she is a tennis player and has visited the facility; however, probably most of the Commission wasn't familiar with it. Therefore, she proposed a Commission visit to the Tennis Center to improve its understanding of the needs and issues, and Manager Miranda said she would arrange this.
Chair Swanson asked if there was further discussion and NOCTC Vice-President Carol Davenroy added that the Dana Point Tennis Center is a public facility and is "a really nice facility", if Commissioners are wondering how nice a public facility could or should be.
Chair Swanson called for the vote.
AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Swanson
The MOTION CARRIED unanimously.
*4. SPORTS FIELD APPEAL COMMITTEE
Director Molendyk introduced the Sports Field Appeal Committee agenda item, saying that the Parks and Recreation Leisure Services Division coordinates 128 sports fields during the year and noting the Sports Field Users meeting coming up on June 29th. He said this past year was the first year he had had the opportunity to observe the process and that, overall, staff does a very good job considering all the demands on the fields. Although there were a few minor scheduling conflicts, these were resolved; however, due to the demands placed on the facilities, it was decided that establishing a Sports Field Appeal Committee, as approved by Council in 1977, would be advisable. The Committee would meet on an as-needed basis to handle any unusual issues relating to field use. Director Molendyk then asked Leisure Services Division Manager Grace Miranda to make her presentation.
Manager Miranda said that as she reviewed the 1977 Council "Policies and Procedures for Assigning Sports Facilities", she realized that many of the issues were still the same although it appeared that the Appeal Committee had never been established. However, with Fields Coordinator Carol Whitaker's valuable assistance, they've been able to improve the field allocation process. And, with the June 29th Field Users Committee meeting coming up, Manager Miranda said she would like to have the Commission approve the establishment of the Sports Field Appeal Committee, in the unlikely event there are conflicts in field usage that come up at that meeting. She explained that this would eliminate the need for staff to step in and be the referee; hence, Council's decision to have the Committee. Director Molendyk agreed, saying this would be a fair way to ensure that certain individuals would go through the Commission and Appeal Committee prior to contacting City Council.
Manager Miranda said the committee would be consist of three to seven members, noting that she had suggested some possible members besides commissioners including a Fullerton School District Representative, Gary Drabek, who is the district liaison, a Maintenance Department staff not attending the Sports Field Users Group such as Wayne Elms, Grounds Maintenance Lead Worker, Parks and Recreation Senior Administrative Analyst Alice Loya who has had experience with the leagues but is no longer involved, and Dan Wood, a past league representative. She said it was up to the Commission to create the 3 - 7 member group. Director Molendyk said the Department doesn't currently have a means of enforcing the policy with some individuals who violate policy, hence the need for the Appeal Committee.
Commissioner Russell asked if the Commission would ultimately decide who would choose the membership of the Committee, or if it would be staff. Director Molendyk said staff is recommending that the Appeal Committee be put in place, and that the members be representative of the community and appointed by the Commission. Commissioner Russell said he's trying to ensure complete impartiality, but asked if school or City staff reps were necessary, if most conflicts were between field users, and also asked if it could be persons totally unrelated to the City or School District. Manager Miranda said it was up to the Commissioners although one Parks and Recreation commissioner is required, could even be all commissioners, reiterating that the Appeal Committee would rarely, if ever, meet; however, this would help the field users settle their differences if they know the issue would go to an impartial group. Commissioner Russell said he hated to see public money spent on City or school staff if the rules don't require it; Director Molendyk agreed but said a salaried, not hourly, staff should still be available to answer questions even if s/he weren't on the committee.
Commissioner Miller said he didn't know much about this issue and, in jest, that he probably didn't want to know that much about this issue; however, he agreed with Commissioner Russell that they should reduce the number of members on the Committee because it was easier to work with.
Chair Swanson asked if staff wanted to make recommendations for appointment to the Appeal Committee tonight, and Manager Miranda agreed, and asked if they had a certain number of members in mind. Commissioner Swanson said the number of committee members should be odd, at least two Commissioners, acknowledging that they should ensure there wasn't a bias regarding certain leagues, Landscape Division staff, and staff like Carol Whitaker to mediate who really understand the needs.
Commissioner Dalton asked if the league requirements were being met per the Policy; Manager Miranda agreed the compliance had improved greatly, saying that Carol Whitaker is enforcing those requirements. Commissioner Dalton said the Appeal Committee could also assist in ensuring compliance.
Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to establish a Sports Field Appeal Committee consisting of five members. Commissioner Keller SECONDED THE MOTION. Commissioner Russell suggested instead of two commissioners, there be only one commissioner since the Commission will be the next step if the Appeal Committee doesn't resolve the problem, and the Commission Appeal Committee member not be a league person either; however, one of the other four Appeal Committee members could be a league person. Commissioner Dalton agreed, saying this would protect people from questions of impropriety or favoritism. Commissioner Miller said it sounded like it would be Commissioner Dalton; she agreed.
Chair Swanson asked who the other four people would be, agreeing with Comissioner Russell that a School District representative doesn't need to be there since the City utilizes the field after hours. Commissioner Dalton agreed, saying that a Maintenance person would be important as he would know the fields; Manager Miranda concurred. Acting Landscape Superintendent Dennis Quinlivan proffered his staff, Wayne Elms. Chair Swanson said, based on the direction of the discussion, he would recommend, Analyst Loya, Lead Worker Elms and Commissioner Keller. However, Commissioner Keller commented that she has three boys on Golden Hill Little League and her husband made the league website. Chair Swanson asked Commissioner Dalton to be on the committee and Dalton agreed.
Commissioner Russell said he was changing his mind to amend Commissioner Dalton's motion and change it to three members since someone like Dan Wood is "a great guy, but he's a Pony guy", just as Commissioner Russell wouldn't want himself or Chair Swanson on the Committee because they were involved in Little League. Commissioner Russell said he was also re-thinking the City staff issue because if it's someone outside of the City, they may forget what the Committee is about if they get called six months later while staff would not forget. Commissioner Dalton added that it is logical to have people who are familiar with the fields, thus she AMENDED THE MOTION to establish a three-member appeal board with one commissioner, Commissioner Dalton, and two at-large members, Wayne Elms of Maintenance, and Alice Loya of Parks and Recreation. Commissioner Russell SECONDED THE MOTION.
Chair Swanson called for the vote.
AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Swanson
The MOTION CARRIED unanimously.
Commissioner Russell said he would look at the "Policies and Procedures for Assigning Sports Facilities", and asked if any changes were needed, if Commission could approve them or if Council would have to approve. It was confirmed that Council approved the original policy; however, Director Molendyk said he would find out if it was necessary to go back to Council for any changes. Commissioner Russell said there were items in the Policy which, when he was with Little League, he thought were difficult to comply with, but that "now that I'm on the other side," there were requirements not asked of the leagues that he felt should be made. He was given kudos for his honesty, and added that he might not return with any issues depending on what he finds out.
*5. FULLERTON SPORTS COMPLEX PLAYGROUND SAFETY MEASURES
Director Molendyk said members of the community brought the issue of foul balls going over the baseball backstop into the nearby play area at the Fullerton Sports Complex to the City's attention. Thus, the City, on a recommendation from Risk Management, fenced off the play area, posted a sign, and researched the possible solutions. He said Park Projects Manager Randy McDaniel would make a presentation about his research, provide possible solutions and then would ask for the Commissioners' recommendations on which project meets the safety needs of the playground while maintaining design integrity at the Sports Complex.
Chair Swanson asked which solution Risk Management would approve, saying they could talk all day, but if Risk Management doesn't approve it, the recommendation would be moot. Director Molendyk asked that Manager McDaniel be allowed to make the presentation first with the pros and cons and possible compromises.
Manager McDaniel made a Power Point presentation, saying this agenda item was a safety issue regarding protecting children in the play area, something recognized by Risk Management. He said improvements were made about a year ago, including extending the backstop upwards; however, there were still many foul balls falling in the play area, resulting in Risk Management ordering the Department to fence the area off and find potential solutions.
Manager McDaniel described a meeting with Unocal, the landscape architect who designed the park, and users, coming up with the solutions listed in the agenda letter. However, he said the backstop extensions would never eliminate the foul balls, and netting over the backstop/home plate area would reduce playability and wouldn't eliminate curving foul balls. Fencing with netting wasn't structurally possible due to the wind loads on the net. Other possible solutions such as eliminating aluminum bats might help, but wouldn't eliminate foul balls entirely; another solution was changing older players to a different field, but this wouldn't eliminate weekend random players on the big field, and would take away one of the only large fields in Fullerton.
Manager McDaniel said the solution seems to be a shade over the play area which protects it from foul balls and also provides shade and recreational value on hot days, a solution supported by all the field users. He presented the bids from Shade Structures and Custom Canopies, showing the different options and prices for a shade structure:
Option #1 was a rectangle covering the whole playground and cost $60,000. It was made of canvas material, just like the skate park, had a 10-year warranty on the structure, a 7- or 8-year life on the canvas, was very sturdy, and met the building code. Chair Swanson asked how vandal-resistant it was and Manager McDaniel said the shade cover is 10 - 12 feet high, noting that the skate park has one that has survived. He added that the playground users he spoke with (and invited to the meeting but didn't show up), indicated they "would love a shade structure there."
Option #2 showed interconnecting canopies, cost $71,000 and was about 40 x 60 feet. There was some potential for balls coming through two canopy sails; however, it was a lower structure than Option #1 so it might better reduce the number of balls coming through.
Option #3 showed a $110,995 structure 30' x 60' with 3 fancy interconnecting shades with "some unique design qualities" that would compliment the aesthetics of the Sports Complex.
Option #4 was a bid received from Custom Canopies. 10 triangular overlapping shade sails with 10 cantilevered posts - $50,000. Manager McDaniel didn't know what the warranty was, but assumed it was similarly several years.
Manager McDaniel also showed photos of structures sent from a resident which includes fencing around a cover. He also noted the need of continued evaluation and the concept of an "acceptable risk" where there might be an occasional foul ball. He suggested the next step might be a chain link to cover the sides. Director Molendyk said the Commission would also want to pick a color that would be complimentary and wouldn't show dirt.
Commissioner Miller said Chair Swanson had a good question regarding Risk Management's input. Manager McDaniel said that Risk Management has approved the concept of a shade structure to reduce risk, and that all the structures presented provide about the same level of acceptable risk. Commissioner Miller asked if signs should be posted, and Manager McDaniel said Risk Management has said a sign would be acknowledging there was a risk and the City would be more likely to be sued; therefore they aren't recommending a sign. Manager McDaniel said the City would continue to evaluate the situation even after a shade structure is in place, noting that there have been no injuries so far.
Commissioner Miller asked if the side screening could be put up later, and was told "yes". Chair Swanson asked if the covers would extend well over the playground equipment, possibly to the outer edge of the playground, and Manager McDaniel said "yes", either to the perimeter of the playground, or to the outer perimeter of the sidewalk surrounding the playground.
Chair Swanson noted that Yorba Linda had a play area that was surrounded by three ball fields, and asked how they get away with that, noting that the trees there might help, but that one has to pay attention to foul balls. Director Molendyk said just as in code enforcement, the City reacts to phone calls, saying that Risk Management evaluated the situation, and is the party that said the cover would be necessary. In Yorba Linda's situation, if someone got hurt, the City might re-evaluate and put up a canopy; Fullerton is trying to avoid that.
Commissioner Russell reiterated Chair Swanson's contention about many ball fields having foul balls without canopies, and asked about the skate park that doesn't have signs and can be unsafe. Manager McDaniel described the difference between a playground where there shouldn't be inherent risks if the playground is built to standards versus the skate park where there are inherent risks.
Commissioner Russell said he just wanted to make sure the Commission isn't considering a solution that isn't viable, and caging children in doesn't seem like a good idea. He asked what other cities do; Manager McDaniel showed a photo of one city with a covered and fenced in playground. Director Molendyk noted the increasing lawsuits due to the feeling that cities have "deep pockets", so Risk Management is responding accordingly. He said yet another solution not in the report, if there are serious concerns, would be to eliminate the playground altogether.
Commissioner Dalton asked about the number and types of complaints, Director Molendyk said they probably haven't had a dozen complaints; Manager McDaniel said Dave Mann, Sports Complex Supervisor, might be a good person to ask, adding that people have approached maintenance staff and league reps at the Sports Complex including Mike Downey of Golden Hill Little League and Chair Swanson.
Commissioner Dalton asked if Risk Management has recommended one option over the others for reducing risk to the City. Manager McDaniel said Risk Management has looked at the shade structure issue in general and approved it, and believed that the structure would not stop all foul balls but would, in any case, provide greater play value. Commissioner Dalton said she would prefer to extend the backstop area first, as that would be directly addressing the source of the problem, and would also prevent foul balls from hitting someone walking on the sidewalk, not just those in the play area. She didn't agree that a cover over the play structure was favorable because they need sunshine and can tolerate heat. Manager McDaniel said his first impulse was also the extension, but in evaluation and discussion, he realized the fencing would have been a waste of $15,000.
Commissioner Russell asked about the netting over the backstop, and Manager McDaniel said that netting would only prevent foul balls from going into the parked cars and concession stand, but wouldn't prevent foul balls going into the play area to the degree a canopy over the play area would. Director Molendyk added that the curved dome of some ball field backstops takes a pop-up ball out of play which the players don't like, and Manager McDaniel said none of those options solved the problem completely.
Chair Swanson asked if the play area could be opened up during soccer season, and Manager McDaniel said Risk Management had wanted to shut it down unless there was someone to let people in and out because non-league players can play on the field.
Commissioner Russell asked if Risk Management could come and speak with the Commission so it can get a better take on the risks involved. Director Molendyk said "yes". Commissioner Russell said he's not hearing complaints from the public, and wants to get this resolved as soon as possible; however, all the commissioners seem to have questions about why they have to do this, what options are available, and if a reduction of, perhaps 50% of foul balls, is acceptable. He added that he would rather spend $10,000 than $120,000 on a solution that only lasts 10 years.
Commissioner Dalton asked where the money is coming from, and Manager McDaniel said leftover field renovation funding would provide $10,000, and additional funding from the CIP athletic improvement projects from park dwelling funds. However, he agreed with Commissioner Dalton that the money spent on a canopy would be taken from other possible needs.
Commissioner Russell asked whether a decision could be made next month, and Manager McDaniel said an expert evaluator would be needed to really evaluate risk, whom he could hire to come to the Commission next month.
Director Molendyk said some cities take away the diving board from pools due to liability, and that, rather than just reacting to problems, there needs to be a standard from Risk Management to know if a cover would be needed at other parks as well. Manager McDaniel added that the play area at the Sports Complex was identified as a potential hazard; therefore, the City and the Commission needed to address this issue and couldn't ignore it. Director Molendyk said that, otherwise, they could really be open to liability if they simply ignored the issue and someone was hurt.
Commissioner Dalton said she would like Risk Management to say what is an acceptable risk. Manager McDaniel said Risk Management wouldn't do that because they aren't playground experts; they should probably get an expert evaluator which Risk Management has identified.
Commissioner Keller said the risk is all over, not just the play area; thus, building a canopy wouldn't keep the children safe since they are running all over the place. Manager McDaniel agreed there was risk all over, however, the difference is the placing of a playground in a hazardous area which should be safe which attorneys would be referring to.
Commissioner Russell asked about the Sports Complex design, and if they held the designers liable. Director Molendyk said Randy was aggressive about pursuing this question, but the designers got out by saying they went through a public process and that the community and City approved the plan.
Commissioner Han said everyone was complicating the issue, suggested using the last canopy with fencing to eliminate all the foul balls, and said although it looks like a cage, perhaps from the inside and with the right colors, it wouldn't appear so. Commissioner Dalton said it was probably very expensive. Commissioner Russell said they can't make a decision today without all of the facts, costs and Risk Management input. Director Molendyk agreed, saying that if Risk Management's expert could come in and the Commission can solve the problem for $10,000, if five other playgrounds have to be covered, it would be $50,000 instead of a $100,000 canopy costing $500,000 for five playgrounds. He said the question to Risk Management of what is an acceptable risk is a good question. Manager McDaniel agreed. Commissioner Dalton suggested that since Risk Management identified this as a risk, Risk Management should have to cover the costs of any evaluation of risk since this was only an issue due to fear of a lawsuit. Manager McDaniel said it was also due to the high frequency of foul balls which would pose a risk to children.
Commissioner Miller said the issue had been discussed enough, and that a representative from Risk Management needed to attend the next Commission meeting. Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to have Risk Management provide an evaluation of the real risk involved with foul balls in the Sports Complex playground, and what would be needed to minimize the risk. Commissioner Keller SECONDED THE MOTION.
Commissioner Russell suggested the issue be brought back in July due to the timeline. Director Molendyk said that, regardless, the construction would probably take ten months; Manager McDaniel said it could take that long, but depended on the option chosen. Commissioner Russell asked if Risk Management would consider opening the playground if baseball wasn't in season; Director Molendyk agreed to ask them.
Chair Swanson called for the vote.
AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Swanson
The MOTION CARRIED unanimously.
INFORMATION ITEMS (Items 6 - 9)
*6. LANDSCAPE DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR MAY 2005
The monthly report was received and filed. Acting Landscape Superintendent Dennis Quinlivan provided additional information to the monthly report, saying current projects include planting 100 additional trees on Orangethorpe from Woods to Richman, and replacing the oleanders that are there. A trail restoration from storm damage at Horse Alley has been completed from Euclid to Juanita Cooke. Landscape Lead Worker Cliff Jennings assisted the Girl Scouts in planting a cedar tree at Hillcrest Park.
Chair Swanson said his wife asked about the concrete median at Yorba Linda Boulevard near the Arboretum, and why it wasn't planted. Superintendent Quinlivan said the Maintenance Department only maintains the medians, and doesn't design them, but could come back with an answer. Chair Swanson said it was too bad because it was so barren and right next to the Arboretum.
Commissioner Han said she appreciated the reference to the bee hive locations in the report. Superintendent Quinlivan said Maintenance gets about two to three bee calls daily, goes out and evaluates whether it's City or private property, gives advice, and tries to wait a couple days because bees are beneficial and may just be passing through.
7. DIRECTOR'S UPDATE
Director Molendyk said there were two days of City Council review on the City's 2005-06 and 2006-07 budget, with the Recreation and Human Services divisions on the first day, and capital improvements on the second day.
He also said there was a Council question about how much Night in Fullerton cost, apparently in the hopes of bringing back the Founders' Day Parade in the future. He said they were also asked about the Summer Programs charging $10 per participant for the first time. While Orangethorpe and Chapman parks had 100 children, Gilbert Park was down considerably, and Recreation Division Manager Judy Peterson and her staff were trying to find money in their budget plus scholarships from St. Jude to support that park. At the end of the summer, they would make a report on the new fee structures, where they were successful and where they might want to make recommendations to the Council.
Director Molendyk also noted that the Department name change from Community Services to Parks and Recreation was well-accepted and would be used more and more.
He said that the Cal State University Fullerton's proposed HUD grant application at Richman Park was approved, noting that Dr. Castro called again, wanting to bring another grant application to Commission for its support. However, because it was a supplementary grant within the parameters of what Commission approved, it wasn't necessary to bring this to Commission.
8. REPORT ON CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEMS
Director Molendyk reported that Council approved the policy on memorial benches and trees as well as the Centennial Monument, and Adopt-A-Park stipends were presented.
9. COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Commissioner Dalton asked about Director Molendyk's position of Director of Parks and Recreation, saying he was starting to look permanent. He responded that they are still looking at that.
Commissioner Keller asked about Night in Fullerton costs, and was told $15,000, but with underwriting, it actually costs about $6,000.
Commissioner Russell asked why the Department is immediately diving into the budget because of Gilbert Park's loss in revenue rather than waiting to see what happens over the summer. Director Molendyk said the amount of projected revenue was $7,000; however, a council member asked them to assist Gilbert Park area residents, so the Department was using scholarships through the Secret Pal Programs. Manager Peterson said they would be reviewing the program over the summer, but noted that last summer Gilbert Park had 80 children, the first week of this summer, there were only 3 children so far. She said the children in that area really need the program, asking if they should just sit back and let it die, when there was an option of getting scholarships. Commissioner Russell asked where the money was coming from, and she said St. Jude was providing $4,000, and the Department budget also subsidized the program. Director Molendyk said that with the St. Jude funds and fees already collected, they would meet their $7,000 revenue goal.
Chair Swanson expressed concern about a backlash if some people had to pay and others didn't. Manager Peterson said the Secret Pal scholarships have low-income requirements and is being done discreetly to identify those really in need.
Commissioner Russell asked if there were 77 kids who could meet the low-income requirements, and Manager Peterson said she was sure there were. Commissioner Russell reiterated his concern about responding immediately rather than allowing the real consequences to occur, and to be able to report those consequences to those requiring budget cuts; however, he said, there was no real result because money was found to cover the problem, asking if they were going to do the same thing next year. Manager Peterson said they already saw the result, i.e., full registration last year versus 3 registered this year. She said rather than not having a program and "taking it out on the children", they had a solution of scholarships for the children. Director Molendyk said if they had known at the Commission Budget Workshop what they now know, they would have arranged the fees differently, perhaps with a date to cancel the fees if they weren't working. He said they would also report back in September.
Commissioner Keller asked if there would be a way to make the program more cost-effective to avoid charging $10/week at any program. Manager Peterson said they have already raised their staffing ratios from 1:10 to 1:15 this year, and that she didn't want to put the staff or kids in an even higher ratio situation where it wasn't safe. Director Molendyk suggested that staff will include the Summer Playground programs and their costs in a more comprehensive report at the end of the summer, and Commissioner Keller agreed, saying she hoped they could work to ensure no one had to pay for that program at any of the parks.
Commissioner Russell asked who went to the Market, saying he saw Commissioner Keller. He said there was a Commissioner Swanson look-alike in the band, the Answer; Commissioner Keller concurred.
Chair Swanson said he would not be able to attend the meeting scheduled for September 12th, and that Director Molendyk would also be on vacation then until late September. Since the Richman Park Improvements were going to be discussed at that meeting, he asked if the meeting could be moved to Wednesday, September 7th, Monday, September 5th being a holiday, or another option would be when Director Molendyk returns from vacation September 26th. Commissioner Dalton said she would be unable to attend September 7th.
Director Molendyk suggested keeping the meeting on the 12th, and keeping the agenda light, and if further discussion was needed on Richman Park, they could have a special meeting for it. Commissioner Russell asked who would be covering the meeting, and suggested the Commissioners could vote next meeting on who would cover the meeting. Commissioner Dalton asked if Richman Park could wait until October, and Manager McDaniel said the money has a deadline for spending. She then asked if the item could be brought in July, however, Manager McDaniel said the item has to go to the Valencia Task Force and the community in July; after their review and comments, it would go to Commission, perhaps in a special meeting, even in July or August.
Commissioner Keller noted the Fullerton Collaborative meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m. at Hunt Branch Library, and invited everyone.
The meeting adjourned at 9:02 p.m.