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Parks and Recreation Commission Minutes

CITY OF FULLERTON

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

MEETING MINUTES

 

City Council Chamber

Monday, May 14, 2007

6:30 p.m.

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

  

Chair Russell called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

 

FLAG SALUTE


Commissioner Stanford led the flag salute.


ROLL CALL

 

Present:          Shawna Adam, Sueling Chen, Kathleen Dasney, Craig Russell, Kathleen Shanfield, Nancy Spencer, Scott Stanford

 

Absent:           None

           

Staff:                           Parks and Recreation Director Ron Molendyk; Parks and Recreation Managers Dave Alkema, Grace Carroll Lowe, Alice Loya, and Dannielle Mauk; Administrative Analyst Chris Gerry; Recreation Supervisor Eloisa Espinoza; Recreation Supervisor Aaron Orozco; Cultural and Events Specialist Ashley Glass; Assistant to the City Manager and New Parks and Recreation Director Joe Felz; Building and Facilities Superintendent Lyman Otley, Landscape Supervisor Phil Kisor; Director of Engineering Don Hoppe; Senior Civil Engineer Ron Bowers

 

PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

None.

 

CONSENT ITEMS (1 – 3)

 

Commissioner Spencer  MADE A MOTION and Commissioner Dasney SECONDED THE MOTION to approve the Consent Calendar items as written. 

 

AYES:              Adam, Chen, Dasney, Russell, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:             None

ABSENT:         None

 

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

1.         MINUTES OF THE MARCH 12, 2007 REGULAR MEETING

 

Recommendation to approve the Minutes of the March 12, 2007 regular meeting.

 
2.         LANDSCAPE DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR APRIL 2007

 

Recommendation to receive and file the April 2007 Landscape Division Monthly Report.

 

Commissioner Spencer asked about median maintenance and was told it had started.

           

3.         BUILDING AND FACILITIES DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR APRIL 2007

 

Recommendation to receive and file the April 2007 Building and Facilities Division Monthly Report.

 

Parks and Recreation Director Molendyk noted that the commissioners had expressed appreciation for the more detailed Building and Facilities reports provided recently.

 

Commissioner Dasney asked about inspections by Facilities Specialist Dennis Hittle and what the findings were, and Building and Facilities Superintendent Lyman Otley said the results were no negative reports.  She then asked if he was going to all the parks twice a month, and he replied that he had this month and will try to continue this to keep the maintenance staff “honest.”

 

Commissioner Adam asked about Item 1 in the Building and Facilities Report regarding the Tennis Center and the lamp posts, and what the status of other lamp posts were.  She was told that as soon as the insurance payment is approved, staff will fix it, and have other lights inspected at other fields as well.

 

REGULAR BUSINESS (Items 4 - 10)

 

4.         ELECTION OF OFFICERS           

 

Chair Russell noted the delay in the election of Parks and Recreation Commission officers due to changes in the commission appointment process.

 

Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION and Commissioner Dasney SECONDED THE MOTION to elect current Chair Craig Russell to complete the year.  The vote was called for.

 

AYES:                          Adam, Chen, Dasney, Russell, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:             None

ABSENT:         None

 

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

 

Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION and Commissioner Chen SECONDED THE MOTION to elect Commissioner Dasney as Vice Chair.  The vote was called for.

 

AYES:                          Adam, Chen, Dasney, Russell, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:             None

ABSENT:         None

 

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

 
*5.       2007/2008 – 2008/2009 PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT OPERATING BUDGET AND FIVE-YEAR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM BUDGET

 

Director Molendyk introduced the proposed 2007/2008 – 2008/2009 Parks and Recreation Department Operating Budget and Five-Year Capital Improvement Program Budget, noting that the Commission had had an opportunity to discuss these items during a recent Commission workshop. He said Administrative Manager Alice Loya would make the presentation, and that staff would be happy to answer any questions.  He also acknowledged Director of Engineering Don Hoppe and Senior Civil Engineer Ron Bowers who were in the audience, and said they could answer questions, too.

 

Manager Loya provided a Power Point overview of the Parks and Recreation Department, saying that it was in the business of making Fullerton a more desirable place to live.  She noted the Department’s 54 parks totaling 683 acres, 28 miles of trails and 14 facilities, and describing the differences between neighborhood parks, community facilities and specialized facilities such as Amerige Park, Independence Park and Brea Dam.   

 

Using a pie chart, Manager Loya also outlined the City’s funding sources of property tax (22%), sales tax (10%), and other funding sources for a total City budget of $217 million in 2007-08.   Of that budget, Parks and Recreation receives approximately 3% of that budget. 

 

Manager Loya then reviewed the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget, saying that it included projects in progress as well as those that will be or are funded.  Commissioner Chen asked for clarification on the CIP budget versus the operating budget and was told the CIP was under the Engineering Department and was separate from the Parks and Recreation operating budget.  Alice also clarified that the 3% budget noted earlier is the Department’s operating budget, and Director Molendyk further clarified, saying Parks and Recreation gets a percentage of the City’s CIP funding.  Manager Loya said Parks Manager Alkema would provide more details and figures during his CIP presentation.

 

Manager Loya provided information on current funding sources including 55% from the City’s General Fund, 17% from program revenues, other revenue from the Brea Dam, grants, the Redevelopment Agency, and the fund balance. She compared the current year with the upcoming year, pointing out that the General Fund contribution was decreased to 50% and program revenues are going up due to the addition of Meridian and Summit House revenues.  She said the Department would benefit from this arrangement as staff expected these revenues to go up due to Parks and Recreation support.  When Commissioner Chen asked, she was told that historically, the revenue percentages from General Funds and program revenues were about the same – 55% and 17% - but this year that figure would change significantly.

 

Manager Loya showed the total Parks and Recreation budget of $6.2 or $6.3 million, of which $3.6 million is from different City funding sources, and $2.6 million is revenue from grants and program revenue.  She also pointed out slight increases in the Department budget (less than $500,000 overall) due to new revenue streams, rising salaries and maintenance costs.  When asked, she said they adjust the fees annually which was the next item Commission would discuss. 

 

Manager Loya then showed how the Parks and Recreation budget was broken down, noting the substantial increase in revenue for next year due in large part to the Summit House and Meridian Sports Club.  She said the fund balance would be used to enhance some programs and supplement salary increases, and then pointed to revenue sources such as grants, redevelopment, Trash/Water and Brea Dam with changes including a loss of $100,000 from CDBG, a slight increase in Redevelopment Agency funds based on increased salaries, and an increase in Trash/Water funds.  When Commissioner Stanford asked about the sudden spike in Trash/Water funds from $29,000 to $42,000, Manager Loya said the Department hadn’t been getting an increase based on a CPI inflator, so this was rectified by dividing the proceeds into two years. 

 

Manager Loya also discussed the Brea Dam, saying that since it’s a restricted funding source, all revenues have to be turned back into the dam.  The major funding source is the municipal golf course which provides about $420,000 revenue yearly through a percentage of their gross; Golfers Paradise also provides a percentage of its gross, and all revenue is reinvested in the Brea Dam.

 

She also noted changes in Department staffing including adding one Park and Trail Specialist, adding one regular Recreation Coordinator for a net total increase of .4 regular staff.  Commissioner Spencer asked about the 1.0 Parks and Recreation Coordinator position, and Recreation Supervisor Orozco said this position was developed because it was more stable than trying to keep a few part-time staff, and was at after school programs.

 

Director Molendyk said they’ve kept the number of employees essentially the same, i.e., 30.9 employees versus the prior year of 30.5, but have invigorated and changed programs.

 

Commissioner Spencer asked if non-regulars were being converted to regular full-time, and Alice said there were three non-regulars being converted to full-time, but the Department was also deleting some unfilled positions.  Director Molendyk pointed out that in transferring Maple Center programs to the Senior Center, they were able to eliminate one staff position as well as a kitchen aide, and a Tool Bank staff was eliminated. 

 

Vice Chair Dasney asked about the jump in administrative staff from 7.5 to 9.1; and Manager Loya said some of the new positions were being placed into the Administrative Division, e.g., Park and Trail Specialists and Park Project Specialist although those staff are actually field and line staff, i.e., they’re not just administrative.  Director Molendyk noted how the Department is trying to combine part-time positions into a more stable full-time position, e.g., Park Project Specialist, with 90% charged to CIP and only 10% charged to the operating budget.  He noted how that position was important due to 31 ongoing projects.

 

Program changes included the new Park and Trail program with 2.5 staff, some of whom were existing staff, to encourage proper use of the parks, and a .6 Parks and Recreation Assistant and a .5 Outreach Worker position was filled by an existing Parks and Recreation Assistant at the Senior Center when senior programs were moved from the Maple Center.  $100,000 to cover the loss of CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding for Garnet and Richman centers was taken from Family and Senior Services funding. 

 

Manager Loya described the new Park and Trail Program, its objectives being to encourage proper use of park and trail facilities as well as 128 City and school fields, graffiti removal, the safety and cleanliness of parks, restrooms and playground equipment, and assisting with Outdoor Recreation activities, park surveys, and maintenance of  Laguna Lake.  Vice Chair Dasney said there were questions about a non-regular Park Ranger who is a relative of staff, and confirmed that City policy allows for that as long as the relative is not under the staff’s direct supervision, that there is no requirement for advertisement of non-regular positions, and that if the position becomes full-time regular, there will be a process that all applicants would have to go through. 

 

Other budget changes included $100,000 for Laguna Lake maintenance and $100,000 for a community center and services at Gilbert Park.  When Chair Russell asked, he was told the latter issue had not yet come to Commission for review, and that it would be part of the CIP budget Commission was voting on.  Director Molendyk said there had been town hall meetings with residents of the West Side of Fullerton and the West Fullerton Improvement Committee (WFIC).  Chair Russell reiterated the problem of putting a structure on a park without a public hearing.  Manager Loya said every commission meeting was a public meeting although a public hearing notification of residents within 300 feet of the site was not scheduled for this issue. Chair Russell said although there were community meetings, he felt a Commission public hearing should have been noticed, just as the Richman Clinic project should have been noticed. 

 

Manager Loya described the space being used at Gilbert Park, saying it should not interfere with current use, and Chair Russell said that it should, nonetheless, be publicly noticed.  Director Molendyk said Parks and Recreation staff often hears about projects secondhand, too, as they get direction from Council on some projects such as this one. 

 

Commissioner Shanfield asked about the $100,000 for Gilbert Park, and was told it was the Parks and Recreation programming money, and that $130,000 for installation and a two-year lease of a 24’ x 60’ building would come out of CIP.  It was also clarified that Code Enforcement would have an office there, but they would not be helping to fund the building installation because they didn’t have CIP funds.  Vice Chair Dasney asked about Code Enforcement at Richman Center, and Manager Loya acknowledged that Code Enforcement does help pay the bills there as renters, and that the same would be asked of Code Enforcement at Gilbert.  When asked, staff said that if the program ended, there would be no return of money, but if the program was successful, it might justify putting in a permanent building.

 

Commissioner Chen asked how the budget for the Gilbert Park trailer was included in the Department budget and who approved it, and Director Molendyk explained that the WFIC met with residents, and through the Council, staff was asked to install the facility and to partner with non-profits.  Manager Loya also provided clarification to the Commissioners about the involvement of WFIC, Cal State University Fullerton, and local residents in the project, and that WFIC did not have to write a grant although any organization could write a grant and make a request, hopefully earlier in the process.

 

Chair Russell reiterated his concern about the Commission being again excluded from the process, saying he wouldn’t approve the project.  Commissioner Chen confirmed with staff that the project was never approved in a formal meeting.  She and Vice Chair Dasney also asked for clarification on where the direction came from, and was told there was input from both the community and Council.  Commissioner Shanfield noted that it was up to Commission to approve or disapprove the project by voting for or against the proposed budget.

 

Commissioner Spencer said she’s heard a lot from West Fullerton residents who feel they don’t receive enough services, and Director Molendyk agreed, saying other departments are also putting more resources into the West Side.  He encouraged the commissioners to become more involved in the neighborhood forums.  Chair Russell said Council members should encourage the community to come to the Commission and speak.  

 

Commissioner Shanfield asked if the community just needs a place to meet, and if they could find some other location other than the park.  Manager Loya said staff explored other options but no others were viable.  When Commissioner Spencer asked, she was told that recreational services at Gilbert Park would be similar to those at Richman Center, with non-profit agencies providing human services. 

 

Commissioner Chen asked if Independence Park was in West Fullerton and was told it was in the middle of Fullerton.  She said that it was important to provide services, but that it becomes much more complicated when structures enter the picture.  Director Molendyk suggested that the Commission try to “get out in front” and get input from other organizations such as Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO) rather than being led by these groups; Vice Chair Dasney noted that OCCCO came into the picture because there were no services on the west side.  Chair Russell said he didn’t know how the Commission could lead if they aren’t made aware of projects such as the Gilbert Park structure.  Director Molendyk said Commission is an advisory group and that it has the option of providing input on projects, and if approved by Council, Commission would also be involved.

 

Director Molendyk presented the Department’s Capital Improvement Program, noting that Director of Engineering, Don Hoppe, would also be available for questions.   Director Molendyk said Hillcrest Park was a priority with $6.5 million being allocated from Redevelopment bond funds, particularly after the reservoir is completed.    Funds to meet increased construction costs were also included in the budget.  Downtown Public Art ($125,000) which will be on the agenda in July, would involve mostly murals due to limited funding.  Vice Chair Dasney asked what was previously spent and Assistant to the City Manager Joe Felz said $15,000, but that the current $125,000 was for five years, or only $25,000 per year. Director Hoppe said Redevelopment Director Robert Zur Schmiede asked for the $25,000 annually in Redevelopment funding but that there was no defined project yet for Downtown Art. 

 

Director Molendyk noted Rolling Hills Park improvements for $835,000 for a parking lot to improve traffic safety, a permanent restroom, and a picnic shelter.  Director Molendyk confirmed with Chair Russell that the vote tonight was just for approval of the budget and that further discussion and input would be needed for project approval.

 

Other project allocations included $250,000 at Gilman Park for the first of three phases to repair and replace decayed wood play equipment and two bridges; $132,000 for baseball/softball backstops for various parks; $130,000 for a Gilbert Park temporary structure; $250,000 for the launching of a Park Monument Sign Replacement Program;  $200,000 for trail improvements including markers, information kiosks, signage and rest areas; and $6,100,000 for Lions Field which was approved by Council although this figure would probably go up.  It was noted that geologic studies will be done and that more precise figures would need to be brought back to Council.

 

$607,500 was allocated for Lemon Park improvements including a picnic shelter, a less expensive restroom, fencing, playground equipment, signage and walkways; $945,000 in grant funding for Phase Two improvements at Laguna Lake; $330,000 in Tennis Center improvements including the parking lot, landscaping and signage.  Possible pole replacements at the Tennis Center based on an upcoming inspection might impact the budget.

 

Engineering Director Hoppe spoke on the Civic Center Master Plan for the Boys and Girls Club, Senior Center and Library which would be taken to Council tomorrow.  Chair Russell asked why a major renovation of a major piece of park property did not go through the Parks and Recreation Commission for a recommendation.  Director Hoppe said that part of the reason was because that project had 100% Redevelopment Agency funding and was a land use project within the City’s General Plan which was historically in the Engineering budget.

 

Chair Russell asked if there was a budget for the whole project, and Director Hoppe said there were place holders for it, it was going to Council tomorrow and City staff would be requesting approval of a budget.  Vice Chair Dasney said Commission wasn’t included in any preliminary discussions with the user groups, although Director Hoppe had assured Commission at a previous meeting that their comments would be forwarded to Council in the form of minutes.  She said she sent an e-mail the City Council Office, referring to the Commission minutes and recommending that they read pages 2 – 8 since the Engineering Department’s recommendation did not reflect what the Commission had said.  

 

When asked what action would take place at tomorrow’s Council meeting, Director Hoppe said he hoped Council would direct funding towards the library expansion and remodel as Council saw this as the highest priority, then direct funding for the Senior Center, relocating the Parks and Recreation office, Boys and Girls Club improvements and the various alternatives available.  Chair Russell asked about differences between bond proceeds and RDA money, and was told they were the same thing and funded through the RDA.  He then asked about Hillcrest Park and Lions Field, and was told it was the same RDA money, thus confirming for him that there were large Parks and Recreation projects with RDA funding. 

 

Chair Russell said someone decided not to have Parks and Recreation in the Civic Center package.  Commissioner Chen suggested the Chair could go to tomorrow night’s Council meeting; but Chair Russell said he had another engagement.  There was further discussion about why the project was not under the auspices of Parks and Recreation rather than Engineering and why Commission was the last step in the process.  Director Hoppe said although the project could have, perhaps, been under a different department, there was no attempt to obfuscate the matter.

 

Commissioner Chen asked that, as new commissioners, what they could do to promote a different outcome, and Director Molendyk suggested communicating with Council, attending events where Councilmembers are, so that they might hear more about and also impact upcoming issues.  Commissioner Chen said they can communicate with their individual councilmembers but that they also needed to affect how a project comes or does not come before Commission.  Director Molendyk said very few projects came to Commission before this Parks and Recreation administration, and Commissioner Spencer agreed.

 

Commissioner Shanfield asked if there was sufficient RDA or bond funding for all the projects and Director Hoppe said there was a budget for the Civic Center plan developed by the consultant in the mid-$30 millions, and the total bond proceeds were $79 million; thus, if the Civic Center plan were approved, other projects might have to be eliminated.  Commissioner Stanford asked why the City would rebuild the Boys and Girl’s Club without providing the same benefit to YMCA.  Director Hoppe said that relocating the current Boys and Girls Club would improve access for all three facilities at Amerige Park and allow for additional parking there.  He noted that Council had not yet voted on the project, that they could make other recommendations, and that he would know a lot more about it after tomorrow’s vote.

 

There was a question about whether the Boys and Girl’s Club or YMCA built their facility or if the City did so, and Manager Loya said while it was the City’s land, she couldn’t find records indicating the City built the facilities, but that YMCA and Kiwanis built their facilities.  Chair Russell said he couldn’t understand why these records weren’t available, and Manager Loya said staff could do additional research and should be able to find out.  Chair Russell said it was important because if the building belonged to the Boys and Girls Club, the City would be more obligated to help them relocate and rebuild.  Commissioner Spencer said she thought the City built the pool but Manager Loya thought the City hadn’t, but said she would find out.  Director Hoppe was thanked for his involvement.

 

Vice Chair Dasney had a question on the order of the meeting as Commission had gone ahead to Capital Improvements when she had questions on the proposed budget and fee schedule documents the Commission had received.  There was a discussion on how Commission would vote on the CIP and Operating budgets, and it was agreed it would vote separately on the two items.  Manager Loya and Recreation Supervisor Eloisa Espinoza answered several questions and made some typographical, grammatical and descriptive changes on the Department’s proposed budget.

 

Staff explained that the $30,000 drop in revenue from the Maple and Senior center was due to the loss of two long-term tenants who found a permanent location, but that they were looking for new renters.  They also explained that the numbers for Camp Lemonade went up because the After School Program now has a program there.

 

Chair Russell asked for any further discussion on the Operating Budget or CIP.  Vice Chair Dasney asked about why there were no attendance numbers for Night in Fullerton or Muckenthaler Cultural Center.  Manager Mauk said staff does not collect data for Muckenthaler and that attendance for Night in Fullerton was about 5,000.

 

Manager Carroll-Lowe confirmed for Commissioner Chen that the 60,000 reported attendance at Tennis Center was duplicated counts.

 

Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION and Commissioner Chen SECONDED THE MOTION to recommend that the Department Operating Budget be approved by Council.

 

The vote was called for.

 

AYES:                          Adam, Chen, Dasney, Russell, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:             None

ABSENT:         None

 

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

 

Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION and Vice Chair Dasney SECONDED THE MOTION to recommend the CIP budget for approval to Council.

 

Discussion followed with Commissioner Chen asking about the Gilbert Park improvements, and Director Molendyk saying that the CIP Gilbert Park budget was for rental and installation of the modular structure.  Vice Chair Dasney said she appreciated everything Chair Russell said but would still vote for approval.  Commissioner Shanfield asked if Commission could approve the funding but with the proviso that the funding be used for locating the facility in a different location.

 

Chair Russell said the alternative would be to vote on the motion, turn it down, and then put forward another motion to approve the budget except for the Gilbert Park improvements.  Chair Russell said to approve a project, he needed more information and to hear from the community, so he would not support the motion as stated.

 

Vice-Chair Dasney said Chair Russell was right in principal; however, stubbornness wouldn’t help, but would delay the project.  Chair Russell said he believed the project would be approved, but he thought it was important to take a stand, and perhaps those requesting projects would, in the future, come before the Commission.

 

Commissioner Stanford said Richman and Gilbert parks were represented by certain groups, and asked if it was possible that other groups would ask for services in other areas.  Director Molendyk said it was possible but most of the services were being asked for in the high need areas, and that they didn’t have a specific master plan for that area.

 

The vote was called for.

 

AYES:                         Dasney, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:            Adam, Chen, Russell

ABSENT:       None

 

The MOTION PASSED on a 4-3 vote.

 

6.         2007 – 2008 POLICY STATEMENT AND FEE SCHEDULE

 

Manager Alice Loya presented the proposed 2007 - 2008 Parks and Recreation Policy Statement and Fee Schedule, noting that all programs that charge fees and have policies are included in this document.  She said each year, this document is reviewed and changes are proposed to reflect changing costs.  Significant changes included:  A slight increase in fees for Tiny Tots, Tennis Center courts, Senior Center and Museum rentals, document preparation, and bulletin ads.  New fees were added for rental of half of the Lemon Park Pavilion, a power washing fee at the Museum Plaza, and a $50 deposit and $25 electrical fee for vendor booths at First Night and Night in Fullerton.  A park reservation cancellation policy was added as was a policy of no smoking within 25 feet of a playground.  The PA system at Hillcrest Park would be limited on Sundays to 6:00 p.m., and competition and travel ball clubs were added to User Group #4.  The Park Dwelling Fee increased 4% from $9,500 to $9,880 per dwelling unit built, regardless of the size of the structure.

 

Commissioner Adam asked about smoking at ballfields but was told the new policy only applied to playgrounds.  Staff said the umpire should enforce the non-smoking rules and Chair Russell said he believed Little League rules do not allow smoking, including in the bleachers.  Director Molendyk noted that there was a Commission presentation on smoking prevention by the County Health Department last year, but that there could be a discussion on this in the future. 

 

Commissioner Russell asked if the sidewalk next to Plaza Park would be part of the 25’ limit, and Manager Loya said it would be part of the no-smoking zone.  He also asked if the Plaza spray fountain was considered a playground but was told it probably wasn’t.

 

The commissioners received clarification on some of the fees charged, and Vice Chair Dasney noted some grammatical corrections.  When she asked, Manager Loya said there were no fees proposed to charge for Gilman Park.  She also asked about the storage of equipment in City facilities being prohibited, yet sports equipment is stored in City facilities.  Manager Loya referred to Page 6, Section II. C. which indicates that athletic groups fall under a different policy called ”Policies and Procedures for Assigning Sports Facilities.”

 

On Page 14 of the Policies, Section I.  Purpose, Director Molendyk led a discussion on residency of Senior Center users, and Vice Chair Dasney thought all of the references to residency should be eliminated and age should be the important factor.  She also said that the proposed deletion of the Center being described as a “community focal point” should be reconsidered as she believed that that phrase might be required by some grantors; Senior Center Supervisor Eloisa Espinoza said it would be put back in.  When asked about lowering the age to 50, Supervisor Espinoza said the Department was trying to encourage the boomers to come to the senior center. A discussion ensued and it was agreed that “older adult” would be used instead.  Manager Loya clarified how the fees were listed on p. 21.

 

Vice Chair Dasney MADE A MOTION to approve the fee schedule as amended and Commissioner Shanfield SECONDED the motion.  As there was no further discussion, Chair Russell called for the vote.

 

AYES:                         Adam, Chen, Dasney, Russell, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:            None

ABSENT:       None

 

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

 

*7.       RICHMAN COMMUNITY CENTER SITE PLAN

 

Chair Russell changed the order of the agenda items, taking the Richman Community Center Site Plan before Items 5 and 6 to accommodate audience members and speakers present for this item.  Parks Manager Dave Alkema made a Power Point presentation, saying staff had been working with Dr. Don Castro of California State University Fullerton (CSUF) for over a year on this project, and that it needed to move forward.

 

Manager Alkema noted that originally, the proposed addition to the Richman Community Center was to be added to the back side of the Center on school district property.  However, staff learned that state law would not allow this because the current modular building didn’t received approval from State Architect and was not up to the higher school building standards.  Thus, staff had to look at other options including putting the addition on the front of the current building (Option #1); however, due to the short deadline and current improvements being made at the park, placing the addition at the front wasn’t a good option either. 

 

Manager Alkema said another option, Option #2, would be a separate stand-alone building.  While there would be some disruption, there would be less with this than with Option #1.  He recommended that Commission recommend Option #2 to Council.

 

He noted that previously, the addition was estimated at $160,000; but would now probably cost $217,000 due to increased costs and the different design.  Director Molendyk noted that Dr. Castro of CSUF, the lead agency representative for the project, was in the audience to answer any questions.

 

Commissioner Spencer asked when Dr. Castro had made the first presentation to Commission and Chair Russell replied that it was May 2005.  Commissioner Spencer asked when the building would be completed, and Manager Alkema said the project began October 2005 and would end Sept. 2008.  She then asked how the project was being funded, and Manager Alkema said it would be grant funds. 

 

Dr. Castro then provided an overview of the grant funds, saying the total amount of grant funding was $600,000, and that the original proposal was for construction of a modular building, landscaping and human services.  However, he said increases in construction costs were reducing the level of services to be provided.  He also said he spoke with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ten days ago, and was told that since the primary purpose of the grant was to build the building, the City could use funds originally marked for services for construction; thus, there should not be any cost overruns or additional costs to the City.  He said the extra cost was also due to the extra load bearing wall needed for the stand-alone structure and that the $217,000 to $225,000 cost estimate was probably right.

 

Commissioner Chen asked about the square footage of the proposed structure and was told it would be a 24’ x 60’ expansion or a double-wide structure.  She asked about staffing, and Director Molendyk said if the project was successful, HUD would probably re-fund the project.  Commissioner Chen complimented Dr. Castro and the community for their work, saying that the project was much needed.  Dr. Castro noted that obtaining the grant also enabled them to receive diabetes grant funding.

 

Dr. Castro gave a quick overview of the project since many commissioners were new, saying it was a collaboration of the City, CSUF and community organizations to provide a facility with services utilizing CSUF’s resources, and focusing on public health issues.  He said CSUF has already started a training program utilizing Mexican public health students for this project.

 

Commissioner Shanfield asked what kinds of programs would be provided, and Dr. Castro said there would be a computer center with training, English-as-a-Second Language classes, citizenship classes with consumer information and utilizing business students, kinesiology, and soccer. 

 

When asked, Pat Trotter, retired Parks and Recreation staff and current Fullerton Collaborative President, replied that the intent of the grant was for Fullerton residents although they wouldn’t be able to ask for identification, and also expressed appreciation for the grant.  Commissioner Stanford asked if the project gains in popularity, how access to parking and services would be controlled.  Ms. Trotter said she didn’t believe other City programs controlled residency, so this wouldn’t either.  Director Molendyk said they would probably prioritize Fullerton residents if the program filled up. 

 

Commissioner Adam asked Ms. Trotter about writing for the grant, and reapplying, and whether demographics and usage would need to be reported, and she said yes, but that Dr. Castro could better answer this question. 

 

Dr. Castro said in designing the program and the grant, research was done with Richman Park residents, and that the program was designed for those residents.  Commissioner Chen asked if the program became too popular with non-City people, if something would have to be done.  Dr. Castro said that that was the City’s job, but the project was designed for Richman residents.

 

Chair Russell provided a short history of the project, noting that Richman Park, in a five year span, had the Valencia (Richman) Community Center and the Clinic added, and now another building to be added.  He explained that he didn’t vote for the clinic project because he felt there were too many structures on the park, not because he didn’t like the idea.  He said during those meetings, a separate structure had been discussed but the Commission was told it would be on the back of the existing structure on school district property.  He said it was presented to them that the school district had approved it, adding that Commissioner Dalton specifically approved it because it was to be put on the back of the structure.  Now that this was not the case, Chair Russell wondered what had happened.

 

Commissioner Chen asked if someone could explain how the project was changed, and Director Molendyk said there was no master plan, but staff worked with the School District and Valencia Task Force.  It was only later that staff learned they could not put an addition onto an existing building that was not up to state standards.  He reiterated that it was important to utilize the funding somehow, especially for future funding consideration, and that Option #2 was the most cost-effective option. 

 

Chair Russell asked who determined the size, and if a smaller size could be considered, and Dr. Castro said the modular sizes were in increments of 12’ x 60’.  Chair Russell asked if Kiwanis Park would be a possibility, but Director Molendyk said the current site was something already considered by Council and Commission, and discussed with Dr. Castro, and now, if another site were considered, it might make meeting the grant deadline difficult.  Thus, he said, the simplest solution was what was being presented tonight although other options weren’t impossible.

 

Commissioner Dasney favored the recommendation as presented, saying it didn’t make sense to move the project.  Ms. Trotter said the existing building was too small and residents had many unmet recreational needs and transportation issues. She said separating the facility would not meet the needs of the area residents.

 

Chair Russell asked if the needs were so great, why staff and Council want to put everything on such a small park.  He reiterated the Richman Clinic report of only 48% Fullerton residents using the clinic.  He said the Richman Park area was the only area where a building would be allowed.   Ms. Trotter noted that newly-created Union Pacific Park provides some recreational space that wasn’t there before, and while she couldn’t answer his question about the clinic clients, she believed the building would provide an important service.

 

Dr. Castro said he disagreed that services don’t belong in a public space and that only green space should be allowed, saying this was the fullest use of public space.

 

Chair Russell opened the meeting up for public comment.

 

Jose Dominguez, 611 W. Houston - Member of the Valencia Task Force (VTF), with translation from Community Organizer Joseph McKellar of OCCCO, Mr. Dominguez said he’s lived near Richman Park for 40 years and that the VTF is dedicated to the improvement of residents’ lives.  He thanked Commission, and said that, unfortunately, the children near Richman had many unmet needs, and that parents worked long hours to pay the rent.  He spoke of the CSUF grant which would help the families get assistance and reduce gang involvement.  He said they support the expansion very much and are working with many entities to ensure their children come first.

 

After no further public comment, Chair Russell brought the meeting back to Commission for further discussion. 

 

Commissioner Adam asked what would happen if Commission voted the project down, and Director Molendyk said some Councilmembers have met with the neighborhood and appear to favor the project.  The Council could either accept the Commission’s recommendation or turn it down and approve the project.  He said if the project was not approved, services would be lost, the grant money would be lost, and any expended funds might have to be returned.  It could affect the City and CSUF’s chances to obtain other grants in the future.

 

Commissioner Chen asked if other recommendations could be made besides just voting for or against the recommendation.  Director Molendyk said other recommendations could be made as long as there were sufficient votes.  Chair Russell said regardless of the outcome, it was important to note that it didn’t mean the Commission didn’t support the VTF, noting that he has worked with the VTF and supported the lights at Richman Park.  However, he said he didn’t believe a park should be used to provide medical care, and that his concern was a row of structures in the park.

 

Chair Russell said most of the grants seem to involve a structure, and asked if a smaller structure could be used.  After Director Molendyk described the current structure as having an office, two other offices for code enforcement, a large room for classes, and a smaller room with some tables, chairs and computers, Community Center Supervisor Eloisa Espinoza said the center rooms were being used all day long, with some classes running concurrently.  Director Molendyk noted and acknowledged the commissioners’ philosophical differences, knew it would be potentially embarrassing that new park improvements would have to be torn out to accommodate the changes, but said commitments were made, staff has looked at alternatives, and that this was staff’s best solution to the problem.

 

Dr. Castro said the proposed computer training program cannot be operated currently because of the power needed.  He said information for classes, financial aid and admissions for colleges could be provided through the computer class, pointing out that Richman School was identified as one of 109 “failed schools” in Orange County. 

 

Commissioner Chen asked if it would be possible to provide services instead of the building.  Dr. Castro said it wasn’t possible, that the grant was written to build a structure, and that, otherwise, the grant would be lost. 

 

There was further discussion on whether other sites besides Richman Park were considered or could still be considered.  Dr. Castro said the grant was for an hispanic-serving community grant at Richman Park, and that a Methodist church, Orangethorpe Park and other locations outside the City were considered, but the church had religious/cultural issues that precluded using that location, and he felt it was important to provide services to the City of Fullerton.  Moreover, when analyzing need in Fullerton, the Richman Park area had the highest need and had community and faith-based partners like St. Jude and Valencia Task Force, which funders liked to see.

 

Chair Russell asked, if the proposed project was a stand alone building now, why they couldn’t build it at Kiwanis Youth Park, but Dr. Castro and Director Molendyk said there wasn’t enough time to change the site location and that if a change were proposed, it would have to go back to HUD, and the deadline might be missed.  Director Molendyk agreed the solution wasn’t ideal, but it was the best available.

 

Commissioner Adam asked about the community members using the facility, and asked if the school’s fencing would be a barrier between the school and the facilities.  Director Molendyk said the school district can’t use the buildings anyway because they don’t meet school building code. 

 

Vice Chair Dasney MADE A MOTION to recommend to City Council approval of the proposed Richman Community Center expansion as a stand-alone building on the north side of the existing center and Commissioner Stanford SECONDED THE MOTION.  Chair Russell called for discussion. 

 

Commissioner Chen said she wanted to support the project, appreciated the community reaching out to the underprivileged, and thanked Dr. Castro for his support, as well as the staff’s work.  Her concern was about the sustainability of the programs and what would happen after 2008.  With grants, Director Molendyk said there was always a risk of not getting re-funded, but it was hoped that a successful program with a building could get additional funding.  Commissioner Dasney reiterated the concern of not being considered in the future if the grant money was refused, and that the Commission really didn’t have a choice but to approve the proposed plan.

 

Commissioner Spencer agreed they didn’t have a choice at this point although she said she voted for the St. Jude project with the understanding that the majority would be Fullerton residents.  However, she said she would approve the proposed project also.

 

Chair Russell said he wouldn’t support the motion, saying this was the third time Commission had voted on Richman Park, and that although there was a master plan with community meetings, groups would just approach the City asking for buildings.  He noted the history of votes on Richman facilities, saying Commissioner Dalton’s vote was reluctant and based only on the expansion at the back of the building; thus, the current plan would not have been approved the previous time.  He said the City has lost control of the park, and that the Commission and staff should be maintaining and developing parks. He said he didn’t have issues with the ideas or services provided, but didn’t support having buildings on such a small park not intended for these facilities.  Chair Russell then called for the vote.

 

AYES:                         Adam, Chen, Dasney, Shanfield, Spencer, Stanford

NOES:            Russell

ABSENT:       None

 

The MOTION PASSED on a 6 -1 vote.

 

8.   DIRECTOR’S UPDATE

 

Director Molendyk recognized the new Parks and Recreation Director, Joe Felz, who was in the audience, saying he officially takes over July 1, 2007.  He added that Parks and Recreation staff are providing orientation to new Director Felz, and that he would be following up with Chair Russell’s suggestion that the three of them get together to meet.

 

Director Molendyk reported that the Department is working with Kiwanis and the building Department to get the KaBOOM grant play equipment approved for installation at Kiwanis Park.  Commissioner Spencer asked about the companies who were coming in to assist Kiwanis.  Manager Loya said there were two different issues at Kiwanis Park: An improvement plan brought to Commission and Council which was separate from a grant for an “extreme makeover” of the Boys and Girls Club from the Rotary Club which allowed for interior improvements and a half-basketball court not part of the Commission/Council-approved improvement plan.  Kiwanis also submitted and received a grant from KaBOOM for play equipment.  She said the other improvements are in plan check with a few more corrections and that Kiwanis was still fundraising.

 

Director Molendyk also noted the flyer for the Dog Park opening ceremony on June 9th and the successful Fishing Derby with 350 registrants and the cooperation and support of Izaak Walton, Police, Fire, Fish and Game and many businesses.  He also reminded Commission of the Civic Center Plan on Council’s agenda tomorrow night.

 
9.         REPORT ON CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEMS

 

Director Molendyk noted the City Council agenda items listed on the Commission agenda, saying he would be happy to answer any questions, but there were none.

 

10.       COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

 

Commissioner Dasney asked about the Commission summer schedule and Chair Russell requested that it be agendized for the June meeting.

 

Commissioner Shanfield commended the park rangers and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Yvonne Pedersen for the Get Outdoors programming, saying she attends the trail program, really enjoys it and appreciates all the quality staff involved.  Commissioner Stanford thanked the staff for being at the meeting and enduring commissioner dialogue as they get familiar with the issues.

 

Commissioner Spencer confirmed that Director Molendyk would be attending one more meeting as Director.

 

Commissioner Adam said it was very enjoyable at Night in Fullerton, that her daughter took her everywhere on the buses, and they didn’t get home until midnight.  She thanked staff for the event.

 

Commissioner Chen asked if there was a party planned for Director Molendyk, and he replied “yes” and, jokingly, that that meeting would be over by 8:00.

 

Chair Russell commented for the benefit of the new commissioners that tonight was the Commission’s longest meeting this year and that this wasn’t typical.  He said he couldn’t go to the 7:30 Council meeting tomorrow night, but that he would try to make a public comments at the 4:00 meeting.  He also invited any of the commissioners to attend the meeting, and would try to send an e-mail to express their concerns.   

 

Chair Russell congratulated Joe Felz on his new appointment, saying this was the best staff they’d had in the nine years he’d been on Commission, and that he would be “inheriting a very, very good staff.” 

 

Chair Russell also commented that Maintenance attended the Commission meetings regularly, and suggested that Engineering staff could do the same and provide a monthly report and a representative.  He said he spoke with Director of Engineering Hoppe a couple of weeks ago, and that he was interested in being more involved.

 

There was a motion to adjourn at 10:35 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Ron Molendyk, Secretary

 

RM:pf

 

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