MY VERSION OF THE MEETING
OK, so my impressions of the inaugural Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meeting won't be the only ones available to you after all. Reporters from the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register were onhand to cover the event. I'm going to give you my shorthand impressions of the meeting and let you ferret out the other details elsewhere.
ALL MEMBERS PRESENT
The meeting began with all the chosen members of the new committee present and ready to get to work. Those names are: Ron Amburgey, Terry Cummings, Brett Eckles, Dr. Richard Mehren, Dennis Popp, Lee Ramos, Steve Smith, David Stiller
and Anna Vrska
LIAISONS AND STAFFERS
In addition, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger
and council member Sandra Genis
, as liaisons to this committee were present. Dean Abernathy
and Bob Graham
, liaisons from the Parks and Recreation Commission also attended. Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz
, Fairview Park Project Manager Bart Mejia
and City Engineer Fariba Faselli
were among the staff members present to help guide the conversation and provide perspective on the park itself.
MEHREN AND SMITH TO LEAD THE COMMITTEE
The first order of business was to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman. Mehren, Smith and Amburgey were all nominated for Chairman. When the vote was taken Mehren had 4 votes, Smith had 3 and Amburgey had 2, so Dr. Richard Mehren was elected as Chairman. This appears to be an excellent choice, because Dr. Mehren was previously the Chairman of the previous committee for 15 years and led the effort to craft the first Fairview Park Master Plan. Steve Smith was the only person nominated for Vice Chairman, so he was chosen.
(Dr. Richard Mehren, Chairman, and Steve Smith, Vice Chairman)
MEJIA GUIDES THE DISCUSSION
As might be expected, this group got off to a shaky start, with more than a little confusion about their actual charter. Bart Mejia presented information to help with that process, including these two slides that provided some guidance for the committee.
Early in the meeting the group got a little off track, in my opinion, by focusing on the pending budget discussions. They expressed concerns about having sufficient time to do a careful assessment and then present budget views to the council before the new budget is approved in a couple weeks. In my view, they need not worry about that at all. It's not their charter, but some of the members just couldn't let it go. Finally, Munoz suggested that any members that had concerns about the list of items he provided to them that were being considered for this new budget process should send him an email and he would be sure the council received the information. The committee won't have an official position on those issues this time around.
LIGHTS OR NO LIGHTS?
One of the "current projects" included on the list provided to the committee members was "lights in the parking lot". Genis took strong exception to that item, indicating that the Fairview Park Master Plan did not permit lights - that the park is a "dawn to dusk" park and that any attempt to install lights anywhere in the park will require re-opening the Master Plan first. Mehren seemed to support her view. Mensinger was agitated and tried to cut off her discussion. Again, this was not within the purview of the committee, but they spent a lot of time on it.
One thing became clear as individual members were asked what their priorities might be for the park - there are factions that would like to install playing fields in the park. Amburgey made it abundantly clear that he felt the city needed more playing fields and the park is a perfect place for them. He said most of the fields presently being used belong to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District via the Joint Use Agreement. He wanted to build fields in Fairview Park, where the city could control them and let the school district worry about their fields.
Eckles voiced much the same concern about the shortage of fields, although not in as strong terms as Amburgey. Mensinger jumped in - he could see where this was going - and tried to re-direct the discussion lest folks think they "knew what was in his mind"... his words.
MENSINGER AND GENIS SHOULD THROTTLE BACK
At this point let me state that both Mensinger and Genis were MUCH too vocal during this meeting. Yes, Genis has a wealth of knowledge that she should share when appropriate, but she overplayed that, in my opinion. Mensinger, on the other hand, just seemed unable to keep his mouth shut. He constantly tried to take over the meeting, which put Mehren at a real disadvantage.
ANNA SETS HIM STRAIGHT
Finally, the youngest member of the committee, Anna Vrska, looked directly at Mensinger and opined that she hoped he would be able to just sit and listen in the future and let the committee run its business and not try to steer the conversation. I'm still smiling...
PLANES AND TRAINS
There was a lot of discussion about both the Model Railroad group and the Harbor Soaring Society, and concern for their future in the park. The airplane folks just had their permit extended for only one year - it expires in December - and the railroad folks have their permit pending within a couple months. Mehren expressed concern for both long-time, very positive uses and seemed concerned that there are plan afoot to oust one or both of them. The railroad venue - on the Eastside of Placentia Avenue - looks like an area where those in favor of playing fields might be eyeballing. Mensinger has been trying to figure out how to put a parking lot into the southern part of the park near Estancia High School and the flat take-off and landing site used by the airplane folks seems perfect. In my opinion, both groups should be very worried. Why do I say that? Because Mensinger assured them that they would always be there!
LOOKING FOR A ROAD MAP
The conversations last night were robust. Most commitee members took their opportunities to express their views about the process and some specifics on their ideas for the park. A few expressed concern about what, specifically, their mission was supposed to be. Again, all that "budget" conversation sidetracked the discussions. Concern about their ability to gather community input in this process was expressed several times. Munoz discussed distributing a survey to all residents, but that it was premature until the committee had a tighter focus on THEIR vision for the park.
MORE GUIDANCE NEXT TIME
Eventually it was agreed that the staff would provide some critical information for them - like a copy of Roberts Rules Of Order (suggested, ironically, by Mensinger), and some instruction on the Brown Act - which covers this committee's activities. There was a discussion about a Park tour for the members, to provide them with perspective and to understand more clearly just what can and cannot be done in certain parts of the park.
NEXT MEETING TIME AND DATE UNDETERMINED
The next meeting date was not established because the logical time and date had a space conflict. Munoz will review the available times, dates and venue and poll the committee members on their thoughts. It's likely it will be held during the first couple weeks of July.
THE TRAIN IS ROLLING...
So, they are off and running under the steady and knowledgable hand of Dr. Richard Mehren. I suspect the next meeting will run much more smoothly and the committee will gain focus on what's ahead of them. As Genis reminded them, the City Council has not given them a due date for completion of their effort.
Labels: Fairview Park, Richard Mehren, Sandra Genis, Steve Mensinger, Steve Smith