Eckles and Graham To Lead Parks Commission
A half-dozen residents attended as the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday evening for what I thought would be a short meeting - it wasn't - and elected Vice Chairman Brett Eckles as the new Chairman and long-time commissioner Bob Graham as Vice Chair. Commissioner Don Harper was absent for the second meeting in the row.
During Public Comments both Kim Hendricks and Cindy Black spoke about the latest initiative for which signatures are being circulated. A group called the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance has launched this effort and will be gathering signatures at Fairview Park, and elsewhere, each weekend. Hendricks displayed a new shirt with the logo of the group which apparently can be purchased for $20.00 and Black presented a slide announcing the signature-gathering effort for this weekend.
Dan Baker at City Hall, or call him at 714-754-5156.
Skateboard enthusiast Rocky Evans once again showed up to plead with the commissioners to find a way to extend the hours at the Volcom Skate Park and also to seriously consider a second skate park for the city.
THE NEW LIBRARY PLAN UPDATE
Next up was the presentation by Architect Steve Johnson of Johnson Favaro, the firm working on the project that will replace the existing Neighborhood Community Center at Lions Park with a brand, new two-story library and convert the existing round Donald Dungan Branch Library into a community meeting venue.
LOTS OF INFORMATION
Johnson showed us several dozen slides demonstrating the various steps and iterations of this project. Presuming all continues as planned, the project will proceed beginning next year and be completed in 2020. The existing NCC will be demolished and the new library building built nearby. Then the rest of the project will commence - including the re-skinning and re-configuration of the old Dungan building and the creation of re-configured parking and new park space.
LOSING MEETING SPACE
According to the plans, we will loose a couple thousand feet of meeting room space, but their analysis says that won't be a problem if we utilize it better. We were told that every time they do a new library facility the use quadruples. Commissioner Byron de Arakal asked if that growth was sustained beyond the original launch and was told that use tailed off slightly, but not much. de Arakal was concerned that we were only adding one parking space while theoretically increasing the use.
"ONLY" $34.5 MILLION!
We will pick up an additional acre of park space onsite, plus add one (1) additional parking space. And this little project will only cost us $34.5 million! He did not discuss the financial elements of this plan with the commissioners, but apparently did make a presentation to the Finance Advisory Committee and, according to folks who heard that presentation, a few of the committee members were not thrilled with the cost nor the plans.
Lucky you, I only included a few of Johnson's slides, but my understanding is that his entire package will be available on the city web site. One of the nifty features of the plan, shown above, is a food concession outside the buildings, but contiguous to one of them. It is presumed this would be a coffee/take-out food dispensary. If you want to see all of the presentation, check out the streaming video on the city web site or on CMTV.
The final business item on the agenda was the appointment of liaison members to two committees. The results of that selection process resulted in Byron de Arakal retaining his role as primary liaison to the Newport Mesa Unified School District, with Chairman Brett Eckles chosen as his alternate. Bob Graham was retained as the liaison for the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee, with member Kim Pederson chosen as alternate. Before the selection for that committee was completed Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia was asked how long the committee will remain dormant, to which he replied "Until the Parks Master Plan is completed." That is a date-uncertain right now.
DROUGHT PROBLEMS AND MORE
Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley provided us with a lengthy description of the impact of the drought on our urban forest. He also told us of the recent accomplishments by his group, and of the pending and current projects.
LOSING TREES FASTER THAN WE CAN REPLACE
Regarding the drought, he told us that we are seeing a net loss in trees - we're losing them faster than we can replace them. During the discussion he disclosed that there is no longer a source for reclaimed water - that their supplier prefers to dump it back into the aquifer rather than sell it for use on plants.
OUTSOURCING STRIKES AGAIN!
Perhaps the most interesting part of his presentation was the disclosure of a Request For Proposals for the outsourcing most of his organization that's in the works! Right now his group is diminished from 31 positions to 21, and of those, 8 will be exempt - two people who remove graffiti and six people who will oversee the outsourced work. The remaining thirteen individuals are being, or will be, absorbed into other city positions. Hartley told me NOBODY will lose their jobs due to this outsourcing. Apparently this arrangement was negotiated with the Costa Mesa City Employee Association.
During his brief Recreation Manager's Report Travis Karlen told us that he and his staff will be attending a conference in Long Beach next month at which they will receive an award for their "Ranch Program".
During Commissioner Comments Pederson said he was looking forward to the completion of the update of the Master Plan. He also reminded us of the opening of youth sports season this weekend - little league baseball starts Saturday and soccer begins the following weekend.