Parks & Rec. Commission Tweaks The FUAP, And More
IMPORTANT ISSUES CONSIDERED
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met again last night and dealt with a couple important issues. You can read the agenda HERE.
ABOUT MS. MERCURIO
Before we get to the important parts of the meeting, let me report to you that rookie commissioner Julie Mercurio - she who recently withdrew from the City Council race - attended this meeting, although you wouldn't know it if you depended solely on audio for your information. During the entire 2 plus hours of the meeting, with the exception of when she started the meeting by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, she was not heard to utter a single word. Even then, we couldn't tell if she spoke or lip synched it. In fact, it looked like she didn't even turn on her microphone the entire evening. We presume she can actually speak, since she looks like she's whispering in Commissioner Kim Pederson's ear in this image.
During Public Comments two speakers criticized Mercurio's selection. In fact, Cindy Black presented a slide show of all the applications for that appointive position to demonstrate how unqualified she was for the position. A couple of the commissioners, including my friend, Byron de Arakal, angrily defended her selection, citing the fact that she was a mother as reason enough for her appointment. I almost choked when he said that! Since this was early in the meeting he probably had no idea that she would become the invisible woman, offering not a single thing to the proceedings. It was clear at the time that her appointment was solely to give her some visibility during her council campaign. Last night she demonstrated just how unprepared she is for this assignment. The two items on the agenda were pithy enough that every commissioner should have had something to contribute to the discussion. All the others did.
So, enough with this charade... I'm asking Ms. Mercurio to simply step down - resign from the commission and let one of the other applicants be appointed to fill out Don Harper's term which expires in February. If we're going to pay her $100 a month for her service, she should at least try to provide some. Her continued presence on the dais is a constant reminder of the partisanship that rules our city.
During Public Comments Beth Refakes reminded us that the Military Affairs Team is, once again, collecting lightly-used cocktail dresses, ball gowns and accessories for the wives of the men of the 1/5 Marines at Camp Pendleton for the Marine Ball. Donations may be left in the lobby at City Hall.
Back to the meeting. The commission passed the Instructional Class Proposals on the Consent Calendar - they were all Ice Skating-related - without discussion.
FUAP REPORT AND MODIFICATIONS
The first item on the agenda was the spring Field Use Allocation Report (FUAP) and amendments to the existing policy. Recreation Manager Justin Martin led the discussion. You can read the staff report HERE. This is the completion of the first year this new FUAP has been in existence and, based on the report, the results are quite positive. The staff and the users had some tough going sorting out the residency requirements. Only one user - Newport Mesa Friday Night Lights - failed to produce sufficient numbers of verifiable residents to retain Group 3 status, and will have limited use of fields.
APPROVED WITH MODIFICATIONS
After lengthy discussions the commission, led by Chairman Brett Eckles, approved the Field Use Report and recommended modifications to the changes to the FUAP, including tightening up the definitions of what constitutes a "strike" against a group under the new Code of Conduct section. The staff will tinker with it following the direction provided by the commission before this issue is presented to the City Council for approval.
The other item on the agenda was the Review of Talbert Regional Park Final Habitat Restoration Plan, HERE. You can plow through the 168 pages if you wish. City Engineer Bart Mejia led this discussion and had assistance from Susan Brodeur from Orange County Parks. The commissioners heard the report and heard from members of the public, each of whom expressed a desire to keep Talbert Park as natural as possible.
Vice Chair Robert Graham provided some photographic information to demonstrate some things that could be done to make that area more accessible.
MOVING IT FORWARD...
Eventually the commission moved to partner with OC Parks to search for and apply for grants and other funding opportunities to fulfill the estimated $22 million necessary to complete the plan as presented. They also recommended Alternate 1 and segments of Alternates 2 and 3 for future consideration. Both de Arakal and Graham suggested that we should think big in this process - it's going to take quite awhile because of the many governmental entities that will have their oars in this water.
HIGH PRAISE FOR MARTIN AND STAFF
The evening finished with Martin providing his report on recent activities - none of which was included in the online staff report. Suffice it to say that things in the Recreation Division are looking up, with enhanced activities at the Senior Center and throughout the city. Several commissioners, including Kim Pederson, praised Martin and his staff for their outstanding work. The next meeting is August 25th.
BYRON WANTS SECURITY AT FUTURE MEETINGS!
One last thing... at the very end of the meeting de Arakal said he was going to ask CEO Tom Hatch and Police Chief Rob Sharpnack to assign a Sergeant-at-arms to all future Parks and Recreation meetings! This is very strange! I've attended most of these meetings and the crowd (a generous term for the few people normally attending) have NEVER been rowdy - EVER! I don't know what was going on at that meeting last night, or why he felt it necessary to take that step, but he mentioned safety. Maybe with Ms. Mercurio comes a more rowdy crowd... who knows?