Short Parks & Rec. Commission Meeting
A SHORT MEETING ANTICIPATED
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met again on Thursday, October 27, 2016 for what we expected to be a very short meeting because of the nature of the agenda.
NO PUBLIC COMMENTS
There were NO public comments and most of the commissioners either had no comments or reserved their comments until their Park Report later in the meeting.
They made quick work of the Consent Calendar - a request for two plaques and trees honoring two women who served the community as members of the Historical Society. The vote was 5-0.
The tree request on the agenda was a very strange situation. Apparently nobody is sure whether the tree in question is a city tree or if it belongs to the homeowner, Ms. Humphries. After a short discussion the commission decided to direct staff to determine who owns the tree and, if the city owns is, the applicant can return at the November meeting to plead her case. If it is determined that she actually owns the tree she can remove it any time she wishes.
SHIFFER PARK CELL SITE EXPANSION
The item involving the possible expansion of an existing cell tower installation at Shiffer Park and, again, it was a curious discussion. The commissioners discussed it at length and were frustrated by the fact that the applicant was not present to answer some of he important questions. Interim Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman attempted to field questions about timing and scheduling to the City Council. The discussion went round and round and the frustration about not having enough information information to make a proper decision. Byron de Arakal made a motion to continue this issue until the November meeting at which time they expect the applicant to be ready with answers to many of the questions that were creating heartburn for the commissioners. Julie Mercurio made a substitute motion to simply reject the proposal - it died for lack of a second. de Arakal's motion passed, 5-0
PARK TOUR REPORTS
Next came the Park Tour Reports - information from each commissioner on each of the parks in their own individual districts. Mercurio disappeared at this time and never returned. I guess an hour was all she had in her tank last night.
First up was Commissioner de Arakal, for Parks District #1. There are 7 parks in this district.
- Raleigh Park is a small park in good shape.
- Tanager Park has some issues that de Arakal wants to discuss with members of the community early next year.
- Civic Center Park is in good shape. de Arakal wants to propose meandering trails and benches through the park if their is community support.
- Jack Hammett Sports Complex were described as being in phenomenal shape. He mentioned the planned replacement of two of the fields with artificial turf and also addressed the need maintenance for drainage and rain gutters on the bathrooms.
- Ketchum-Libolt Park is a pocket park that needs maintenance - paint and rust. He would like to see some lighting from a security standpoint. He was concerned that the memorial plaque has been defaced.
- Wilson Park was described as "fair". Equipment is good. Playground is in good shape. Some trees are dead. Ongoing issue is transients and homeless folks in the park. de Arakal complained about the circumstances that have caused the transients to exist on our streets. He mentioned AB 109, Prop. 47 and Prop 57 on this current ballot. He said Governor Brown and the folks in Sacramento have no moral compass. The folks around Wilson Park simply cannot use their park because of the homeless and other transients. He wants Assistant CEO Rick Francis and his team to come before the commission to describe what is being done. He specifically stated, "We need to take our parks back."
- TeWinkle Park is overall in excellent condition. He was particularly effusive about the condition of the lakes and fountains. He was concerned about the pumps not working in the upper pond and there was leakage in another pond. He mentioned the need for maintenance of bridges. He said there was money in the capital improvement budget to replace them this year.
- TeWinkle Athletic Complex was in good shape with some minor maintenance issues - light fixtures in the bathrooms and an exposed electrical outlet.
- The Skate Park was in excellent condition, but he was very concerned about the violation of the rules of the park. He specifically cited folks on bikes in the bowls, which are forbidden. When he broached the fact to the riders he was told, "To go have sexual relations with myself." - his words. He is very concerned about limited enforcement at the park. He said it's out of control. He expressed the view that we didn't need mirrors in the bathrooms because they have become graffiti canvas.
- The Bark Park is in good shape. He specifically praised the improvements made recently to the Small Dog Park.
Vice Chair Bob Graham reported on District 3 which consists of 6 parks on the Eastside of town.
- He first spoke about Heller Park in glowing terms. He gave it an "A" rating.
Pinkley Park is a larger park which he gave a "C" rating. He suggested creating some kind of a "recognition wall" in this park. He is concerned that there are no restrooms in this park.
- Harper Park is carved out of school property on Tustin Avenue. This also has no restrooms.
Jordan Park, which includes the Boys and Girls Club. He expressed concerns about the actual ownership of the park - the City or the club? He felt parking was a problem. He gave it a "B" rating.
Lindbergh Park is part of a school complex. Restrooms are available at the school. He gave it a "B" rating.
Brentwood Park has no restrooms nor swings but he described it as a great park. He mentioned a Master Plan for the park. He gave it a "C" rating.
Commissioner Kim Pederson reported on District 4 parks - also 6 parks in the north part of the city.
Del Mesa Park, Gisler Park, Paularino Park, Shiffer Park, Wakeham Park and Wimbledon Park. He cited a need for bike racks. He opined that there should be a clean-up fee for rentals to be sure the residue from the rental activity is properly cleaned-up.
- Del Mesa Park seemed well-used with a lot of areas for picnicing. He was concerned about wood rotting.
- Gisler Park needs a gate to curtail speeders at night. He also cited the need for drinking fountains and a shade structure for the play area. He cited a need for workout equipment.
- Paularino Park needs the replacement of the shade structure, which is termite-eaten. He expressed a preference for BBQs and the need to improve signage and add drinking fountains.
- Schiffer Park needs upgrades in the restrooms and play areas.
- Wakeham Park could use some split rail fencing in the park to enhance the appeal. He said we need some boulders - kids love big rocks to climb on and no maintenance. Also needs shade structure.
- Wimbledon Park needs new playground equipment, drinking fountains and benches.
Chair Brett Eckles discussed District 5. Shalimar Park is the smallest park in this district and is very heavily used. Unfortunately, the picnic table was removed due to damage caused by vandals.
- Fairview Park is our biggest park and has had a lot of attention paid to it. He cited recent CIP budgeted amounts, including storm drains, on-call environmental services, plant establishment and pond maintenance, west bluff repair and more.
- Canyon Park opens up into Talbert Nature Reserve and you can walk for hours. It's a well-used park with plenty of amenities but no restrooms nor shade structures.
- Marina View Park was being well-used at the end of 19th Street with many amenities including a large grass play area.
- Vista Park is his personal favorite, which provides an outstanding view of the ocean and Huntington Beach. This 7 acre park has a restroom and many other amenities. It does have "homelessness" challenges caused by low visibility and proximity to homeless encampments at Talbert Park. Restroom needs paint and he suggests adding a Veterans Memorial.
- Lions Park is an incredible site with the new community center/library complex underway, plus Davis Field. It has a restroom and picnic tables. He cited the ongoing homelessness issues that plague the park and maintenance issues.
As mentioned above, Commissioner Julie Mercurio disppeared as de Arakal began his report and never returned so Eckles gave an abbreviated report on her parks in District 2.
- Estancia Park has had several projects completed, including bike racks installed near the restrooms. Plans also exist to install electric hand dryers in the restrooms.
- Mesa Verde Park have plans to improve the shade shelter.
- Moon Park will be impacted by an upcoming 405 Freeway on/off ramp project
- Smallwood Park have funding to resurface the basketball ares and areas around the playground.
- Suburbia Park had only a report on the maintenance of the park.
Justin Martin provided his Recreation Managers Report for which there was no online staff report available. Generally, participation is increasing in all athletic activities.
NEXT MEETING A WEEK EARLY
The commission meeting was adjourned to November 17, 2016, a week earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
COMPLICATIONS IN THE STAFF WORK?
Just a short observation. There were two items on the agenda tonight that probably should not have been there. The tree removal request certainly had enough questions - like who the heck actually owns the tree - to delay it until that question was answered. And the staff report for the cell facility expansion at Shiffer Park certainly didn't provide enough information to the commissioners and the applicant wasn't available to answer questions. In both cases it appeared that the staff had been strained to try to get them handled. I'm not sure what the reason is, but for the past few months it appears that some of the staff work has dropped off. Personally, I suspect it's because we have lost so many experienced staffers and the new folks are paddling hard to get up to speed.