Parks & Recreation Commission Meets, Selects Leaders
NEW COMMISSIONERS HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
The brand new Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday night, were sworn-in, selected their leadership and promptly got down to business.
SWEARING-IN AND PHOTOS
New commissioners Kristina (Krissie) Bogner, Leah Ersoylu, Liz McNabb, Kim Pederson and Arlis Reynolds all showed up, many with an entourage of family and friends in tow, and were promptly sworn-in by City Clerk Brenda Green, then took a few photos with their individual crews.
PEDERSON AND MCNABB TO LEAD
Next up they selected their leadership. Returning Commissioner Pederson - a 29-year employee of the City of Newport Beach in their parks maintenance organization who has been the Chairman of the commission in the past - was chosen as Chairman on a unanimous vote. McNabb was chosen as Vice Chair, also on a unanimous vote.
They promptly dispatched with the minutes from previous meetings, then turned their attention to members of the public who chose to speak to them on non-agenda items.
First up was former Planning Commissioner Mark Korando, who spoke with great outrage about his inability to utilize Lions Park with his grandchildren because he found most of it fenced-off - apparently a deterrent to the burgeoning homeless population. He estimated that 2/3 of the park is unattainable by residents.
enamored with Reynolds hard work."
Then came Commissioner Comments, and Chairman Pederson encouraged each to give the audience - a group of around 30 people, including Mayor Katrina Foley, Councilman John Stephens and Planning Commission Chairman Stephan Andranian (Councilman Allan Mansoor made a brief visit to the auditorium with his young daughter before the meeting began) - a quick summary of their backgrounds and interests.
CONSENT CALENDAR - POOF!
The Consent Calendar was quickly dispatched on a 5-0 vote without discussion.
Then came the issue of Commissioner Districts. This is the configuration the staff created, according to Recreation Manager Justin Martin, based on input from the commissioners, their interviews during the selection process and other variables.
Reynolds wondered why Balearic Park was not included and was advised that it belongs to the Newport Mesa Unified School District.
Bogner said she was convinced of the wisdom of NOT having a commissioner responsible for a nearby park to avoid conflict of interest - earlier she implied that she'd like to have Wilson Park as one of hers because she lived very close to it.
Five members of the public spoke to this issue.
Julie Fowler said the discussion had convinced her of the wisdom of having commissioners NOT represent a nearby park.
FAIRVIEW PARK A CONCERN - VOTE TAKEN
Much of the discussion revolved around Fairview Park - Reynolds clearly wanted it to be part of her group parks, citing better service to the community. Other members seemed willing to be flexible to change, but when it came to a vote - and after Pederson reminded them they could revisit this issue in the future - they chose to leave it just as the staff presented it on a 4-1 vote, with Reynolds voting NO.
Next came the Parks Project reports by Bart Mejia, City Engineer, and Tom Coughlin, Interim Maintenance Manager, on the status of Parks projects around the city. Mejia began by speaking about the status of street median projects and the Fairview Park report on the impact of Measure AA, currently underway. A report on park lighting issues will be issued in April or May coincident with the Capital Improvement Budget. He spoke about the Open Space Master Plan, indicating the outline is complete. ADA compliance issues with TeWinkle Park are going out to bid. The modifications at Jack Hammett Sports Complex - replacing Fields 1 and 2 with artificial turf, creating more parking and more restroom capability - is moving forward. He spoke about improving the appearance of the Newport Boulevard frontage areas. He also told the commissioners that the proposed expansion of the Skate Park will be in the hands of the consultant and community outreach will soon begin.
Coughlin spoke about replacing picnic structures at Paularino and Pinkley parks with new metal structures. He said the old wood structures are severly damaged by termites and rot. He spoke about the recent renovation of the Downtown Pool and the plans to replace the shade structure at the Senior Center. He will update the commission later on the status of our urban forest. During the last storm we apparently lost 55 trees with one home being damaged. In response to Commissioner Reynolds question, he responded that he cannot predict the completion of clean-up from storm damage because it's a fluid situation - with more rain coming and trees placed in jeopardy by the last storm are still upright.
RECREATION MANAGER'S REPORT
Recreation Manager Justin Martin then gave his report on the current status of recreation programs in the city. In general, most programs have seen significant increases in participation. Among the notable comments he made was that the ROCKS after school program is in 11 campuses and has 1,100 participant. The Presidents Day Camp - when schools are closed - also had good participation. He mentioned that the Neighborhood Community Center had closed and was in the process of having all furniture removed in anticipation of demolition - the first step in the Lions Park project. He told the commissioners that the current single story, 20,000 square foot structure will be removed and replaced by a two-story, 20,000 square foot building, which will result in the creation of an acre of available park space on the site. The demolition, construction of the new library building, renovation of the old library building and the installation of whatever will go into that new acre should be completed by 2020. In the meantime, all tenants of the NCC were assisted in finding new sites for their activities, including in neighboring cities, until the new facilities are ready to accommodate them again.
JOINT MEETING AND RECREATION CONFERENCE
As the meeting wound down Chairman Pederson mentioned that there will be a joint meeting with the City Council and Planning Commission on March 28th. Commissioner Ersoylu asked about the upcoming California Parks and Recreation Conference in Sacramento in March. Martin indicated he and some other staffers will attend. It will be held in Long Beach next year and Martin suggested some of the commissioners attend that one.
EAGER... PROCEDURES NEED TIGHTENING
A few thoughts about this new commission. First, all of them came ready to work. They all had specific things on their minds that they want to discuss in the future. Vice Chair McNabb, in particular, rattled off a long list of issues she wished to explore with the group. With the exception of Pederson, they all were trying to gain their sea legs - figuring out which button to push when voting, the proper decorum on the dais - all the "new guy" stuff that one faces in that role. I did notice that Pederson probably needs to refresh them on the proper procedure for asking questions. The proper form is for them to request the opportunity to speak from the chairman before just rattling on. Without some tightening-up of that element future meetings could devolve into chat sessions. Staff also needs to be reminded that their responses are to be directed to the chairman, then to the individual commissioners. It's not a big deal, but it's easy for things to become chaotic without following the rules.
A SMART, DEDICATED GROUP
I was VERY impressed with this new group. Their varied backgrounds and interests should make for some very thorough discussions on the important issues ahead of them. Each appeared to hold Fairview Park in a very special place, so discussions about the future of that particular park, particularly in light of Measure AA, will be interesting. It's interesting to note that this group seems not to have such a strong "youth sports" orientation as previous Parks and Recreation Commissions have had. That's not a bad thing. I'm going to enjoy watching them work. Congratulations to them all.
Labels: Arlis Reynolds, Bart Mejia, John Stephens, Justin Martin, Katrina Foley, Kim Pederson, Kristina Bogner, Leah Ersoylu, Liz McNabb, Parks and Recreation Commission, Stephan Andranian, Tom Coughlin