Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Model Flyers Agreement Threatened?

Thursday, April 24, 2014 the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission, guided by the steady, confident hand of my friend, Byron de Arakal,  will hold its monthly meeting beginning at 6:00 in council chambers at City Hall.  You can read the agenda HERE.

Right off the top is Old Business Item A, the Renewal of the User Agreement with the Harbor Soaring Society, HERE.  A casual observer might think this would be a no-brainer and that it should pass with little controversy.  However, not everything is as they appear to be in Costa Mesa these days, particularly when it involves Fairview Park.

Harbor Soaring Society (HSS) has been using a small segment in Fairview Park to launch and fly their model aircraft for more than three decades.  It is  a highly-rated organization which provides each member flyer with $2,500,000 in liability insurance.  From all reports it has been an excellent tenant in Fairview Park, a good custodian of the area assigned to it and provides community outreach beyond the terms of the current agreement.

A year ago the Parks and Recreation Commission extended the agreement, but just for one year, not the five-years requested.  This year it looks to be the same - one-year instead of the 5 requested by the HSS so they can make longer-range plans for infrastructure improvements.

In addition, this time around it appears that the City - through the Parks and Recreation Commission - is trying to ask the HSS to accept more responsibility for behavior of individuals who are NOT members of their organization without the authority to enforce the rules.  I'm trying to figure out the wisdom of this move and am coming up short.  Read the redline version of the proposed new agreement - Attachment 3 to the staff report - and those items will jump off the page at you.

It has been widely assumed that certain members of the City Council covet opens spaces at Fairview Park for playing fields.  Members of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by the council have made it VERY clear about their desires to create a sports complex within the 208 acre boundary of the park.  I presumed that the reluctance to approve a longer-term agreement is because there is a plan afoot to oust the HSS at some point in the not-too-distant future.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out tomorrow evening.

Also on the agenda is the new Athletic Field Use and Allocation Policy for the commissions consideration.  The staff report is HERE.  The new document, modified to reflect the new reporting relationship since the creation of the new city department - the Parks and Community Services Department, headed by brand new Assistant Chief Executive Officer Tamara Letourneau - also contains some very significant changes in policy,not just appearance.  Please read the redline copy of the new document for quick reference to some of those changes.

For example, in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Friday Night Lights Football program and the Matt Leinart Football program - which apparently cost former Recreation Manager Bob Knapp his job - some re-definition of various user groups has taken place, particularly defining organizations that pay an executive staff.  Pages 3 and 4 begin to reflect those changes.  I noticed one line, standing alone on page 5, that appears to be redlined out of existence.  That line reads as follows:

Priority use of fields will be given to traditional primary season sports and by priority grouping.

What do you suppose that's all about?

I have no idea what kind of a turnout to expect for those first two items tomorrow, but I imagine many youth and adult sports groups will attend and, perhaps, address their concerns.  We'll see.

There are also two tree removal requests on the agenda at the end, HERE and HERE.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Shame on the council for even thinking about getting rid of the HSS. These people watch that park on a daily basis. They pick up trash, they remove tumbleweeds and they watch. Its important to have them there on so many levels. There is nowhere else for them to go. We need to consider what we are gaining as opposed to what we are losing.

4/23/2014 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Soaring just doesn't square with the extremist sports complex game plan for Fairview Park.

4/23/2014 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

I was a member for HSS back in the 80's. They (were) are a most responsible group. Asking them to take more responsiblity for non-members using the public park is kind of like asking Gary to take more responsibilty for the the drunks driving by his bar on a public street?

4/23/2014 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

What is it with these one year agreements?
First it was the OC Model Engineers, ( thank you Gary, for voting for the five year agreement) and now the
Fairview Park is made for these excellent tenants who are an asset to our community.
A sports complex is not compatible with Fairview Park at all.
Is this the "vision" Mensinger and Righeimer have for Costa Mesa?
No thanks!

4/23/2014 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

We respect your loyalty to deArakal. Maybe if he gets some developer consulting and committee appointments this year he'll act more like a friend.

4/23/2014 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Skeptical, I wonder how they would cause the HSS to enforce anything except their own members? Kind of strange, isn't it? At least with the club, the city receives license fees. If they negate the contract, then these guys will fly on their own. Its bad enough we have radio controlled cars out there tearing things up, and not licensed or caring at all for the area, but those that do a great job, such as HSS, get a raft of sh%$ for their effort. Only in Costa Mesa.

4/24/2014 07:00:00 AM  

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