Friday, September 26, 2014

Parks & Recreation Commission Meeting Wrap

The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday evening for what turned out to be a fairly brief affair.  New Recreation Manager Travis Karlen was welcomed as he manned the barricades for his first meeting.  He handled himself well.

The commission accepted the donation and plaque from Melody Freeman in memory of her friend and co-worker, Kimberly Curtis, who passed away recently.  The tree and plaque will be placed in TeWinkle Park.

The first item on the agenda was a tree removal request from the resident at 2016 Arnold Street.  The commission made short work of this item - the decision was made unanimously in less than five (5) minutes to deny the request that the City remove the tree because it is on private property.  I've subsequently heard from the property owner, who was unable to attend the meeting because it fell on a religious holiday.   She tells me she doesn't want the tree removed at all.  She just wants the City to continue to maintain it as has been the case for decades.  She plans to seek relief from this decision.

On the issue of dividing the city into five (5) park districts and assigning a district to each commissioner - the brainstorm of Chairman Byron de Arakal - generated some discussion.  The chairman told us he thinks this is a good idea and wants to have it codified in the Municipal Code.  His plan would call for every park to have new signage placed at two entrances to each park in the city which would include the name of the commissioner responsible for that particular park.

In his scheme, residents with issues involving a particular park would be in touch with the commissioner via the contact information on the signs.  The commissioner would discuss the issue with the complainant and the staff and, if necessary, bring it to the commission for discussion.  Additionally, each commissioner would be expected to report to the commission on the status of each of their parks twice a year, and be prepared to make recommendations on capital improvements coincident with the annual budget cycle.  The commission decided to have the staff further flesh out this plan and bring it back to the commission for further discussion/fine-tuning.  It may be voted upon in November.

Here are my thoughts on this.... We've been getting along just fine without this change.  Is it really necessary?  I don't disagree that it's a good idea to assign each commissioner a specific group of parks for which they would be the primary contact.  Some conversation was made about rotating the assigned groups among the commissioners every two years.  That seems like a good idea.  I think putting the names of individual commissioners on the park signs is a bad idea and will cause too much maintenance as commissioners rotate from group to group.  I think the sign should simply refer questions to the Parks and Recreation Department, who could forward them on to the proper commissioner, if necessary.

Next up was the donation of the cost of installing a second exit at the Costa Mesa Bark Park.  The Bark Park Foundation no longer manages the facility, but it has some cash left and Shirley McDaniels, representing the Bark Park Foundation, wanted to contribute the costs of installing the additional entrance.  The commission discussed this for a few minutes, then agreed unanimously to accept the donation and instructed staff to assist with the installation of the new entrance.

Then came the discussion of the new 19th Street Monument Signs that would be installed in concert with the 19th Street Improvement project.  That project, which would be funded by nearly $900,000 in grant dollars, will strangle traffic along the stretch of 19th Street from the city border at Irvine Avenue all the way to Fullerton Avenue, near the terminus of the 55 Freeway.  Monument signs would be placed at either end of the project.  The image you see here is the final selection.  The commission voted to move this project forward with the selected signs.  A couple residents, including 19th Street resident, realtor and President of the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group, Jeff McConville, spoke in favor of this plan.

The final item on the agenda was Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman's report on the nearly half-million dollar Bristol Street Media Project.  Grant dollars will be used for this project, too.  The goal is to make that roadway safer and beautify it at the same time.  The plan was approved on a 5-0 vote.

New Recreation Manager Karlen gave his report on the status of summer activities in the city.  I won't give you all the statistics, but will observe that most youth-oriented programs - Teen Camp, R.O.C.K.S, ECP (early childhood program), Summer Day Camp were almost all over-subscribed with some waiting lists.  Regarding the Neighborhood Community Center, Karlen reported that in July and August more than 17,000 people were served by that facility and it generated more than $27,000 in revenue.  This, you will recall, is the facility that your mayor described as underutilized as a reason for planning to convert it into a library.  Somebody needs to take a much, much closer look at that situation because I've heard no plan that replaces that space for the residents.

Karlen also reported on the Senior Center and the hostile takeover (my words) of that facility this month.  Plans are afoot to spruce up the place, with new carpet and some new furniture.  He told us more than 900 people have signed up to become members since June. (Note some of the names on this plaque from the Senior Center Building)

During commissioner reports mention was made about a "lighting demonstration" that apparently occurred last night somewhere in the city.  Apparently there will be a meeting next Tuesday, September 30, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in council  chambers to discuss lighting the fields at Kaiser School on the Eastside of town.  I expect the contiguous neighbors will receive notices of this one - and we plan to be there to hear the message.

Commissioner Bob Graham apparently visited the Newport Beach City Hall recently and viewed a large display of public art at the site. He suggested we consider doing something similar throughout the city.  He specifically mentioned Fairview Park.

Chairman de Arakal also mentioned he wants to begin considering banning "vaping" - the use of electronic cigarettes - in all parks throughout the city.  He also wants to consider using the Senior Center Parking Lot for some kind of outdoor recreation facility for the Seniors.  He mentioned lawn bowling.

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Anonymous sk said...

I like how you think! You are so right about the cost of changing the signs every two years.

9/26/2014 06:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

What is the fixation with signs? Its like a kid with a label maker sticking them up on everything. We know where we live, we don't need a sign to tell us.

I had the same idea, Geoff, on the signs in the parks. There isn't a need to have a name on them other than someone likes to see his name in public. Just put the city rec dept phone number and let them field the calls. I can't imagine there will be that many.

No offense to library lovers, but taking the community center away and turning it into a library is a completely stupid idea. Lets just enhance the ones we have. Lots less money, and we will still have the community center.

Instead of artwork in the park, why not put in native trees? We have a riparian center below, why not complete the project with trees that would attract more birds? That is the best form of art in a nature park.

As far as "vaping", who would be the people to monitor and control that? We have entire groups of people that go to Fairview Park daily and smoke like chimneys and dump their cig butts all over in front of Waldorf School. Thanks to our councilmen, we have not enough park rangers to enforce the laws with smoking in the park, much less vaping. That's kind of a joke, right?

Wait, maybe we can make a sign.

9/26/2014 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous It has to be said...

A lawn at the Senior Center would provide the 30+ homeless campers much nicer accommodations.

"Branding" with the monumental signage is so "Ron Swanson" it's no wonder they want to church up their titles from "Parks and Rec".

Who needs park rangers when we can have signs?

9/26/2014 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve Smith said...

Geoff: You asked the right question about the park districts and signage: "Is it really necessary?" Were there any benefits offered as to why this should be supported?

9/26/2014 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

In theory, assigning commissioners a group of parks will provide accountability for the oversight of those parks. It's unclear just what authority and/or liability comes with such an assignment. If you have views, share them with the staff as they move forward with this scheme.

9/26/2014 02:47:00 PM  

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