Friday, February 26, 2016

Eckles and Graham To Lead Parks Commission

A half-dozen residents attended as the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday evening for what I thought would be a short meeting - it wasn't - and elected Vice Chairman Brett Eckles as the new Chairman and long-time commissioner Bob Graham as Vice Chair.  Commissioner Don Harper was absent for the second meeting in the row.
During Public Comments both Kim Hendricks and Cindy Black spoke about the latest initiative for which signatures are being circulated.  A group called the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance has launched this effort and will be gathering signatures at Fairview Park, and elsewhere, each weekend.  Hendricks displayed a new shirt with the logo of the group which apparently can be purchased for $20.00 and Black presented a slide announcing the signature-gathering effort for this weekend.
Beth Refakes reminded us again of the Eggstravaganza - the collection of candies, toys and plastic Easter Eggs in which they will be place for the Easter Egg Hunt for the children of our adopted Marine group, the 1/5 at Camp Pendleton.  Collections of toys, small, individually-wrapped candies and plastic eggs will continue until March 18 and may be deposited in the footlocker in the City Hall lobby.  Those wishing to donate cash instead can email Dan Baker at City Hall, or call him at 714-754-5156.

Skateboard enthusiast Rocky Evans once again showed up to plead with the commissioners to find a way to extend the hours at the Volcom Skate Park and also to seriously consider a second skate park for the city. 
Jay Humphrey congratulated the new officers and thanked the outgoing Chairman Kim Pederson for his leadership this past year.  He also referred to the Fairview Park initiative, indicating that the acquisition of Talbert Nature Preserve would NOT be prohibited by the initiative.
Next up was the presentation by Architect Steve Johnson of Johnson Favaro, the firm working on the project that will replace the existing Neighborhood Community Center at Lions Park with a brand, new two-story library and convert the existing round Donald Dungan Branch Library into a community meeting venue.
Johnson showed us several dozen slides demonstrating the various steps and iterations of this project.  Presuming all continues as planned, the project will proceed beginning next year and be completed in 2020.  The existing NCC will be demolished and the new library building built nearby.  Then the rest of the project will commence - including the re-skinning and re-configuration of the old Dungan building and the creation of re-configured parking and new park space.
According to the plans, we will loose a couple thousand feet of meeting room space, but their analysis says that won't be a problem if we utilize it better.  We were told that every time they do a new library facility the use quadruples.  Commissioner Byron de Arakal asked if that growth was sustained beyond the original launch and was told that use tailed off slightly, but not much.  de Arakal was concerned that we were only adding one parking space while theoretically increasing the use.
We will pick up an additional acre of park space onsite, plus add one (1) additional parking space.  And this little project will only cost us $34.5 million!  He did not discuss the financial elements of this plan with the commissioners, but apparently did make a presentation to the Finance Advisory Committee and, according to folks who heard that presentation, a few of the committee members were not thrilled with the cost nor the plans.
Lucky you, I only included a few of Johnson's slides, but my understanding is that his entire package will be available on the city web site.  One of the nifty features of the plan, shown above, is a food concession outside the buildings, but contiguous to one of them.  It is presumed this would be a coffee/take-out food dispensary.  If you want to see all of the presentation, check out the streaming video on the city web site or on CMTV.

The final business item on the agenda was the appointment of liaison members to two committees.  The results of that selection process resulted in Byron de Arakal retaining his role as primary liaison to the Newport Mesa Unified School District, with Chairman Brett Eckles chosen as his alternate.  Bob Graham was retained as the liaison for the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee, with member Kim Pederson chosen as alternate.  Before the selection for that committee was completed Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia was asked how long the committee will remain dormant, to which he replied "Until the Parks Master Plan is completed."  That is a date-uncertain right now.
Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley provided us with a lengthy description of the impact of the drought on our urban forest.  He also told us of the recent accomplishments by his group, and of the pending and current projects.
Regarding the drought, he told us that we are seeing a net loss in trees - we're losing them faster than we can replace them.  During the discussion he disclosed that there is no longer a source for reclaimed water - that their supplier prefers to dump it back into the aquifer rather than sell it for use on plants.
Perhaps the most interesting part of his presentation was the disclosure of a Request For Proposals for the outsourcing most of his organization that's in the works!  Right now his group is diminished from 31 positions to 21, and of those, 8 will be exempt - two people who remove graffiti and six people who will oversee the outsourced work.  The remaining thirteen individuals are being, or will be, absorbed into other city positions.  Hartley told me NOBODY will lose their jobs due to this outsourcing.  Apparently this arrangement was negotiated with the Costa Mesa City Employee Association.
During his brief Recreation Manager's Report Travis Karlen told us that he and his staff will be attending a conference in Long Beach next month at which they will receive an award for their "Ranch Program".
During Commissioner Comments Pederson said he was looking forward to the completion of the update of the Master Plan.  He also reminded us of the opening of youth sports season this weekend - little league baseball starts Saturday and soccer begins the following weekend.
Graham told us he still thought we should name the pools in Fairview Park - like the Great Lakes are named - and proceeded to present an "educational" experience for us using overhead slides showing how the Great Lakes work.
de Arakal was concerned about the net loss of trees and the unavailability of grey water.  He also opined that he wanted to get the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee back to work soon.
Chairman Eckles also mentioned the youth sports events and asked about including school kids in a future meeting.  Recreation Manager Travis Karlen told us that there's a "Youth In Government" program in the works.
The meeting ended at 8:20 p.m., adjourned until the next meeting on Thursday, March 24th.

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Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

Let’s see…A resident who volunteers to serve on a city committee receives no compensation for his or her time and effort, no reimbursement for expenses incurred, and rarely any thanks. The committee has no authority to make anything happen or prevent something from happening.

All a city committee can do is study the matter assigned to it by the city council and make recommendations to the city council. And in Costa Mesa, the committee, such as the Pension Advisory Committee, isn’t even allowed to discuss the matter, much less make a recommendation, until the Council has made a final decision.

The Fairview Park Advisory Committee isn’t even allowed to meet and discuss a possible recommendation until after the Park’s Master Plan is completed!

Would someone please tell me why anyone thinks it worth his or her time to serve on a city committee in Costa Mesa? Is it just something to talk about when running for election to the City Council?

2/26/2016 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Elanor, I think the answer is yes, it is something to talk about when running for city council. People can volunteer, but only the "chosen" are able to serve.

2/27/2016 02:03:00 PM  

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