Monday, May 01, 2017

Parks & Rec. Commission Kicks The Can - Twice

Although I was out of town and did not attend the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission meeting of Thursday, April 27, 2017, when we finally returned home this weekend I carved out some time to watch my recording of the meeting, a meeting that lasted just over 4 hours and played to a large crowd - both of which are very unusual for this group.  It was not surprising, though, because there were a couple items on the agenda that I expected to take some time, and they did.  You can read the full agenda HERE.
The most interesting part of this meeting for me was the fact that this group of very smart, very inquisitive commissioners, found it necessary to push both Old Business items off for further consideration.

Let's take it from the top...
At the very beginning of the meeting Chairman Kim Pederson told the audience - a large crowd had assembled in the City Council Chambers for this meeting - that two items that were part of the presentation of the Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation were begin removed from the package.  Those were the mention of a possible public pool at Tanager Park and the reference to a Sports Complex at Fairview Park.  It was apparent from the reaction to this announcement that most of the folks in the room were there to talk about the pool at Tanager Park.  The latter item was a typo - a misunderstanding by someone who typed the report.  There is NO plan for a sports complex at Fairview Park - the item should have read "Fairview Developmental Center".

The commission approved the minutes of both the March 15th Study Session and the March 23rd meeting.

During Public Comments nine (9) people rose to address the commission.  Among those who spoke were:
  • Flo Martin, who presented a Power Point of a tree that fell in Wilson Park last Wednesday while many people were in the park.
  • Mark Korando, his wife and Granddaughter addressed the inability of the public to use Lions Park because of so much of it being fenced off, lack of restroom facilities and containing locked gates.
  • Jay Humphrey - making his first appearance at a meeting in council chambers since his serious back surgery - addressed the need to protect Fairview Park vernal pools, citing a recent event when some bozo in a pickup truck drove through some of them and had to be towed from the park.
  • Ed Guilmette again rose to address the issue of Urban Mushers in Fairview Park and complained that the City was doing nothing about it.
  • Kim Hendricks also spoke about Fairview Park, opining that we need to do a better job of protecting it and follow the lead of 70.9% of the voters who voted in the last election to protect it from any kind of development.

  • During Commissioner Comments Commissioner Leah Ersoylu had no comments.
  • Vice Chair Liz McNabb spoke about the many recent events around the City and about the then-upcoming Action Arts In The Park, scheduled for last Saturday.
  • Commissioner Krissie Bogner spoke about a fundraiser for Fresh Beginnings Ministry.
  • Commissioner Arlis Reynolds thanked the members of the public for attending and participating.  She spoke about the need for Vernal Pool training and asked about the fallen tree in Wilson Park and wondered how the staff determines if a tree is so distressed that it may fall, citing a Public Safety issue.
  • Chairman Pederson thanked Realtor Valerie Torelli for again hosting the Eggstravaganza over Easter weekend.  He also suggested, in response to one speaker comment, that the commissioners consider a tour of all the parks in the City, observing that the Brown Act makes it dicey.

They approved the Consent Calendar - which included two tree/plaque donations - on a 5-0 vote without discussion.
The first Old Business item - upgrades to the Shiffer Park Cell Site - took about a half-hour of discussion, which included one public comment.  During the discussion there were several questions unanswered by the staff and representative of the organization managing the site - including those involving revenue and whether this plan is impacted by Measure Y.  At the end the commission voted, 5-0, to kick this can down the road to their meeting in May so those questions could be answered.
At just after 7:00 p.m. the commission began the discussion of the Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation.  Consultant Zach Mueting of RJM Design Group and City Engineer Bart Mejia made the presentation.  This presentation was familiar to those of us who have followed the progress of this process.  You can read the lengthy staff report - including the 384 page Master Plan - HERE. The discussion of this item lasted nearly 2 hours, including the seventeen (17) speakers who addressed it.  Most of those, despite the fact that the pool at Tanager Park was being deleted from the plan, spoke to that issue.  It was clear that overwhelming community sentiment against a pool at that park - in fact, most speakers wanted NO CHANGES in that park - had been whipped up over the past couple weeks.  As indicated in Luke Money's excellent coverage in the Daily Pilot, HERE, the commissioners voted unanimously to bring this issue back to them for further review at their next meeting.  Public Comments will be received until May 10th and a report issued to the commissioners listing all the suggestions made at the recent Study Session and this meeting plus new public input by May 12th.  The next meeting where this will be discussed is May 25th.  Again, the commissioners kicked this can down the road.
Following a short break the commissioners tackled three separate tree removal issues and voted to deny every one of them.  Interim Manager Tom Coughlin made the presentations. The first two were unanimous, but Bogner voted NO on the third one.  See the staff report, above, for the details.
Mejia presented an update of previously approved projects that are either underway or are being put out to bid.  These included:
  • Fairview Park parking lot paving
  • Paving in TeWinkle Park
  • Playground resurfacing in TeWinkle Park
  • Tanager Drive Bike Trail
  • Repaving Balaeric Park Play Area
  • Conceptual design of a new Skate Park.  Public input will be sought in May.

Recreation Manager Justin Martin provided added information about the re-surfacing of Angel's Playground in TeWinkle Park, indicating that it will be completed by May 13th.  He then listed a roster of participation at many recreation programs around the city, each of which has shown an uptick in participants.  He included comments about the progress of the rehabilitation of fields 3 and 4 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex by the Los Angeles Chargers and mentioned their contribution of $50,000 toward the new mobile recreation van.  He also spoke about his interaction with Urban Mushers and those opposed to that activity in our parks, primarily Fairview Park.  He was encouraged that both sides will be able to make things work.  In response to an inquiry by Reynolds Martin advised the commission of awards bestowed upon Costa Mesa volunteers at a recent meeting.  Sharon Margolis received recognition for her work at the Costa Mesa Senior Center and Andrea Marr, Chair of the Cultural Arts Committee, accepted the award for that group.  Kudos to them both.
Bogner asked for a report on the Brentwood Park project.

Pederson adjourned the meeting at just after 10:15 p.m.... Ugh!
I must say that while watching the recording of the meeting I was VERY impressed by the quality of the questions and responses given by the commissioners.  This is clearly one SMART group, who have done their homework on the important issues facing them and take their responsibilities very seriously.  I suspect we may see large crowds at these meetings in the future as they plow through some of the tough challenges that will be facing them.  They certainly seem up to it, despite the fact that they booted two important items to a future meeting.  It was the right thing to do in both cases.

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Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

4 hours.I would have hit the fast forward many times. Out of town sounds great. Here we come Forks....

5/01/2017 10:33:00 AM  

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