Chair Miller called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.
Commissioner Han led the flag salute.
Present: Kathleen Baier Dalton, Virginia Han, George Miller, Sharon Quirk, Craig Russell, Nancy Spencer, Neil Swanson
Staff Present: Susan Hunt, Community Services Director; Community Services Managers Randy McDaniel, Grace Miranda, and Pat Trotter; Center Coordinator Eduardo Burciaga; and Clerical Assistant II Carol Whitaker
Commissioner Dalton MOVED to APPROVE the Minutes of the February 9, 2004 regular meeting as written, and Commissioner Spencer SECONDED the MOTION.
Per Chair Miller, the Minutes stand APPROVED AS WRITTEN.
Community Services Manager Grace Carroll Miranda provided Commissioners with a photo of the very first wedding at Hillcrest Terrace in August last year. Manager Miranda stated that a change in the alcohol policy is recommended to allow alcohol service at the Terrace and Recreation Building. Input from bridal parties inquiring about using the Terrace is that they would like to have champagne toasts and serve beer and wine. Proper procedures, such as licenses, permits, and time limits, will be put in place, and those serving alcohol at the Terrace and Recreation Center will pay extra fees and deposits for this option. Parties will be required to pay for at least one security officer to be present.
Commissioners asked for details on the security officer, rental fees and hours, and previous weddings. They also asked how the Terrace is being advertised and if the rates are competitive. Staff were also asked what is done if it rains during an event. Commissioners also commented on the beauty of the Terrace as a wedding location and recommended renting a booth at a bridal show to access serious customers. Concern was expressed regarding liability in serving alcohol to minors.
Manager Miranda responded that a security officer costs $18 per hour and the rental fee for the terrace, which is in two hour increments, is $275 for residents. Regarding the number of weddings at the Terrace, she said there have been the one August wedding and reception, two other weddings, and recent reservations for three or four other weddings and receptions. Because there have been requests to use the Terrace for more casual events such as birthday parties, staff is reviewing a two-tiered fee schedule. Manager Miranda described the Department's advertising efforts including information in its Newsletter, an ad in the Tribune, and the City's website, and that she is looking into advertising in the Chamber of Commerce's new magazine. She also said that the Department's rates are competitive. Regarding rain, Commissioners were told that the Recreation Building will be made available to the wedding party, if needed. Manager Miranda said that the City's alcohol liability was addressed by the use of a security guard from a City-recommended list, the fact that the caterer could jeopardize his/her license if serving to minors or inebriated guests, and a "hold harmless" clause in each contract.
Commissioner Dalton MOTIONED to accept the staff recommendation and Commissioner Spencer SECONDED the MOTION.
AYES: Dalton, Han, Miller, Quirk, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
The MOTION carried unanimously.
Park Projects Manager Randy McDaniel made a visual presentation, providing a map of Bastanchury Park, located at Bastanchury and Malvern, which is about 9 acres in size. He also provided a site plan, focusing on the soccer field and ball fields A and B, noting that it is a "full-service park" with concession stands, tot lot, basketball court, and plenty of parking as well as the greenbelt and recreational trail that ultimately connects up to the other trails through the Trail Master Plan .
Manager McDaniel explained that Field A would be upgraded with built-in bleachers, shade canopy and pitchers' warm-up areas although both would be nice quality fields. He stated that the conceptual plan was approved by the Sports Field Users, Community Services Commission and the City Council with brick dust infields rather than the grass infields that baseball users prefer. Staff recommended brick dust infields because they allow more flexibility with the changing sizes of baseball diamonds, while grass has higher maintenance costs with irrigation, installation and maintenance of sod. These extra costs were estimated at $8,000 for each field.
Manager McDaniel noted that the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, and Irvine have and prefer brick dust fields as do some leagues because of the flexibility of use. He then opened up the item to discussion, adding that members of the Sports Field Users Committee had been invited to the Commission meeting to ask questions and provide input.
There were concerns as to how field designation was determined for both the Sports Complex and Bastanchury Park, and if the number and type of fields are in proportion to the numbers of softball, baseball and Little League players. A request was also made to review the field designation and allocation system again to ensure that the decisions made are the ones that everyone wants. Commissioners were pleased that input was being sought now to avoid the need for last minute changes.
Commissioners also asked whether the fields would be lit, and if softball teams are able to play on grass infields even if they prefer dirt infields. It was also noted that cities such as Brea and Placentia do not have all multipurpose fields for baseball.
There was a question regarding sufficient parking at the fields when there are games, if the fence height would be adequate to prevent foul balls from going into the tot lot, and the type of bleachers to be installed. More information regarding maintenance costs for a turf infield was also requested with a question about where the additional maintenance staffing would come from and how it would affect maintenance at other parks.
Commissioners felt that a decision on field designation could be made only after they had more data on what types and how many fields and players there are, and that not only field users, but other groups such as nearby homeowners, should be considered. It was also pointed out that future changes in need should be considered, and that later changes with single-use fields would be costly in comparison to multipurpose fields which would not require changes. A suggestion was made to have one field multi-use and one grass infield at Bastanchury Park.
Park Projects Manager Randy McDaniel explained that the Community Services Department's purpose is not to make a determination of what was done in the past nor what should be done now, but rather to provide a forum for discussion to resolve the issue of field designation and to provide the community with what it needs. However, as noted in the agenda letter, there was an agreement that if the Sports Complex had two grass infields, then Bastanchury Park would have two multi-purpose fields.
Director Hunt noted that there were many meetings over a period of five to six years with representation from field users to plan the Sports Complex. As time passed, opinions of field users changed, necessitating adjustments. Even after a final determination for Bastanchury Park, adjustments will still need to be made as the Department moves into the field permit season. It was further noted that if a consensus can be reached on the Commission level regarding field designation, the decision could be included in the park plan with just a briefing for the City Council. If not, the issue will be forwarded to the Council for its decision. When asked, she said the fields will be lit.
Manager McDaniel also explained the 100-space formula utilized to determine the needed parking spaces, excluding special events which may bring more cars. Other parking at a commercial area to the north and Amerige Heights Community Center will also be available. Fences will be as high as those now at the Sports Complex and will keep foul balls from going into the tot lot. Bleachers will be standard Steelcraft.
Dan Sereno, Landscape Superintendent, provided Commissioners with an overall description of the extra cost ($16,000) and extra work for two grass fields versus a brick dust infield. He considered the extra cost substantial due to a recent 10% cut in staffing, but stated that the Maintenance Department would maintain the fields properly regardless of the decision made. He acknowledged that he would need to work with his director to reduce staff time from other parks.
Director Hunt noted that field counts are difficult as there are many variables involved including whether they are brick dust, turf, practice fields or game fields, which leagues are within the boundaries, and which teams will actually play on the fields. In answer to concerns regarding prior decisions made during the Sports Complex planning which affect Bastanchury Park's field designations, Director Hunt responded that memories and opinions can change over time and the reason for the Commission meeting is to determine what is best for the youth given all the factors and competing interests involved. She stated that staff is prepared to go either way in the decision to have the fields multi-purpose or not and want to do what makes the most sense. She added that the existence or lack of needed facilities may also determine how much a league grows.
Marion Jenkins, 1419 W. Fern Dr. With four children who went through sports in Fullerton, Ms. Jenkins was not opposed to youth sports, but she was concerned about the lighting in fields, which she thought would probably shine right into houses. She thought the lights might impact Fern, Adlena, Valencia Mesa and other streets. She wanted to know if it is possible to limit the hours lights are on, or design lights so they don't impact the area so much as they do at the Sports Complex.
Mike Downing, President of Golden Hill Little League, 221 Altura Drive, stated that he has been part of the Sports Field Users Committee for five plus years, but that they had never discussed allocation of the fields and had never voted on anything. However, his understanding was that there would be a 50/50 split in the field designation. He thanked the Commission for tonight's forum which would reduce mistakes and costs. He felt that, given the numbers in baseball versus softball, there were too many fields, especially lighted fields, already allocated for softball use with both fields at the new park apparently also planned for softball.
Commissioners asked Mr. Downing whether lighted fields were needed as much for young children. He responded that lighted fields were needed because four- and five-year olds play at 6:00 p.m. due to the lack of fields. Another commissioner noted that when the ball season starts, lights are needed at 5:00. Mr. Downing noted that installing lights would allow twice as many games to be played on a field.
Gary Ficociello, Golden Hill Little League member for 8 years and 11-year Fullerton resident, said he took care of ball fields for 5 years and understands the upkeep of fields and costs. He believes the estimate of $8,000 in extra costs per grass infield is excessive and suggested alternative ways to make the fields more flexible. He also stated that the City could obtain substantial revenue by hosting tournaments at facilities with grass infields but could not quantify the amount when asked.
Tony Piraino, 3807 San Pablo Drive, 16 year Fullerton resident, coached East Fullerton and Golden Hill Little Leagues. He discussed safety issues in playing on brick dust infields and with portable pitching mounds, saying baseball players get hurt more often. He also expressed his puzzlement at why the new pitching mound installed for a tournament and paid for by the League was removed and a portable mound put in its place. It was explained that the mound was initially designated as temporary, but then later, many thought it would become permanent. Community Services and Maintenance staff were unaware of the change because no one had reported this to them.
Bob Mellano, 3701 N. Tunales Drive, 20 year Fullerton resident, Phillies coach with Golden Hill Little League, coached youth sports over 8 years and college sports 10 years and has two boys and two girls who have played baseball and softball. He spoke about the safety issues with brick dust infields related to hard-hit baseballs and the smaller portable mounds that pitchers are more apt to slip off.
Jay Parra, West Fullerton Bobby Sox, coached 13 years of softball and baseball, and stated that there are 300 more girls playing softball in addition to the 470 mentioned earlier because his league didn't get its count in. He didn't believe dirt fields were a problem for baseball and believed there were safety issues for both softball and baseball, noting that grass infields would eliminate softball play completely on those fields. He answered commissioner questions, saying his team plays at Valencia Park on up to three lit fields, seven days per week.
Jacqui Bellender, 150 Marian Road, President of Fullerton Hills Softball, noted that the 1300 baseball players mentioned earlier include Pony Baseball which has its own lit fields to play on; hence, there may be only about half the perceived need for lit baseball fields. She reported that Fullerton Hills Softball has 38 teams and 470 girls and is growing about 20% each year but lost some to travel ball because of a lack of travel ball in Fullerton. While its current fields are sufficient, she said the league would like multi-purpose fields to host tournaments and earn income as they did in prior years, but they have outgrown their fields. She agreed with the commissioner comment that the planned improvements at Lions Field will not provide more fields and that all the fields are lit as long as the lights are working.
Eddie Bargas, 2417 W. Ash Ave., Fullerton resident for 30 years, board member of West Fullerton Little League, has been involved with youth soccer, football, and baseball with three sons in Little League. He expressed a need for more ball fields because the fields are too small and have no lights, and his league has to also deal with the sometimes conflicting needs of Nicolas Junior High. He said that other sports such as soccer or travel ball are playing there, too, making it difficult to finish games sometimes. He requested a grass infield and a permanent mound, and stated that his son's new travel ball team often doesn't have a place to play.
Commissioners felt that more data and communications between the parties was needed to make a fair decision on field designation, and that all points of view should be considered including the homeowners'. It was also noted that City and Community Services budget cuts should be kept in mind, too. The Commission established a Bastanchury Park Field Use Subcommittee with Commissioners Dalton, Russell, and Swanson, a representative from each baseball and softball league, and City staff. It was agreed that the subcommittee would meet with the goal of making a decision on the designation of the fields at Bastanchury Park, and make a report to the Commission at its next meeting. A question was asked about tournaments as an income generator.
Director Hunt agreed to make the arrangements for the Field Use Subcommittee meeting and ensure that the necessary data was available on fields, schedules, and players. She also responded regarding tournaments, stating that tournaments will not provide additional funds to the City unless the fee schedule is restructured, and that tournaments can create problems with nearby homeowners such as at the opening of the Sports Complex. As for travel teams, she said they do not have priority because the participating players do not meet the 80% City resident criteria. Director Hunt also mentioned the Good Neighbor Policy which will address and ameliorate problems with lighting, noise, play and traffic at the park.
Eddie Burciaga, Garnet Community Center Coordinator, made a visual presentation, recognizing Solidarity, a faith-based, non-profit group which provides volunteers to assist the local community. Solidarity assists with the after school program, tutoring, computer training, special events, and activities, and recently painted the interior of the Center. He introduced and acknowledged the Solidarity leadership and volunteer staff to the Commissioners. Coordinator Burciaga's presentation showed that Solidarity assists 70 youth per week, and assisted 2500 youth since January 2003. They have provided 1500 hours of volunteer work since that time through 18 active weekly volunteers.
Commissioners commended Solidarity volunteers and expressed appreciation for their work in the City. Solidarity staff answered questions and also thanked Coordinator Burciaga and the Community Services Department for the space and supplies provided. Coordinator Burciaga agreed to send invitations to Commissioners for Garnet Center's next event.
Landscape Superintendent Sereno presented the monthly report and an invitation to Arbor Day on Saturday, March 13th at Hillcrest Park. When asked why graffiti removal is no longer done by volunteers, Director Hunt responded that there was CDBG funding to support a supervisor of volunteers, but when funding was eliminated and the graffiti problem was reduced, volunteers were eliminated.
Superintendent Sereno, in reading the prior meeting minutes regarding the Arbor Day tree planting, noted that about nine of the trees to be planted will be 24" box and ten will be 15-gallon trees, the 24" box being used due to the lack of availability of more 15-gallon trees. However, staff will be present with tools to assist volunteers with the larger trees. He also answered the Commissioner question regarding the speaker at last month's meeting who claimed to have better prices for trees than the City, explaining that the speaker had prices for only the price of the tree which did not include delivery and planting, and that the City's contractor "beat" all the other prices.
The Building and Facilities Division Maintenance Report for March 2004 was received and filed.
Director Hunt clarified that City Council approval for an agreement in the amount of $99,900 for Independence Park restroom, locker and shower improvements was for plans and specifications, not for the actual construction.
Regarding a question on the Laguna Lake restoration bids, Director Hunt stated that the item went to Council after the March Commission agenda was prepared, and that the bids were too high. Thus, they are throwing out the bids, working with Engineering to make adjustments to the project and put it out to bid again, and expect the project to then move forward.
Director Hunt was also asked about the Independence Pool Park and the letter to the Fullerton Tribune regarding the reduction of pool hours for adult residents. She responded that City Council had a closed session regarding the Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team contract to provide direction to Community Services staff, but she was not at liberty to speak about it yet. She added that upcoming budget sessions regarding state and local budget cuts, 10% so far, will also impact pool hours.
Commissioner Dalton noted that she would be unable to attend the Commission meeting in April.
Commissioner Dalton MOTIONED to ADJOURN the meeting and Commissioner Spencer SECONDED the motion. Chair Miller ADJOURNED the meeting at 8:40 p.m.