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Parks and Recreation Commission Minutes May 9, 2005

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
MEETING MINUTES
City Council Chamber
Monday, May 9, 2005, 2005
6:30 p.m.

CALL TO ORDER:

Chair Swanson called the meeting to order at 6:31 p.m.

FLAG SALUTE:

Commissioner Dalton led the flag salute.

ROLL CALL:

Present :

Kathleen Baier-Dalton, Virginia Han, Pamela Keller, George Miller, Craig Russell, Nancy Spencer, Neil Swanson

Absent :

None

Staff :

Community Services Director Ron Molendyk; Community Services Managers Grace Carroll-Miranda, Joe Felz, Alice Loya, Randy McDaniel, Judy Peterson, and Pat Trotter; Cultural Events Specialist Dannielle Mauk; Administrative Services Director Glenn Steinbrink, Landscape Superintendent Dan Sereno

PUBLIC COMMENTS

None.

ACTION ITEMS (Items 1 - 6)

*1. MINUTES OF THE APRIL 11, 2005 REGULAR MEETING

Commissioner Miller MADE A MOTION to approve the Minutes of the April 11, 2005 regular meeting as written. Commissioner Spencer SECONDED THE MOTION.

Per Chair Swanson, the minutes stand APPROVED AS WRITTEN.

As Landscape Superintendent Dan Sereno was leaving the City of Fullerton for a new position with the City of Newport Beach, Director Molendyk presented him with a desk plaque from the Community Services Department. Superintendent Sereno greeted the Commissioners and City staff, and thanked everyone.

Superintendent Sereno said it was "an honor and privilege" to serve in the City of Fullerton, and that his last day at the City is this Friday. He said he will begin as a Parks and Trees Superintendent at Newport Beach on the following Monday. He also acknowledged and thanked his staff, Commission, City Council, departments, and the public, saying that the Community Services and Maintenance departments had worked on quality of life issues, and kept a high standard in the City. He also summarized the accomplishments of his division. He thanked the City again for the opportunities it gave him, for paying for most of his education and providing him with leadership opportunities. He also wanted to especially thank Nancy Spencer who was the first person to call him when he started with the City seven years ago.

Commissioner Spencer thanked Superintendent Sereno "especially", saying she had met with or called him just about every week since he started, what a "marvelous" job he had done, and expressing amazement at the work he was able to do.

*2. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FULLERTON HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD) GRANT

Director Molendyk introduced the California State University, Fullerton HUD grant which, if funded, would expand economic and educational opportunities for the Richman Park area. He then introduced Dr. Don Castro from Cal State Fullerton, noting that he works directly out of the President's office, and that he would be providing an overview to the Commission regarding how the monies would be spent and what services would be provided. If the Commission approves of the grant application, Director Molendyk asked that it recommend that City Council endorse the grant.

Commissioner Keller was excused from the room due to a potential conflict of interest.

Dr. Castro thanked the Commission for allowing him to come, saying the grant was a special category grant from HUD that works directly with Hispanic-serving institutions defined as those academic institutions where more than 25% of their undergraduates are Latino. He said Cal State Fullerton is the only four-year Hispanic-serving institution in Orange County. There are two two-year Hispanic-serving institutions in Orange County: Fullerton College and Santa Ana College.

Dr. Castro described the collaboration between CSUF, Fullerton College, St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton Community Services, the Fullerton School District, the Valencia Task Force, and a faith-based organization. He said this type of collaboration was what HUD was "actively seeking" and noted that while the funding wasn't guaranteed, the University had been encouraged by HUD to apply.

The Richman Park neighborhood was chosen, Dr. Castro said, because it was a well-defined neighborhood in terms of need, and because it had a community service facility. He said the grant is unique because it provides funding for both "bricks and mortar as well as services", and is available only to Hispanic-serving institutions. Other requirements of the grant were development of pride in neighborhood, development of a sense of financial responsibility, and expanded savings leading to home ownership in a Latino community, all elements which were included in the CSUF application.

Dr. Castro said the Valencia Community Center was a component of the grant because of its track record in the community as was the Valencia Task Force, a community-based group that had completed a needs survey which was included in the grant. St. Jude's participation and long-standing collaboration with CSUF was also noted. He pointed out that the City's investment of $7.5 million in housing rehab and infrastructure in the area also spoke to the needs in the area. CSUF and Fullerton College's academic programs would bring students, faculty and services to the Richman Park community, but would also expand to West Fullerton, working with the Orangethorpe Methodist Church.

Dr. Castro said the partnership with the City would expand current programs and expand the Valencia Community Center which would allow the proposed program to reach more residents in the area, although the program was not designed to serve the entire City, just the Richman Park neighborhood. He also said the partnership with St. Jude would provide career development for students in health services and opportunities to work at St. Jude's clinic. Dr. Castro said he serves as CSUF's representative on the Fullerton Collaborative board for oversight and project management which will be CSUF's responsibility.

Dr. Castro provided a drawing of the proposed floor plan, saying they will add 24 ft. to the back of the Valencia Community Center, which will become a 60' x 60' building, and when done, it will not look like an add-on. He said they also discussed an encroachment on school property of 14 feet with the Fullerton School District on May 4th, and was encouraged by the superintendent to go forward with the project.

The limitations of the current facility were described, with Dr. Castro noting the two additional rooms to be added including a computer lab built and supplied by CSUF. He said that with colleges going to on-line college applications, the grant would help educate parents on computer literacy, about helping their children stay in school and prepare for college, and how to apply for college and financial aid. He said there would also be additional storage and some modification of existing space.

Dr. Castro said the grant would also add programs through service learning, internships, and a full-time Americorps director with ten Americorps students, allowing them to extend the hours of the Valencia Center to 10 p.m. and Saturdays. He said the school district was "enthusiastic" about the after school programs which would help reduce dropout rates at Nicolas Junior High and Fullerton High School. Besides addressing a serious drop out problem at the Fullerton School District and the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, the proposed programs would also serve as gang abatement.

Besides after school programs, there would be civic education tied to an ESL training program to become citizens and bilingual, college and career preparation for high school students, vocational training for both students and parents, and "Credit Smart", a corollary grant with Fannie Mae which targets the Latino population about finances, credit, and banking. Dr. Castro reiterated the family services, career and health care services and parent technology programs which would be part of the grant.

Dr Castro described the budget, saying the grant will fund an estimated $211,000 in construction and equipment which will be a gift to the City. The City will also see savings of $186,800 in salary costs in the first three years, and the Valencia Center Coordinator will be provided an opportunity to receive a B.A. degree in Child Development through Fullerton College and CSUF.

Dr. Castro noted that there was also a strong likelihood of extending the grant another three years which would provide an additional $186,000 savings to the City. He also said that the grant was "an excellent opportunity" to expand its involvement in the well-being of the community - one of the main reasons why he was encouraged to represent CSUF at the Fullerton Collaborative - and to help students receive experience in their areas of study as well as serve the community. He said this would be a "win-win" for all the partners, thanked the commissioners for the opportunity to speak, and then opened the meeting up to questions.

Director Molendyk asked Dr. Castro to describe the proposed facility addition on the Richman park aerial view, who then noted that the new facility would be at the back of the existing community center, not extending into the park, and would utilize 10 ft. of City property and 14 ft. of school property. Director Molendyk added that, knowing the sensitivity of building in the park, CSUF changed its original building plan which would have extended into the park, to the back of the center, and obtained the school district's approval for encroachment because the project was educational in nature.

Commissioner Russell asked why Commissioner Keller had to leave the room since the Commission was only asked to make a recommendation to City Council, and Director Molendyk said the City Attorney advised this because she's employed by the Fullerton Collaborative, a partner in the proposal. He further noted that the City was originally asked to provide $48,000 in funding per the staff report, however, Dr. Castro had called today and said that no City capital funds would be utilized, and that they would assume responsibility for design, engineering and construction. Dr. Castro added that CSUF would also take out an insurance policy.

Commissioner Miller asked why the budget page listed City share as $103,277, and was told by Dr. Castro that that was the existing salary for City-employed center coordinator, Rosemary Castro. However, with the grant, two-thirds of the City staff's salary will be picked up by CSUF.

Commissioner Swanson asked if Dr. Castro had been referring earlier to working with the planned St. Jude medical clinic at Richman Park, and Dr. Castro said "yes". Commissioner Swanson said he didn't mean to be accusatory but was concerned that the St. Jude clinic had just been approved, with the CSUF grant approval request coming right afterwards. He also wondered how long the proposal was in the works, and Dr. Castro said it had been in the works for two years, and was considered at two other sites. Commissioner Russell asked if he had worked with the City in coming up with the site, and Dr. Castro said he had worked with the Fullerton Collaborative. Director Molendyk noted that the City Manager wrote a letter of support for this grant last year when it was proposed at Orangethorpe Methodist Church. Dr. Castro said that HUD had serious concerns about the project being at a church site, and CSUF was encouraged to choose a different site.

Commissioner Russell said his next comments were not meant to be against the project or Dr. Castro, but rather directed to staff. He asked why this information wasn't brought up when the previous Richman Park project was considered. Director Molendyk said they sent a copy of a letter to the Commission from CSUF regarding the project, and recently, since CSUF wanted to go forward with the project, staff requested that Dr. Castro come to the Commission meeting. He acknowledged that the notice was short, but because the grant application was due June 13th, the Council would have to consider it at its June 7th meeting. Commissioner Russell said that when the Commission did its tour of Richman Park, they weren't told the Community Center would be expanded by 24 feet, to which Director Molendyk said he didn't know that then either. Commissioner Russell said this got back to the issue of Commission being given very short notice to vote on projects, "just on the heels of the St. Jude Clinic", with St. Jude involved again. He said it "sounds like a wonderful program but I'm just big on park space" and that it would have been nice to have considered this when deciding on St. Jude.

Director Molendyk asked Community Services Manager Pat Trotter who had been working with the Collaborative, if she could provide any more information. Manager Trotter said although CSUF thought it might be applying for the grant, the Request for Proposal didn't come out until two months ago, so they didn't know until then whether there would be funding from HUD. But as soon as CSUF knew it was possible, they moved forward and brought it to Commission. Commissioner Russell said he was still concerned about not being notified about a possible project in the works, even if they didn't know for sure if the grant would be available.

Commissioner Russell also said the Commission was told there would be a fence separating the school from the park, but now a project is proposed that would go four feet into school property. Dr. Castro replied that the fence would be built behind the building and that it had been discussed with the school district. Commissioner Russell reiterated Dr. Castro's comment that the addition would be a "gift to the City", but said he thought Lemon Park, with a plot of land already earmarked for expansion, would be better.

Manager Trotter said CSUF saw the demographics of the Richman Park area, knew St. Jude would be there, believed Richman was more centrally located, that the Valencia Center provided more services to the overall community, not just seniors, and that there was more need for services and programming space there.

Commissioner Russell had concerns about the project's night time activities since parks were supposed to be closed at sundown, asking why the City is allowing a park to remain open until 10 p.m. Manager Trotter noted Amerige Park has a senior center open until 10 or 11 p.m. with activities in the building, not in the park. She added that the evening hours were when the adult population and high school and college students would be able to use the proposed computers. Commissioner Russell said he understood Amerige Park, but that Richman Park is a small community park surrounded by homes, and that he was concerned that the project would attract people who would hang around at night. Manager Trotter said it would be members of that community who would be at the Center taking part in the program. Dr. Castro noted that the orientation of the program was primarily for working, community adults whereas a center closing at 5 p.m. wouldn't work. The activity would be inside, not directed in the park.

Commissioner Spencer asked if programs would be mostly at night, but Dr. Castro said "no", that they would be all day including a preschool, and elementary, middle, and high school afterschool programs, and college prep and adult ed programs. Commissioner Miller agreed with Commissioner Russell that the commissioners should have been provided information during the St. Jude project. He said he was concerned about the area at night and the type of lighting and security provided. Director Molendyk said lighting, including security lighting, would be improved through the planned park improvements.

Commissioner Russell asked what the time frame was for the modular building to be built, and Dr. Castro said approximately six months although the funding would not be available until the first of October. Commissioner Russell said the updated lighting would not be available for another two or three years, and asked how they were going to deal with the Center being open until 10 p.m. sometime next year. Manager McDaniel said the current Center is used in the evening hours, and that the lighting was modified when the facility was built, plus more lighting would be added during the renovation. He acknowledged that the lighting was not what they would like, thus, they would be making additional modifications during the park improvements, for which a consultant has been contracted.

Director Molendyk said he wanted to clarify the details of the short time frame which staff also felt uncomfortable about. He said that Pat Trotter, Randy McDaniel and he met with Dr. Castro for the first time last Monday at 4:00 p.m., and that they told Dr. Castro that they needed more information and an overview or they would pull the item from the Commission agenda. He further explained that it was during this meeting that they first saw the information now in the Commission agenda packet, and that it was then pointed out by Manager McDaniel that there was no budget for design or engineering which was why an additional $48,000 was in the staff report. Also, unlike the previous project where Director Molendyk was told the project was already slated for Richman Park, staff was presenting this current request for the Commission's approval or non-approval to Council, which would also determine whether or not the City Manager would write a letter of support for the project.

Commissioner Swanson thanked Ron for his clarification, but said he was also concerned about encroachment on school property as there was no letter in the agenda packet from the school district indicating its approval or acknowledging how close it is to the soccer field. He also asked for more details on the needs identified by the Valencia Task Force and those that are being met, saying he had nothing against the project, but was concerned about another "eleventh hour" presentation. Saying he used to be very trusting, Commissioner Swanson said he was now "highly suspicious" of the timing between the St. Jude Clinic and the CSUF grant, and that there wouldn't be a park left at Richman. In order to make a recommendation, he said that the Commission would have to have more detail on how the Richman Park St. Jude project with parking structure would interface with the proposed CSUF project, including a timeline.

Commissioner Dalton asked for clarification on the parking structure mentioned, and was told it was the surface parking lot at Richman School. Commissioner Spencer asked if the real issue was the time constraint for the grant submission, asking what the deadline was. She added that, based on her experience counseling Hispanic high school students, she felt the program would be very valuable because she had heard about the students' difficulties thinking about higher education and completing school when their parents themselves have minimal education.

Director Molendyk noted that both Richman projects have come through the Fullerton Collaborative, and that perhaps the relationship between the Commission and the Collaborative should be improved through having Commission representation on the Collaborative board. Commissioner Swanson said that was "a wise recommendation", and that although it sounded like a great program, there were still concerns about the short time period in which to make a decision. Director Molendyk added that if the Commission felt the notice was too short to make a decision, CSUF could have just gone straight to Council to try to get approval; however, staff was asked to bring the item to Commission regardless of the short notice. Dr. Castro said he had a copy of the proposal and gave one to Director Molendyk.

Commissioner Han said while the project was excellent, she agreed with Commissioner Russell that they should have received more notice, and if they had, they would have been more excited about the proposal. She wondered why the Valencia Task Force members who were at the park tour didn't mention this also, and said that more parking space would be needed. Dr. Castro assured the Commission that there had been no collusion, that CSUF wasn't aware of the St. Jude project "until fairly well into the planning", and that the original CSUF proposal was based on mobile units of St. Jude's. He also agreed with Commissioner Dalton when she suggested that CSUF's current proposal was "a whole new proposal in terms of location", and that HUD didn't like the prior church location proposed, adding that HUD saw a potential conflict between church and community use of the property, and potential resistance from mainly Catholic residents going to a Protestant church. Commissioner Han thanked Dr. Castro for his clarification as she had thought the first proposal had been on Richman Park as well.

Although the item was on the agenda and there was little time due to the nature of grants, Director Molendyk said the Commission did not have to make a recommendation if it didn't feel comfortable. Commissioner Spencer said she felt "fairly positive towards the concept", but she understood the other commissioners concerns about over-building on the park. However, she liked the collaboration with CSUF, especially since the City doesn't collaborate with them on a lot of projects, and although the location might be a little problematic, she would vote for it because she "would hate to lose this."

Dr. Castro reiterated the funding problems where one approved grant had its funding cut and HUD didn't know if it was going to funded or not. He said part of the problem with the timing might have been the lack of planning on the part of the federal government in allocating long-term federal projects, that HUD's funding process was "up in the air until the very last minute," and that the RFP was delayed three months until funding assurances were received.

Commissioner Miller said various people including himself had stated that the Commission should have been notified earlier, and that they should move forward and make a motion.

Thus, Commissioner Miller MADE A MOTION to approve the Cal State Fullerton project at Richman Park. Commissioner Han SECONDED the project.

Chair Swanson called for discussion.

Commissioner Russell asked if CSUF could only get the grant if some type of construction were involved, and Dr. Castro said "yes". Commissioner Russell then asked if a different location could be used, and Dr. Castro said that the location had to be based on an analysis of community need, census tract, census reporting and data collection, and that they would have to do an extensive survey again. Commissioner Russell asked if Richman Park was the location the City recommended, and Dr. Castro replied that the City didn't recommend the location. Commissioner Russell said he was trying to figure out why the project was proposed at Richman rather than, for example, Fullerton College, school property, Lemon Park, or on the other side of the fence of Richman Park, and also asked why the City allows organizations to dictate where they will put their facility.

Director Molendyk reiterated that the necessary demographics point to the Richman Park area, even if some might consider the park too small. He said that the Commission has to decide if it's interested or not in grants due to the short lead time; however, he said federal grants don't allow for six months lead time. He also said that since the request came a week ago, and CSUF was told it would have to go to Commission, that was why it was now being considered. Director Molendyk said that perhaps the Commission would like to make a policy that a grant approval request must be received 90 days or 120 days prior to a Commission meeting. He noted that, unfortunately, there is only a small park in a target area, and that other groups may also become interested in the collaboration because of "the energy being created at Richman Park."

Commissioner Russell said he was concerned about the precedent being set, first with St. Jude, now with HUD, and that only a small community park is being considered. He asked if staff doesn't tell organizations that there are other possible sites with the same demographics such as Lemon Park, and asked why Commission is being told Lemon Park is outside of the same demographics. He mentioned the land behind the Maple Center that was already planned for expansion, and asked why City staff, knowing how the Commission would react, didn't help lead the discussion to a different area from Richman Park. He said his impression was that City staff said the addition to Valencia Community Center "was okay". Director Molendyk said he wanted to make the record clear that neither he or his staff ever said this, and that the issue came to the Department. He said he was not in a position to tell organizations where they could or couldn't go because some on the Commission didn't appear interested in providing services at Lemon or Richman Park as they were against using any open space at all.

Commissioner Russell again expressed concern that staff did not assist grant applicants in considering other sites, knowing that Richman Park was a sensitive site. Director Molendyk said that the three staff who met with Dr. Castro pointed out to him that he would get a negative reaction from some of the commissioners, and the types of questions he would encounter; Dr. Castro agreed with his account. Director Molendyk assured the Commission that staff is not lobbying for the project, which is why they had Dr. Castro make the presentation, and that the Commission should vote as it sees fit.

Commissioner Dalton said she was not generally in favor of putting buildings in open space although they agreed to do this with St. Jude because the project would be such an asset to the neighborhood. However, she did not have nearly as much difficulty accepting the CSUF proposal because she didn't view the expansion as encroaching on park space because the 10 feet behind the Valencia Center was not usable park space anyway and the project would be a real asset. She also noted that if the CSUF project were encroaching on usable park space, she would be very opposed to the project.

Commissioner Dalton said the demographics were "very, very different" in the Richman versus Lemon Park area although they were both primarily Hispanic, and that the need for community services at Richman was "much, much more than they would ever be in the Lemon area". Although she was against the concept of taking open space in an already small park, because the intrusion into the park was minimal, and the gains to the community, Commission Dalton said she had "no problem supporting it at all." She added that she totally understood about the time crunch of grants, and that one had to think on one's feet to take advantage of opportunities. Also, she noted that there was no guarantee that the project would be funded, and if funded, there would still be a lot of details to work out.

Commissioner Miller agreed with Commissioner Russell about stopping the infringement on Richman Park as well as other parks; however, the CSUF project was "worthwhile" and, having done interviews at the high school, he understood exactly what Dr. Castro was talking about, and felt that anything that would help in that aspect would be beneficial to the community. He also agreed with Commissioner Dalton that if the project were at the front rather than the back of the building, he would be opposed to it, too.

Chair Swanson called for the vote.
AYES: Spencer, Miller, Han, Dalton
NOES: Russell, Swanson
ABSTAINED: Keller

The MOTION CARRIED.

Chair Swanson wished Dr. Castro luck on the proposal, and Dr. Castro said he appreciated the concerns expressed and thanked the commissioners for their time. Chair Swanson acknowledged Dr. Castro's comments and added that Dr. Castro's project was just a product of bad timing.

Chair Miller asked about the orientation of the planned St. Jude Clinic at Richman Park on the aerial map, saying that he had thought the Commission had voted on the other orientation. Manager McDaniel replied that there were two directions for that location, however, the orientation shown was the one voted on. However, he said that the outline of the building did appear more elongated than it would actually appear.

Commissioner Keller returned to the dais.

*3. MAJOR LEAGUE SOFTBALL AGREEMENT

Director Molendyk introduced the Major League Softball (MLS) agreement which would need to be renewed, saying that the Commission was probably aware of the current contract with MLS which conducted an adult softball league, charged fees, maintained the fields it uses and was generally successful. He said the only change in the new agreement would be that instead of a fixed fee, the league would pay a percentage of revenues to factor in losses due to inclement weather and park construction. Director Molendyk also introduced Manager Judy Peterson, saying she could provide additional details.

Commissioner Swanson asked where the games are currently being played, and Manager Peterson said they were currently at Woodcrest and Lemon parks, however, after construction at Bastanchury Sports Park is finished, MLS would go completely back to Lemon Park.

Commissioner Dalton asked why the electrical costs are higher in summer when there is more daylight, rather than in winter. Manager Peterson said the actual rates charged per wattage used increase in the summer.

Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to approve the agreement as written. Commissioner Spencer SECONDED THE MOTION. Chair Swanson called for the vote.

AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
NOES: None
ABSTAINED: None

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

*4. DEPARTMENT NAME CHANGE

Director Molendyk noted that at a previous budget meeting, it was agreed by the Commissioners to change the Department name from Community Services to the Parks and Recreation to improve the name recognition and image of the Department, thereby making it easier to market and raise funds for the Department.

Commissioner Spencer said she remembered when the name was changed from Parks and Recreation to Community Services to incorporate human services and the cultural arts, but that, apparently, it wasn't very effective in identifying the functions of the Department. However, she wondered if "Parks and Rec" would have any affect on human services or the cultural arts. Ron agreed with Commissioner Spencer's summation, but said that people could identify much more readily with Parks and Recreation than Community Services. In addition, he said he asked Cultural and Special Events Division Manager Joe Felz if the "Parks and Rec" name would hurt his division's identify, but Manager Felz did not feel it would.

Commissioner Dalton asked if the name change would go to Council, and Director Molendyk said it wouldn't need to per the City Manager, and that it would just be part of the budget process; however, he said he would double-check that.

Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to approve the recommended change in the Department name from Community Services to Parks and Recreation, and Commissioner Spencer SECONDED THE MOTION. Chair Swanson called for the vote.

However, Commissioner Keller had concerns that the proposed Department name change didn't cover everything the Department did, asking if the name would cover everything that, for example, the Human Services Division does. A discussion followed, with Director Molendyk noting that there was more discussion at a previous Commission workshop, with several names being considered before this was decided upon. Commissioner Spencer said that one of the problems with "Community Services" is that it is sometimes confused with "Development Services", and Director Molendyk added that most of the major publications and associations are using the term "Parks and Recreation", and that "Parks and Rec" was easier to market.

Commissioner Dalton said that her initial problem with the term "Parks and Recreation" was that it didn't reflect the City's unusual and "amazing cultural resources" such as the Museum; however, since she wasn't at the prior meeting where this was discussed, she didn't want to "log jam" the issue. Commissioner Spencer asked what the current trends are and if cities are changing back to Parks and Recreation. Ron agreed, saying that the Department wanted more of an identity with Parks and Recreation, and to have a stronger role in managing parks, trails and open space. Manager Felz reiterated that because the Museum markets a lot under the Museum's name, they didn't see the name change as a problem.

AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
NOES: None
ABSTAINED: None


The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

*5. 2005-06 PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT OPERATING BUDGET

Director Molendyk introduced the Administrative Services Director, Glenn Steinbrink, saying that he would provide an overview of the City budget.

Director Steinbrink reported that at the City Council's last meeting, the Council referred the 2005-06 and 2006-07 budget to the various City committees and commissions for their comments. He said he was at the Commission meeting tonight to give an overview of the entire City budget so the Commission would better understand why the Parks and Recreation budget was going in the direction that it was.

First of all, Director Steinbrink said, the City's economy was "doing very, very well", revenues were increasing, and if not for a couple of factors, the City would be in really good financial shape. The factors were pension costs going up $3 million in 05-06, and the State taking away from the City $1.5 million in City property tax last year, and $1.5 mil. again in 05-06, for a total of $4.5 million that had to come out of the 05-06 budget. Director Steinbrink said he's been saying that 05-06 would be very bad, perhaps the City's worst year, however, it sounds like it's getting better although it will still be a tough year.

Over the past two to three years, including next year, Director Steinbrink said he has watched the General Operating Fund balance drop from over $11 million to about $7 million in 05-06. He said they are making up for the increased pensions and lost tax money by dipping into the reserves, and even told City Council two months ago that he thought they would also have to dip into the restricted reserves for about $0.5 million but now he believed they may not have to because some of the revenues are better than expected. Director Steinbrink noted that the financial problems were impacting all departments, not just Parks and Recreation, and they have asked all departments to cut back for three years now, and keep budgets status quo for 05-06 and 06-07. He said there are no increases in salaries or benefits for any departments for 05-06 or 06-07, noting that City employees have not gotten raises in the last two to three years although they are trying to find some money for salary increases for some employees as they are losing some good employees such as Superintendent Sereno. He then opened the meeting up to questions.

Commissioner Spencer stated that some employees have gotten pay raises in the last couple of years, and asked who they were. Director Steinbrink agreed, clarifying that he meant that no one had received raises negotiated in contracts in the last two years, however, police and fire got recent increases stipulated in a contract made four years ago. Commissioner Spencer asked which units' pension costs have gone up, and Director Steinbrink said police and fire's pensions primarily increased in 04-05, and that it was "very significant", probably $4 to $5 million. However, the increases in 05-06 are due mostly due to miscellaneous employees, not police and fire.

Director Molendyk thanked Director Steinbrink for his time. He then presented the Commission with the Department's balanced budget for 2005-06 and 2006-07, and noted that in the workshop prior to tonight's Commission meeting, Community Services staff had explained how they had been asked to be less dependent on the general fund and more entrepreneurial, and to "think outside the box" in order to generate more revenue for the Department, goals which were reflected in the fee schedule proposed in the next agenda item. He said staff would continue looking at efficiency in operations in the next year and continue the discussion of programs and fees throughout the year. He then recommended that the Commission approve the 2005-06 and 2006-07 budget.

Commissioner Spencer MADE A MOTION to approve the 2005-06 and 2006-07 Parks and Recreation Department operating budget. Commissioner Dalton SECONDED THE MOTION. Chair Swanson called for the vote. There was no discussion.

AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
NOES: None
ABSTAINED: None

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

*6. 2005-06 PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT POLICY STATEMENT AND FEE SCHEDULE

Director Molendyk reviewed the information discussed at the budget workshop earlier in the evening including going from seven categories of user groups to three, establishing resident and non-resident fee structures, pricing in different programs which resulted in the Commission deciding not to charge for Lemon Park spray pool and not providing senior discounts. Commissioner Han asked if the fee schedule was only for 05-06, and Director Molendyk said that the 05-06 fees are reflected in the budget and the brochure; however, they had also discussed fees for youth leagues, but that this issue would be brought back for discussion in 2006-07 with the Field Users Sub-Committee or the Commission as a whole.

Senior Analyst Alice Loya asked the Commission to do two things: 1.) recommend approval of the fee schedule provided with the changes either bolded or struck out, with the seven user groups, and 2.) to give staff direction to review the proposed changes including senior discounts, changing user groups from seven to three, applying new fees to the three user groups, and excluding the Lemon Park spray pool from recovery costs.

Commissioner Keller asked for clarification regarding the Commission's decision on senior discounts, and Director Molendyk and Analyst Loya agreed that no decision had been made, but that that was an item for discussion. Commissioner Russell confirmed that the Commission was not being asked to decide whether the groups should be reduced from seven to three; Analyst Loya added that they were asking the Commission to direct staff to review the reduction in user groups and to bring the issue back to the Commission. Commissioner Russell also confirmed that the change in user groups, charges to youth leagues and lights would not be in the 2005-06 fee schedule.

Commissioner Dalton asked for clarification about what the Commission was approving, saying she thought the Commission was voting on whether or not to reduce the user groups, and based on what they decided, staff would then decide how to apply the fees to the new user groups. Commissioner Spencer concurred with that understanding. Commissioner Swanson said he thought the Commission would look at proposing those changes, but for this year, they would approve the fees based on the current seven user groups. Commissioner Dalton asked what was changing and was told there are minor changes as noted in the bolds and strikeouts in the proposed 2005-06 fee schedule which staff was asking Commission to approve, and that Commission should also provide direction on whether or not the Department should reduce the user groups and to review the fees associated with them.

Director Molendyk reminded the Commission that they had also discussed whether to eliminate the differentiation between resident and non-resident fees, but that Commission felt residents should pay less than non-residents because residents pay more in City taxes.

Commissioner Swanson proposed looking first at the changes to the 2005-06 fee schedule including those highlighted or bolded, and asked if there were any major changes. Analyst Loya said there were no major changes other than Aquatics being eliminated.

Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to approve the adopted resolution implementing proposed changes to the 2005-06 fee schedule. Commissioner Russell SECONDED THE MOTION. There was no further discussion.

Chair Swanson called for the vote.

AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
NOES: None
ABSTAINED: None

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

Chair Swanson then introduced the second recommendation in the agenda item. Commission Dalton then MADE A MOTION to 1.) recommend staff to study fees and user groups, and consider reducing the number of groups, 2.) eliminate the senior discount, 3.) exclude the summer program and Lemon Park spray pool from cost recovery.

Chair Swanson asked for clarification on current discounts for seniors and was told that there are currently discounts for seniors, and that although staff recommended a 10% discount for seniors, Commission seemed to be leaning towards eliminating all discounts. Commissioner Miller SECONDED THE MOTION.

Chair Swanson asked for further discussion, and then recommended that the motion be broken down into smaller units that would be easier to vote on. Commissioner Dalton WITHDREW HER MOTION.

Commissioner Keller then MADE A MOTION to apply a senior discount of only 10% to those programs that currently have a senior discount for 06-07. Commissioner Han SECONDED THE MOTION. Chair Swanson noted that not many programs had senior discounts, and was told that only racquetball, swimming (now no longer under the City's fee schedule), and the Museum had discounts. Commissioner Russell asked if the vote would apply to 2005-06 or 2006-07, and was told it was the latter. He then asked why the Commission is voting on something that won't apply until the next year, and was told the Commission was voting on asking staff to look into these policies. However, Commissioner Russell pointed out that the motion was to apply a senior discount, not look at applying a senior discount. Analyst Loya said the Commission would be "voting on a philosophy" for staff to report to Council so that next year, when fees are reviewed, the policy on fees will be set. Commissioner Keller AMENDED HER MOTION to direct staff to review the idea of applying a senior discount of only 10% of the regular fee to those programs that currently have a senior discount for 06-07. Commissioner Han SECONDED THE AMENDED MOTION.

Commissioner Russell asked if staff would be taking this recommendation to Council next month or if it would come back to the Commission after staff analyzes it for a year. Analyst Loya said staff would take Commission's recommendation to Council, telling them that the Commission had directed staff to review the fees, and if Council agrees with Commission's recommendation, staff will look at the fees through the year and bring it back prior to next year's budget recommendations. Commissioner Russell asked why Commission has to ask Council to allow staff to look into something that the Commission might vote on and approve next year.

Director Molendyk said the present policy seems to be that public recreation is free; however, the Department is trying to shift gears with the Council, and just as the City Manager has directed staff, the Department would like to try to recover costs plus overhead, if possible. Thus, he said, it's a new policy that the Department is trying to charge for some of their public recreation programs, and all that they are asking is that if Council also recommends this new direction in policy, they'll implement the new policy and bring it back to Commission. If Council says "no", that they don't agree with Commission, staff will bring the issue back to Commission.

Commissioner Dalton said she had the same question as Commissioner Russell, in that if Council had directed staff to change policy, why staff would have to return to Council for its approval. Director Molendyk clarified that it was the City Manager who had provided the direction, but that the Department still had to get Council's approval. In addition, if Commission had additional changes they wanted, staff would bring those to Council, also.

Chair Swanson then summarized, saying that staff is asking Commission to recommend that the Department explore the policy change. Director Molendyk said that with the adoption of the budgets just concluded, the Commission would be making a recommendation on a policy change for how rentals are administered and fee structures.

Commissioner Miller said if the City is running a business, Commission should not be giving anything away, especially senior discounts since the goal is to increase revenue. Director Molendyk said two-sevenths of the Commission made this recommendation. Analyst Loya said the reason the proposed policy for senior discounts is 10% is because currently, there is no set policy on what the senior discount is, and in some cases, the discount is much greater than 10%, thus, they are trying to reduce the discount. Commissioner Miller said if no discount is provided at all, the Department will increase its revenues, one of the goals they are charged with tonight.

Director Molendyk agreed with Commissioner Dalton that if the commissioners think the senior discount should be eliminated completely, they should not vote for Commissioner Keller's motion. Commissioner Miller said that having the resident/non-resident designation really simplified things and that senior discounts weren't necessary; therefore, he would vote "no" on the motion. Commissioner Han said she would vote "yes". Director Molendyk said that since the Department has been asked to be more business-like, staff is also trying to establish a formula without interference from special interest groups that is predicated on recovering costs and what similar businesses are charging. There was then a discussion and agreement that commissioners could make any motion desired; however, a motion was already on the floor.

Commissioner Keller said there are still many seniors who are on fixed incomes and do need the discounts, and that's why there are discounts at places like Denny's and the movies, so this should be remembered when voting. Commissioner Miller asked if Commissioner Keller had statistics to back up her comments, and she asked Commissioner Miller if he had any to back his up. Commissioner Keller's revised motion was repeated for the benefit of the commissioners.

Commissioner Russell said he would encourage a "no" vote on this and any other related item because it was risky to vote for something that's a year away which would "become law" when Commission has already asked staff to look in this direction. Chair Swanson asked if Commission could recommend to staff to explore without going to Council, or if that wasn't possible because the City Manager had made the request. Commissioner Miller said staff asked for guidance, and he thought that was what Commission was doing. Director Molendyk replied that Commission was an advisory board to the Council, and since staff feels it is making a fairly drastic deviation in policy, they wanted to ensure that Council approved of the change in policy, too. Commissioner Russell said he wasn't so concerned about the senior discount, but didn't want to vote on such specifics as reducing user groups from seven to three. Director Molendyk responded that he understood what Commissioner Russell was trying to convey and that perhaps staff could just report to Council that the Commission had recommended that, as part of the budget process, staff review the fee schedule and return to Commission at the appropriate time.

Chair Swanson called for the vote on the motion on the floor.

AYES: Han, Keller
NOES: Dalton, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson

The MOTION FAILED.

Commissioner Dalton then MADE A MOTION to direct staff to study user groups, user group fees, senior discounts, summer playground programs and the Lemon Park Spray Pool over the next year for recommendations for applications for 06-07. Commissioner Russell SECONDED THE MOTION. There was no further discussion.

Chair Swanson called for the vote.

AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson NOES: None
ABSTAINED: None

THE MOTION CARRIED unanimously.

INFORMATION ITEMS (Items 7 - 10)

*7. LANDSCAPE DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR APRIL 2005

The Landscape Division Monthly Report for April 2005 was presented and filed. Landscape Superintendent Dan Sereno also noted Item #2 of the report, saying that the Landscape Division has begun aggressive weed abatement which was needed due to the heavy rains. He then asked for any questions or comments.

Commissioner Swanson asked if the City keeps track of the rain in Fullerton, and if any records were broken. Superintendent Sereno said the Water Division keeps track with rain gauges that had recorded over 30 inches of rain, and that records were broken. He said he wasn't sure what the exact amount of rain was, but could find out.

Commissioner Han asked about any reports of bee hives and in what areas these were. Superintendent Sereno said the service records showed one in a street tree, a private tree and also in water meters. He introduced Landscape Supervisor Dennis Quinlivan, described his duties including bees and ants, as well as trails, irrigation, large field mowing, and two contracts with West Coast Arborists and a median maintenance contract, saying he would also be Acting Superintendent after he leaves. Supervisor Quinlivan responded to Commissioner Han's question, saying that hives are in all areas of the City and that no areas were more susceptible than others.

8. DIRECTOR'S UPDATE

Director Molendyk noted an item regarding a Laguna Lake committee that was not on the printed agenda, and asked Manager McDaniel to provide the details. Manager McDaniel said the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy grant to renovate the trails around Laguna Lake is underway and had a kick-off meeting. However, he wanted to ensure that the Commission still wanted the same members on the advisory committee for Laguna Lake which consists of Fullerton Recreational Riders, North Fullerton Home Owners Association, Fish and Game Department, Fullerton Beautiful, City staff and two Commissioners, Nancy Spencer and George Miller, whose position was formerly held by Commissioner Russell. He added that Fullerton Heritage was not on the committee, but could be.

Commissioners Miller and Spencer both indicated a willingness and desire to remain on the Laguna Lake committee. Chair Swanson re-appointed commissioners Miller and Spencer to the Laguna Lake committee.

Director Molendyk told the commissioners that the Department was notified of a briefing session put on by the City Council for all commissioners and new committee members on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 with dinner at 6:00 and the meeting at 6:30. He said details were to follow, and asked the commissioners to calendar that meeting.

Due to commissioner vacations in August, Director Molendyk asked commissioners if they wanted to "go dark" in August and/or September. After a short discussion where commissioner concurred that they could cancel one or the other meeting, but not two meetings, the consensus was to cancel the August Commission meeting. Commissioner Dalton MADE A MOTION to cancel the August Commission meeting, and Commissioner Keller SECONDED THE MOTION. Chair Swanson called for the vote.

AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
NOES: None
ABSTAINED: None

The MOTION PASSED unanimously.

9. REPORT ON CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEMS

Director Molendyk briefly described recent Council actions on Community Services items:
  • Approved Amendment No. 1 to the Orangethorpe Christian Church Agreement allowing City access to Gilbert Park through church-owned property for security, maintenance and emergency vehicles in exchange for church use of the City parking lot.

  • Approved the Community Services' application to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the Independence Park Pool Facility Renovation.
10. COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Commissioner Han thanked Director Molendyk for the special Commission meetings he has set up as well as the memos and calendar of events which were helpful in keeping the commissioners up to date. She also asked if there was any additional news regarding the Pony League and Duane Winters field conflicts. Director Molendyk said most of the issues had been smoothed out although recent rains did create a scheduling problem, and that he and Manager Miranda are trying to improve procedures between their department and Maintenance so that the fields are not closed prematurely due to rain.

Commissioner Russell added his comments about Pony League's letter, saying he was more concerned about the City Manager's response to the letter because it appeared that the City didn't follow the established procedure. Instead, it allowed a sanctioned league to request and receive access to a field at the last minute whereas most leagues must apply for access up to one year in advance. He also said the Pony representative told him that they had to change their schedule due to the other league's field allocation, and that they weren't completely satisfied. He said the field users committee should look at the issue, and that he didn't like the approach that because the other league was being charged for field use, that it was okay. Commissioner Russell said he hoped it didn't happen again, and believed that organized youth leagues should have priority. Director Molendyk said, as a point of information, that a couple of issues had come up this year that could be resolved if the policy was followed, and that Manager Miranda would agendize the issue of an appeal committee, as set forth in the field use policy, to deal with such conflicts.

Commissioner Russell said it was time to get Commission representation on the Valencia Task Force and the Fullerton Collaborative since this was the second time projects have come from these groups that have surprised and impacted the Commission. He said he wasn't sure how to implement this, and given that Commissioner Keller was the head of the collaborative, there should be a different Commission representative. He requested that at the next meeting, the Commission is given information on how it can get representation on those two groups, just as City staff are represented. Director Molendyk said staff would research this, and that staff has also expressed concerns about its role in these groups.

Commissioner Keller said that as the Fullerton Collaborative Executive Director, she would welcome a commissioner to attend the meeting, that they welcome everyone, and that she also attends the Valencia Task Force meetings and wouldn't mind volunteering to be the Commission representative for that group and the Collaborative.

Commissioner Keller said that at the last meeting of the Valencia Task Force there was a question regarding restrooms at Independence Park, which aren't open during the weekend. Being a new commissioner, she said she would like to be educated about this issue, and that Director Molendyk had offered to provide information to her. She also invited commissioners to attend FACES of Fullerton per her invitation, saying it was free and that all ages were welcome.

Director Molendyk noted the California Parks and Recreation Society volunteer recognition during a recent banquet, saying it would be nice for the Department to do something similar. He also pointed out that Manager Pat Trotter was recently recognized at the CPRS banquet as a long-time mentor of a student now at Long Beach State.

Commissioner Han volunteered to be a Commission representative on the Valencia Task Force, Commissioner Russell said he brought up the issue and wanted to be on the Task Force, too, and Commissioner Dalton kiddingly said she was "demanding" that he be on the Task Force as well. Director Molendyk said staff could come back with a recommendation, and the Chair could appoint two people and an alternate.

Commissioner Dalton asked if, since the Department would now be known as the Parks and Recreation Department, the Commission would also be the Parks and Recreation Commission. Director Molendyk said that was correct, and that that change would be made. Copies of the summer edition of the newsletter were also made available.

The meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m.

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