PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
City Council Chamber
Monday, October 10, 2005
CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Swanson called the meeting to order at 6:31 p.m.
Commissioner Dalton led the flag salute.
| Present :
Kathleen Baier-Dalton, Virginia Han, Pamela Keller, George Miller, Craig Russell, Nancy Spencer, Neil Swanson
| Absent :
| Staff :
Parks and Recreation Director Ron Molendyk, Parks and Recreation Managers Dave Alkema, Grace Carroll-Miranda, Alice Loya, Dannielle Mauk, and Judy Peterson; Landscape Superintendent Dennis Quinlivan; Landscape Supervisor Phil Kisor; Risk Manager Gretchen Beatty, City Attorneys Harold Potter and Krista Jee
Director Molendyk explained the Closed Session to the audience, and invited audience members to take a break while the Commission was in Closed Session, saying that the Commission would review and approve the September 12, 2005 Commission Minutes thereafter.
There were no public comments on items not on the agenda.
RECESS to Closed Session.
1. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL - POTENTIAL LITIGATION - Per Government Code Section 54956.9
CLOSED SESSION REPORT - None
Commissioners returned to the dais at 7:00 p.m.
2. MINUTES OF THE SEPTEMBER 12, 2005 REGULAR MEETING
Commissioner Keller MADE A MOTION to approve the minutes as written and Commissioner Miller SECONDED THE MOTION.
Per Chair Swanson, the minutes of the September 12, 2005 Parks and Recreation Commission were approved as written.
REGULAR BUSINESS (Items 3 - 11)
3. KIWANIS CLUB LEASE AT 410 S. RICHMAN AVENUE
Director Molendyk introduced the Kiwanis lease renewal agenda letter, saying that he would provide an overview to the Parks and Recreation Commission of the Contracts Review Subcommittee's report. Thereafter, the two members of the subcommittee could add to or agree with the report. He said that Kevin McCarthy of Kiwanis and Larry Bennett of the Boy Scouts would then make their presentation. Then, the matter would return to the Commission for discussion.
Director Molendyk addressed the Commission and members of the audience, saying that Kiwanis has had a lease for the park property at Truslow and Richman for 25 years. He said that many members of the public and even staff members didn't realize the property was City property, and that Kiwanis leased the property for $1 per year. Groups that use the park include Boy Scout Troop 93, Boys and Girls Club who use the building in the front, and previously, the Girl Scouts who stopped using the property due to budget cuts from the Girl Scout Council, and not due to problems with the area or Kiwanis lease.
Director Molendyk then reported that staff had been working with the Kiwanis and the Boy Scouts on a plan to improve the open space at the Kiwanis property. Prior to his tenure, staff and Kiwanis members worked on a 2003 Kiwanis conceptual plan that had not been realized even though it was approved by the City in 2004. Director Molendyk said construction plans had not been submitted to the City until last week. He outlined the current lease, noting that the 25-year lease would have been automatically renewed at $1 per year if there weren't concerns with the lease.
Director Molendyk stated that the Parks and Recreation Commission formed a Contracts Review Subcommittee to review all Parks and Recreation Department long-term leases. He added that a lot of the long-term leases seem to be coming due now, and that City staff was talking to Kiwanis because Kiwanis was conscientious enough to remind staff that their lease was coming due. Director Molendyk noted that the Contracts Review Subcommittee members were commissioners Spencer and Miller, and that they had met on several occasions with City staff, and representatives from the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and Kiwanis. He listed the Subcommittee's concerns regarding the existing lease: Poor management of the facility, public use has been very limited although other groups have used it from time to time, Kiwanis membership has only 33 members, and, like many service groups is shrinking, with concern about how many of the 33 are really active. Subcommittee members wondered whether Kiwanis would really be in a position to manage the property.
Director Molendyk said annual finance reports and insurance coverage to confirm the Kiwanis' ability to finance capital improvements and ongoing maintenance costs were only submitted recently; before the City did not have these. The terms of the lease were also a concern for the City, and Director Molendyk said the City doesn't have enough authority to properly administer the lease. He said the City can't assure public use of the park and that there is only one individual who can speak on behalf of Kiwanis, the Boy Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club. He listed deficits in the property such as poorly maintained landscaping, playground equipment that does not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, lack of accessibility to and safety issues with the play equipment.
Another problem Director Molendyk pointed out was the lack of open space in that area of town, reminding commissioners about the Commission and Council's concern for the lack of open space south of Commonwealth where the Kiwanis park is located. He asked, rhetorically, if the City should take back the property, and stated that if the City took over management of the park, there was no intent, in contrast to some apparent rumors, to remove the tenants of the park, i.e., Boy Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club could continue using the facility. He said the Subcommittee felt that the City could better assist with maintenance, operations and improvements of the property, saying that the City collects park improvement funds (park dwelling fees) from new developments which could be used to make improvements at the Kiwanis park; however, the City would have to show that the fees are being used to benefit the public, not just one or two groups. He said the conclusion of the subcommittee was that the Kiwanis was in default of the existing lease, and that the lease should be terminated.
Through a slide presentation, Director Molendyk showed an aerial of the Kiwanis lot, with the buildings and open space, indicating that Building #1 is the Boys and Girls Club Building and #2 is known as the Girl Scout House. He noted that the until-recently non-functional restroom in the middle would be removed per the Kiwanis master plan to open up the space for play and placed towards the back towards the Scout House, serving the park and the Scout House. He then indicated Area #3, saying that was the storage lockers used by the Boy Scouts.
Director Molendyk showed slides of the buildings and drainage problems during the rainy season including "Lake Truslow," noting the safety issues and the fact that these flooding problems limit the play space for the user groups, and adding that this area would need to be regraded. He then pointed out the dirt areas during the dry season which were "like playing in a dust bowl," and said that in 2003, the grass was killed off per Kiwanis' request because they were planning to put turf in, but that didn't happen. He showed slides of what the subcommittee saw when they first visited the park including outdated play equipment, trash, soil bags stacked for several years, non-functional restroom building, soil dumped for planned grading that didn't happen, a backflow preventer for the irrigation system that wasn't working, more soil stored on site, storage bins that are detracting from park view but do provide needed storage (which the Girl Scouts are wondering if they would be allowed to also use if they return to the park), and a horse trailer containing camping gear.
Director Molendyk concluded his overview, and asked commissioners Spencer and Miller if they had comments. Commissioner Spencer said she didn't have much to add and that the report was "a thorough analysis of what we found," that she did find the facility in an "inadequate position," especially its appearance and the children's safety, and that the first time she went by the park, the children were playing in mud and water. She acknowledged that Kiwanis was a good organization, and that her son belonged to the Fullerton Kiwanis, but said it was very difficult for a service organization to come up with the kind of funds needed to improve and maintain the park, which a City would have. Commissioner Spencer said the park would probably still be called Kiwanis Park and the Kiwanis would still mentor the Boys and Girls Club and Boy Scouts, just the City would manage the park.
Commissioner Miller said that anyone listening to Director Molendyk's report could understand the Subcommittee's recommendation not to renew the lease. He said there were so many things to be done at the facility, adding that Commissioner Spencer said it very well, that they were discussing the management of the park, and not talking about an ego trip for Kiwanis or the City, just who can do it best for the community. He said a salient point is that the park is located in an area where parks are very much needed, and there is an opportunity to create a park. He stressed that nothing would change for the Boy Scouts or Boys and Girls Club, but that there were areas which could be "rejuvenated and be a nicer place for everyone." He added that Director Molendyk's report was very thorough.
Director Molendyk then invited the Kiwanis, Boy Scouts and Boys and Girls Club representative, Kevin McCarthy, to make his presentation and thereafter, Larry Bennett of the Boy Scouts to make his presentation. Kevin McCarthy thanked everyone for coming and for their support, and said he hoped to shed some light on Kiwanis' association with the park. He asked that they be judged with an open mind, and not just on one member, and said they would give the same courtesy to the Commission.
Mr. McCarthy provided a Power Point presentation, saying they've heard a lot of complaints about the Youth Park. They didn't like the grass at the Kiwanis park either and if the solution was as easy as putting in grass, it would have been done long ago. He said the barbed wire around the park was there before he came 25 years ago, doesn't know who put that up, and said it was consistent with other properties in that area. He said the fence was not there to keep people out, but to "provide a safe environment for the youth of Fullerton." He said the perception that the facility was only used on Tuesday nights by the Boy Scouts and Monday through Friday afternoons by the Boys and Girls Club was incorrect. He said the park was heavily used throughout the week, mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends, suggesting that it might be the most heavily-used park, per square foot, in the entire city.
Lastly, Mr. McCarthy said, the perception that the park had been deteriorating for years with little or no improvements was also false, saying many of the improvements aren't visible from the street. More importantly, he said if he could explain the impact of the programs provided at the park, the commissioners and audience would understand why the Kiwanis take such pride in the park. He then summarized and showed through slides recent improvements: Interior painting, installation of fans and lighting in Scout Hut (1999 & 2003), prestigious awards and memorabilia, the Scout Hut painted in 2003 inside and out, the Scout Hut kitchen refurbished in 2001, overhead storage there installed in 2001, doors to storage area of the patio installed 2002, painting and repair of men's restroom in center of park completed in 2003 (which, while rumored not to work, is in proper working order), fluorescent lighting in the patio in 2005 which allows for year-round and evening programming possibilities.
Mr. McCarthy said that when he met with the Subcommittee in June of 2005, he requested a list of concerns which brought about the Subcommittee's recommendation not to renew the lease; however, he said he was told no list would be provided. He said that on October 3, 2005, last week, City staff requested an on-site inspection of the building for October 4th. He said the inspection party consisted of six people from Parks and Recreation (Community Services), Maintenance, Building Inspection and Code Enforcement. He said a list of 16 maintenance items (listed on the slide show) was e-mailed October 6th, which Kiwanis promised they would address to the best of their ability prior to tonight's meeting. The slides showed that the list of improvements had been repaired. He said the maintenance items were completed in a four-day period of time, adding that the work was "first rate", cost nothing, and that the many volunteers who helped were to be commended.
Mr. McCarthy then spoke about the Kiwanis lease, noting that Kiwanis has been responsible for maintaining the property for 45 years, saying that the City provides basic landscaping. He reemphasized that the list was requested four months ago, that the list was "cosmetic," as he had stated at the first meeting, but that Kiwanis didn't get the list until last week. He said the list got taken care of because of volunteerism and because Kiwanis is non-profit and has the ability to do so. He said this proved that Kiwanis can take care of the park quickly without cost to the taxpayers, allowing City funding to go to other parks.
Besides management of the property, Mr. McCarthy said Kiwanis provides maintenance and upkeep on the buildings on the property, which was based on the partnership between Kiwanis and the community, and not due to public funding. He said the City cuts the grass, and trims the trees every three to five years.
Mr. McCarthy then provided an overview of the current usage of the park: He said the Kiwanis park is the home of Boy Scout Troop 93, one of largest and oldest troops in the Orange County Council, adding that three Boy Scout representatives would address the Commission later including Larry Bennett, on behalf of the parents of Troop 93, Mr. Pino, Scoutmaster on behalf of the Scouts, and Jim Cruse of the Los Amigos District, which Troop 93 falls under. He also introduced Fred Johnson, Executive Director of the Fullerton Boys and Girls Club, and Elvin Campbell, Richman Branch Director, and Boys and Girls Club Board President, Ron Jehnke and board member Ron Gillette, recently retired sergeant from the Police Department, who would be able to provide a "unique perspective" on the value of fencing around the park.
Mr. McCarthy then described the various scout groups that use the Kiwanis facility on a regular basis including Cub Scout Packs 1216 and 1248 with 150 boys for weekly meetings, Boy Scout Troop 93 with 130 boys for weekly Tuesday meetings and 30 weekends per year, and Los Amigos District weekend training with 400 adults per year and District management meetings.
Mr. McCarthy then provided an overview of the Boys and Girls Club of Fullerton, saying their programs serve 150 boys and girls in the school van pickup program with the Fullerton School District, 200 youth served during the school year in before- and after- school programs, 300 youth enrolled in summer programs with children arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. and staying as late as 6:00 p.m. He said the program is busier during the summer when child care is in high demand from working and single parents.
Mr. McCarthy then brought up the Girl Scout program, noting that one of the Kiwanis buildings is known as the Girl Scout Building due to the Fullerton Girl Scout's long association with the Kiwanis. He said the Girl Scouts were at the park until July 2004, and that they were happy to have them there. He said the Girl Scouts' exit wasn't because the Kiwanis "kicked out" the Girl Scouts, as rumored, or safety issues per one local newspaper. He said the park has "an excellent safety record and hasn't had a police call in years." Rather, it was a property review of all its facilities by the Orange County Council which resulted in the consolidation from six facilities to three, and one of the "abandoned" facilities was the building at the Kiwanis park.
He said Kiwanis has met with the Girl Scouts twice and that they have been assured that the proposal for use of the facility would be welcomed. However, Mr. McCarthy said the Girl Scout Council does not want exclusive use of the facility, won't sign a lease and won't issue certificates of insurance for exclusive use. He said the Girl Scouts will allow Girl Scout groups to use the building for "occasional meetings," which he said Kiwanis would welcome back for that purpose. He said the local Girl Scout group was invited to attend the monthly board meetings, submit an application for review but they have not yet been approached. He said Kiwanis would "encourage and welcome" the Girl Scouts back to the park as soon as possible.
Mr. McCarthy then mentioned the article he wrote for the Observer, saying that he mentioned his great pride in being a Kiwanian in this community for 22 years, has been President three times, and noted the many Kiwanians whose names are on parks and facilities. However, he said they are most proud of 33 members' youth sponsorships including four high school Key clubs, two college Circle K Clubs, Troop 93, community outreach to at-risk youth, the new Project Claire in conjunction with St. Jude's, Boys and Girl's Club, YMCA and YWCA. He reiterated that although there are only 33 members, they can do a lot and make a difference, and that even one, two or three people can make a difference.
He said Kiwanis has donated, in its 45 year involvement, over $250,000 in capital improvement and operating expenses, plus anonymous individual donations "not recorded in our budget sheets." He thanked the Commission for its time and consideration, saying he hoped they could come to some kind of resolution tonight that would benefit the youth. He also noted the presence of the past Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis, Keith Ricky, and current Lieutenant Governor, Harlan Comlee were here to show support from more than a local level. He said because of all the support and non-profit standing, Kiwanis had funding abilities "far beyond what the City can do" in terms of approaching those providing grants and donations, saying money was the least of their concerns. He again thanked the Commission and those who attended the meeting, then turned the meeting over to Larry Bennett.
Larry Bennett, Scout Leader, thanked the Commission for the opportunity to speak. He said he spoke on behalf of Troop 93 parents but also as a long-time Fullerton resident, City Commission/Committee Applicant Review Board Chairman, and Rotarian. He acknowledged that if he was in the Commission's shoes and had read the staff reports from July, he would also vote to kick out the Kiwanis, but he said that his history of the project pre-dates the July time frame, so that his perception of the proper course of action is significantly different. He said that as a Rotarian, when City staff and Commissioner Miller suggested the Rotary Club replace Kiwanis as the managing entity, he probably should have "jumped at" the chance, but he felt that in his six years' experience at the park, he said the Kiwanis weren't deserving of the "ridicule and scorn" heaped on them and that they had done nothing worthy of lease termination.
Mr. Bennett responded to the attachments on the staff agenda letter, and provided a timeline: 1.) In March 2003, the Kiwanis requested a meeting; it was not due to City staff complaining about the need for upgrades. 2.) The Kiwanis plan was simple and effective, bringing in dirt to drain the fields towards the alley, using French drains in the low spots to protect the building and assure drainage. 3.) The City objected to the drains but offered to bring in up to 200 yard of dirt from Laguna Lake to help with the project. 4.) The City offered no financial assistance towards the project, insisting that the Kiwanis rent equipment even though he thought the City owned similar equipment. 5.) The City must have thought the plan was feasible as they agreed to and did "spray out" the field.
He said that the grass proceeded to die, as planned, and the City brought in the dirt to fill in "Lake Truslow". However, in April of 2003, civil engineer RJ Wilson, upon hearing of the plans, cautioned against the regrading because the Boys and Girls Club building and the restroom might get flooded. He said he communicated these concerns to Kiwanis who passed them on to the City who said a comprehensive plan needed to be developed before further work could be done on the park. He noted that it was a local scout leader, not City staff, who recognized the potential problem and helped divert a disaster, and secondly, although the City helped create the problem, no City financial assistance was offered.
Mr. Bennett said that in October, a task force consisting of RJ Wilson, Jim Sharp, a Kiwanian, and himself, was created to solve the problems found by RJ Wilson. He said they met with City staff to seek input on the comprehensive plan, and he said they told him they wanted "an expert" to solve the drainage problem as well as plans that could be shared and reviewed with various City departments. He summarized City staff's perspective on the park which was that 1.) staff knew it was City property but they were not willing to take any responsibility beyond landscape maintenance, 2.) there was no extra money in the budget, and if they did, they wouldn't spend it there, 3.) staff said if they had extra money, they'd spend it at Independence Park which they were having enough trouble funding, 4.) there are great programs at the park and they'd like to help but they can't, 5.) anything the task force could do to help would be greatly appreciated.
In November 2003, Mr. Bennett said the Kiwanis hired a licensed surveyor to create a topographic map of the park, and armed with this data, asked RJ Wilson if the drainage problem in the park could be solved. RJ Wilson said, "yes," but that it would no longer be a matter of moving dirt because the restroom would be under sea level, thus requiring the demolition and building of a new restroom which, Mr. Bennett said, the commissioners know would be very expensive if the City built it.
The task force knew it needed to create a much larger project, created a master plan for the park, and added Alvin Campbell of the Boys & Girls Club to the task force. They agreed the restroom should be built near the Scout Hut because that was the only building without a restroom. They also agreed to build a new basketball court away from the buildings to prevent broken windows. In short, Mr. Bennett said, they reviewed the whole park setup and talked about making improvements for all the programs there.
During this time, Mr. Bennett said, the task force briefed the Kiwanis board and their user groups to prepare them for the larger project. In June 2004, they brought their master plan and met with City staff, explaining the details. He said his observations of the meeting were 1.) City staff was positive about the plan, 2.) they still had no funding, 3.) they would help with securing permits, routing plans around the departments for comments as well as for tree removal and replanting. He said that comments were received from Development Services, Engineering, Community Services (now Parks and Recreation), and Maintenance Services.
Mr. Bennett said Development Services agreed that the restroom would need to be taken down and another one built, and that they would assist in securing permits. He said Engineering cautioned a water quality plan might be needed if too much cement was used, suggesting using semi-permeable surfaces like interlocking pavers instead for the patio and trailer parking to avoid that requirement. He said Maintenance Services approved the plan and said they might be able to use some City labor to install irrigation parts. He said the only significant concern was expressed by Randy McDaniel, Park Projects Manager, who "had other ideas about what - quote/unquote -a City park should look," and didn't want to remove two trees to facilitate a basketball court; however, Landscape Superintendent Dan Sereno helped resolve the problem by pointing out that that park was not like other parks, any improvements there would be welcome, and that all other departments were "on board with this." He said the plan posted at tonight's Commission meeting was circulated and commented on through the departments and agreed to, with the only objection about the placement of the basketball court from Kiwanis representative Jim Sharp; however, he was overruled.
Mr. Bennett said that, based on the extensive improvements planned, the task force asked Kiwanis to renew the lease early so that they could be sure their fundraising and improvements would benefit the users for a long time. Mr. Bennett noted a communication from Manager Alice Loya of the Parks and Recreation Department saying that it would not be necessary to take the plan to Commission, but that a response on the preliminary plans should be ready by the end of the next week. However, they did not want to agree to the improvements with only one year left on the lease. He said they wanted an early lease renewal but that was delayed due to the resignation of Community Services Director Susan Hunt and the arrival of Ron Molendyk. He said the status of the lease is still an open issue, according to the City, and was the purpose of tonight's meeting.
Mr. Bennett came to what he said was the most critical dates in the timeline, noting the written notice from Kiwanis to the City exercising its option to renew the lease for 25 years and a letter from the City confirming the Kiwanis' option, and saying that "all interactions with the City were positive and encouraging" at that time. He referred to an opinion from the Kiwanis attorney which stated that the 25 year lease renewal commenced on August 5, 2005.
Mr. Bennett said relations worsened when the Sub-Committee met with Kiwanis in March 2005, saying he "felt the [park] plans were set aside due to personality issues," but that the Kiwanis recognized the situation and moved to correct it. He said the second Sub-Committee meeting was "slightly less hostile" but that the City was trying to "drive a wedge" between Kiwanis and the Scouts, and he was told the City "liked the Scouts but really disliked the Kiwanis." Mr. Bennett said he suggested the City meet with different Kiwanis leadership, which is when Kiwanis President Kevin McCarthy stepped in.
He said a third Subcommittee meeting was held in June 2005 with Kevin McCarthy and Bill "Bear" Myers of Kiwanis which, while initially difficult, seemed to end well with Kevin McCarthy requesting the list of needed maintenance items which was not produced. However, in July, Mr. Bennett said, Kiwanis and the Scouts received a staff report on the Thursday prior to the Monday Commission meeting that was "180 degrees off" from what the conversation had been in June, saying the Kiwanis were "painted as slumlords and categorized as AWOL for the last two years," which he disputed.
Mr. Bennett said there was little activity between the July meeting postponement until last week. However, he said Kiwanis and the Scouts were developed concept plans into construction plans which were submitted to the City on October 4th. He reiterated the City's code enforcement visit last week which resulted in 16 items that were repaired over the weekend.
Mr. Bennett outlined the construction plan:
|Phase 1 - ||ADA-compliant restroom to be built near Scout Hut with storage: $20,000 cash in-hand and $20,000 in-kind labor from carpenters' union|
|Phase 2 - ||Replacement of fencing and permeable hardscape for $50,000 from 24-36 month capital campaign including grants, commemorative pavers, Kiwanis International, Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way, Boy Scouts, private donations and fundraisers.|
|Phase 3 - || Earthworks and irrigation: $30,000 |
|Phase 4 - ||Basketball court and patio replacement - $20,000 |
Mr. Bennett summarized his presentation, saying the Kiwanis have a long and proud history of support for the park, that the grass was the problem, but that it wasn't due to neglect and that the City was just as responsible for its current condition. He further said that the Kiwanis and users have been very proactive, developing a master plan, and developing the park without City financial assistance, and that further improvements have not been made because the lease renewal was held up since June 2004. He added that relations with the City was positive until the Subcommittee started meeting, that concept plans have been developed into construction plans that are now pending before the City, and "the maintenance issues are minor and easily corrected." He said the bottom line was that Kiwanis has lived up to their end of the agreement so their rights in the agreement should be respected. He said the problem was not Kiwanis, but the grass and that the solution was not a "hostile takeover" by the City, but rather to embrace the plans for the park.
Rather than looking for a scape goat, Mr. Bennett said they should allow Kiwanis to fix the park and make it better than before using private funds and encouraging community support. He said the Commission can stop the division and mistrust that exist by rejecting the findings of the Subcommittee, and that if it weren't for the condition of the grass, they would not be meeting tonight. However, he said the grass, irrigation, drainage and restroom can all be fixed. He asked the commissioners "to do the right thing" and thanked them for their time and attention.
Mr. Bennett then introduced Fred Johnson, Executive Director, and Alvin Campbell, Program Director, of Boys and Girls Club. Fred Johnson said they've had a "wonderful working relationship" with Kiwanis and Scouts for over 15 years, and said they are committed to complete the planned park improvements, and to just give them a chance. Mr. Campbell thanked the commissioners for listening to them, and said, having worked at the park for four and a half years, he had a unique perspective on the park and the concerns there for the 75 - 95 children that go to the Boys and Girls Club.
Mr. Campbell said the fences provide security but if the fences were down or opened up, someone could do the children harm. He said a drunk person came onto the grounds once when the gates were opened for two hours and had to be escorted out, and that there would be more trash and beer bottles if the park was open. He said his club is involved in the Adopt-A-Park Program at Independence and Richman parks and, thus, they are aware of the problems of public parks, and that the residents can use those parks instead. He said the Boys and Girls Club has a "great relationship" with the Kiwanis and Scouts, and asked that they be given the opportunity to work together to solve this issue.
Orlando Pino, Scout Master of Troop 93 spoke, saying he joined Scouts as a boy from Cuba, but it ended quickly, partly due to the loss of a building. However, he and his son joined Troop 93 with 100 boys because of the good facility, safety environment and support from Kiwanis, saying Kiwanis has been a good partner and has gone "above and beyond" in supporting them and maintaining the park. He asked that Commissioners not allow to happen to Troop 93 what happened to his boyhood troop. (Mr. Pino then provided a Spanish language version of his speech.)
Jim Kruse, District Commissioner of the Boy Scouts Los Amigos District said he was one of three volunteers responsible for overseeing the Los Amigos District of La Habra and Fullerton. He said the District has 1800 youth, boys and girls, in 60 scout units, and said nearly all of those youth and parents have stepped foot in Kiwanis Park. He said the Girl Scout building is known to him as the District Training Facility because of all the training programs that go on in there including a number of basic leader fundamental trainings, Cub Scout leader trainings, venturing trainings, district-wide trainings, and trainings for the boys, as well as overnight experiences. He said the fences provide security, especially for overnight camp outs, and that they would be unable to function without the fences even though they look unsightly.
Mr. Kruse described his relationship with Kiwanis, saying he started at the park in 1993 with Cub Scout Pack 1216 and that he never asked for something from Kiwanis that he didn't immediately get. He said Kiwanis always maintained the property, said he did know about "Lake Truslow," never had a problem with it, and closed with a story about using the park during the rains, saying they made a positive experience of "Lake Truslow" by building a Scout "monkey bridge" across it. He asked the commissioners to consider the kinds of programs that the Scouts can only provide at the Kiwanis park in partnership with Kiwanis, making it unique and well-known throughout the Orange County Council, and to build a bridge between the City and Kiwanis in order to allow the boys to enjoy the park for its "highest and best use."
Bob Jahnke said he was affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club since 1990, when the Girls Club was folded into the Boys and Girls Club and that it has been a "very comfortable relationship." He said he believes in volunteerism, is a Rotary Club member, and that their club was instrumental in building the Boys and Girls Club structure at no cost to the City. He said there are four sites for B & G's Club, but that this is the most popular, either due to the kids enjoying it or the parents appreciating the fencing. He said the main site has many amenities, but the local kids really like the Kiwanis site. He said Kiwanis has been very supportive, thanked Kevin McCarthy, reiterated his belief in volunteerism, and encouraged that to continue.
Ron Gillette, retired Fullerton Police Sergeant and Vice-President of the Boys and Girls Club, showed photos of the poor conditions near the park including old sofas, industrial, fenced buildings, and a boarded-up building. He said every property had barbed wire and fencing, saying safety was paramount when dealing with the children, and gave an example of a 16-year old boy who tried to assault a 12-year old girl last week at a St. Mary's festival. Mr. Gillette said he would have to disagree that things wouldn't change if the City took over since sleepovers wouldn't be possible without the fencing. He acknowledged that the barbed wire was an eyesore and that the fencing could perhaps be replaced, but emphasized the importance of having fencing.
Kevin McCarthy thanked the speakers and said it was clear that he wasn't the lone spokesperson, as stated previously. He explained that there are many who can speak for Kiwanis, the Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club, but that he was the President of Kiwanis, which is the parent organization of the Scouts, is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club, was the representative from these groups for matters relating to the Kiwanis facility and that he wasn't "trying to muzzle anybody." He said he was confident that the Kiwanis relationship with the park could be maintained, saying that it was due to a "clash between some individuals", and that "to change something after 45 years would be an absolute tragedy."
Chair Swanson thanked the speakers, noted the deviation from protocol with extended presentations and public comment prior to the commissioners' discussion, acknowleged the speakers' passion, and reminded the audience that nothing would change in the status of the Boys and Girls Club and the Scouts. He said the Commission was deciding whether Kiwanis should remain in the agreement.
Director Molendyk said the meeting would be opened up for public comment, but wanted to add two comments: He noted that Kiwanis and the City jointly submitted a grant to the Metropolitan Water District, and said he wanted to respond to the remarks made about the letter sent by the City. He said the intent of the letter was to honor the existing agreement at least until the matter came to Commission for its review and action, saying that that was pro forma for any leases until any issues were resolved.
Director Molendyk also explained the procedure for public speaking, saying a public comment form should be completed by the speaker, that any public comment would be limited to five minutes, and, in the essence of time, encouraged speakers not to duplicate what had already been said. When asked, he explained that he was the Parks and Recreation Director with responsibility for administering the department and leases. He also introduced Alice Loya, Administrative Manager, saying she dealt with leases at various properties operated by the City as well as private businesses such as the golf course, Summit House, and Spectrum (Meridian) Health Club.
Commissioner Russell said that normally after a presentation, the commissioners would ask questions before opening up to public comment, and that he would prefer this procedure as it might result in fewer questions from the audience. Commissioner Dalton said she agreed. Commissioner Swanson agreed, saying public comment would follow after Commissioner questions are answered.
Commissioner Russell referred to documents including the Kiwanis letter exercising the option to renew the lease, and the City's letter in response, agreeing with Director Molendyk that Mr. Bennett, in his presentation, had left off the part in the City's letter which stated that the City would honor the lease until it had been reviewed. He acknowledged that the Kiwanis had properly exercised its option to renew their lease, noting that the City responded within 30 days, and asked the City Attorney, Krista Jee, if that was all that had to be done for Kiwanis to renew its lease. She said that whether or not the City's response is considered a proper acceptance of Kiwanis' letter exercising its option to renew, or if the City wishes to terminate per the termination provision, the City would have to find the Kiwanis in violation of the agreement or failure to comply with the terms.
Commissioner Dalton asked how many Boy Scouts resided in Fullerton and was told about 70 - 80%. Alvin Campbell of the Boys and Girls Club said they serve 13 Fullerton schools in their transportation program, and estimated the numbers of children from each school for a total of 91 children. He agreed with Commissioner Dalton's assessment that the parents choose that particular site at the park based on the programming available, said the program was open to all schools in Fullerton and that there were non-Fullerton children if their parents drop them off or if they attend school in Fullerton.
Commissioner Keller asked the scouts in the audience which schools they attended, learning that the scouts were mostly from Fullerton High School. One scout leader said he was from Anaheim but chose Troop 93 because it was the best troop around, and that he uses Fullerton businesses, so the Commissioners shouldn't discount those living outside of Fullerton.
Commissioner Keller said she's lived in North Fullerton many years, was a Girl Scout at the Scout House, worked in a lot of programs, was very aware of the Boys and Girls Club, done a lot of research on the Kiwanis lease in the last three months. She said her major concern about the property, which she hadn't heard addressed this evening, was whether the kids living near the neighborhood were able to utilize the property.
Commissioner Keller said it was good that there is such a large troop at the park, but that she had met people from the Scoutreach Program at Richman Park, and found that they didn't even know the Kiwanis facility existed, saying that that concerned her. It didn't matter to her who is the leaseholder, rather that the children in the neighborhood have equal access to the park. She reiterated her support for the Scouts at the park, but expressed concern for a neighborhood where the ratio of residents to park space was high, and that the children there also be able to have campouts at that park.
Jim Cruse of the Boy Scouts responded, saying that according to the Thomas Guide, there were five parks with a square mile of the Scout Hut: Amerige, Union Pacific, Richman, Independence, Ford and Lemon parks. He said if kids want to camp in the park, they can speak with Kiwanis, but that taking down the fence when camping might not be safe. He reiterated his contention that there were "plenty of parks within a spitting distance of the Kiwanis Scout Park."
Scout Master Pina responded to Commissioner Keller's previous question about the Boy Scouts program, saying Boy Scouts are ages eleven and up, and that the younger Cub Scouts are supported by the schools or churches where they meet. He said the Cub Scouts probably don't know about the park because their leaders aren't communicating with the district, not because the Kiwanis scouts are trying to exclude them. He said they do a lot of outreach to Cub Scout packs, saying they have a special weekend each year and invite all the Webelos packs, probably the only group that does this.
Chair Swanson, saying "it's about the grass", asked if Phase 1 and 2 would continue regardless of whether Kiwanis was involved. Larry Bennett said no, that Kiwanis was integral to the plan, and said if the City takes over, the volunteers would say the City could do it and they wouldn't have the volunteer labor. He asked people to raise hands who would volunteer for the Scouts, Kiwanis and B & G's Club, and many raised hands, but when he asked who of those would volunteer for the City, nearly everyone dropped their hands. Chair Swanson remarked that that was "very sad," and Mr. Bennett agreed, saying that it was, however, "the realities of government." Chair Swanson said he was playing devil's advocate and that Mr. Bennett seemed to be "holding the City hostage." When he asked if the audience would help if it was the Boy Scouts and the City needing help, there was almost no response. Mr. Bennett noted that he volunteers his time on the Commission/Committee Applicant Review Board, but the reality was that a non-profit can "tug on the heart strings" and get volunteer help whereas when the City asks for help, people would ask why the City was bugging them.
Commissioner Han asked if there were so many volunteers available, why there was so much negligence until just recently. She referred to the slides shown of poor conditions at the park prior to Kevin McCarthy's presentation, saying it bothered her that Kiwanis didn't do anything until the possible break in the lease agreement, making repairs at the last minute. Commissioner Han referred to e-mails between City staff and the Kiwanis representative from 2002 and 2003 regarding improvements which were not done. She asked how the City could be assured that, if the agreement were renewed another 25 years, Kiwanis would actually do what they promised. She said that past experience tells one's future actions.
Kevin McCarthy said those were valid points about the last couple of years, but asked if the previous 45 years shouldn't also be considered when maintenance of the park wasn't in question, when there weren't problems, the City was happy and Kiwanis passed inspections. He said the list of repairs needed was requested long ago but wasn't provided by the City until very recently, but said he made the repairs because he said he would, which is how Kiwanis has always operated. He reiterated how Kiwanis, except for the last few years, has always taken care of the park. Mr. McCarthy said he wanted to work together, couldn't understand what the problem was, said everyone should be proud of what was going on at the park, and that he was a "by-product of the Boys and Girls Club." Commissioner Han agreed they wanted to work together and that the mission of Kiwanis and the youth programs were great, but there were the photos of the conditions which were "bad for the kids playing around."
Mr. McCarthy agreed but said there were many things being done by Kiwanis on a maintenance level which no one knows about. He added that the most important thing about the list of maintenance items being completed was to show Kiwanis' commitment to the park. He also pointed out that Kiwanis has raised $40,000 for a $160,000 project, and that they have "just scratched the surface" of the kind of fundraising they can do, saying he wasn't worried about the money nor maintaining the park. He said he didn't see how the City could lose on renewing the agreement, and asked that Kiwanis be given a chance to show what they can really do.
Commissioner Russell said when he drives by the park, "it's not a pleasant sight," and while appreciating the photos of the inside of the Scout House which he hadn't seen before, but when he drives there, he sees a park with barbed wire fence with structures that, other than the Boys and Girls Club, don't look that great, a lot of dirt and mounds, a tot lot kids shouldn't be on and a restroom "smack dab in the middle." He said he appreciated the 45-year history of Kiwanis at the park, but that the lease was being renewed now and that he saw "an eyesore." He said the commissioners didn't have any assurances that Kiwanis could make the improvements, whereas they had more control over what the City did although he liked the idea of Kiwanis spending its own rather than the City's money.
Commissioner Russell thanked Kiwanis for its timeline, and said part of the problem is that Kiwanis has said it did do "due diligence" but that the City had stopped them somehow. He said he would like the City to say what its plan for the park is, how much it would cost, and how taking over the park would make the park better. He asked for clarification on the City's responsibility for maintenance, particularly since it seemed to only be responsible for mowing, but killed the grass in preparation for Kiwanis' plan.
Larry Bennett of the Boy Scouts said the plan presented tonight was not the plan that the grass was killed for. He said this plan was to solve the problem created when the grass was killed in March 2003 because they didn't know filling in the dirt would cause flooding at the buildings. Mr. Bennett further explained that the concept plan was developed with Kiwanis funds and donated civil engineering services that provided a drainage plan. He said this plan was presented to and circulated through the City in June of 2004, and the City said it was a great plan but there were no funds. It was then that Kiwanis said they had the lease for another year, and that if the City would renew the lease, they would start on the improvements. However, Mr. Bennett said, the City then "put the kibosh on it." He added that Kiwanis could have gone ahead and developed actual construction drawings, but he asked if a business person would expend that kind of effort without a lease in place.
Commissioner Russell responded that he thought the park had been in disrepair prior to 2004. Mr. Bennett said it wasn't so until the grass was killed. Commissioner Russell said he understood the grass, but that there was more to the problem than the grass. Mr. Bennett countered that six City staff did a complete inspection and came up with 16 items.
Commissioner Russell asked staff to respond, agreeing that the 16 items were minor, but that even now he doubted that any children other than those supervised by the Boys and Girls Club would want to come to the park, even if it was open because it was "a mess. It is the ugliest, worse park we have in the City."
Administrative Manager Alice Loya said she was involved in 2003 with RJ Wilson, Larry Bennett, and Teresa Schuff. She said Maintenance Services, Development Services, Engineering, Community Services (now Parks and Recreation) met with Teresa Schuff. She said that Kiwanis had a plan to fix the "water problem" and, when asked by Commissioner Russell, said there was a problem before she came on board, more than six years ago. Manager Loya said it hasn't just been the grass that was a problem, but also the irrigation, adding that Maintenance has been working with Kiwanis "since the beginning" to help them.
Manager Loya said it was Kiwanis' responsibility to fix the irrigation, but the City has helped to get parts and fix the irrigation. She added that the irrigation didn't just need to be fixed, it needed to be replaced, the park regraded, and the tot lot taken out. Ms. Loya pointed out that the City doesn't provide maintenance because they lease the park to Kiwanis for $1 per year, saying they have the same relationship with a lot of other services organizations, and that they, too, are responsible for the park and improvements in exchange for the dollar.
Manager Loya said that when Kiwanis' first plan didn't work out, Kiwanis came up with another plan. She agreed the City killed off the grass because they really believed Kiwanis was going to move forward with their project, but that didn't happen. However, the grass wasn't the big problem, the problem was lack of irrigation. Manager Loya said the City did look at the new plan from RJ Wilson and Larry Bennett, saying they hadn't dropped the ball, rather they were waiting for Kiwanis to raise the money to execute their plan, and told Kiwanis that they couldn't give them any money because they already subsidized their programs by only charging $1. She said the City had no objections to the plan, but Kiwanis had not raised the money, and that was where it now stood.
Commissioner Russell said this was getting to the "crux of the problem," and that they needed to get a workable park that looks nice that, hopefully, can be used by the individuals that are here - the Scouts, and the Boys and Girls Club," and also, according to the other commissioners, open the park up to the community. However, Commissioner Russell stated that past performance is an indication of future performance, and, if the problem has existed for 5 and 6 years, not just one or two years, he had difficulty with that and just trusting that Kiwanis would come up with the money. He asked what the City's plan would be if they took over the park, and Manager Loya deferred that question to Director Molendyk. Commissioner Russell said that, when Director Molendyk was done, he would like Mr. Bennett to respond to Manager Loya's contention that the problem was ongoing for five or six years not just a year or two.
Director Molendyk said he has been with the City since September 2004, and that working with the Contracts Review Subcommittee, their concern was that the park had not been properly managed. He said he and staff were initially talking with three other Kiwanis representatives including Jim Sharp, but after the Subcommittee became involved, Larry Bennett and Kevin McCarthy also became more involved.
In talking with members of the community including the Girl Scouts, Director Molendyk said he learned that many felt that the park was being used by just two groups, Troop 93 and the Boys and Girls Club. He added that when Jim Sharp gave City staff a tour, he said that Kiwanis met at the facility perhaps twice a year, and generally met at the Arbor House. As a new administrator, Director Molendyk said he did wonder why the agreement wasn't better tracked by the City.
Part of the problem was communications with the former Kiwanis overseer who was a difficult person to work with, said Director Molendyk, which probably presented problems for Mr. McCarthy and definitely was the case with City staff. As for City plans for the park, Director Molendyk said the City would want to ensure buildings were up to code, and said Kiwanis did receive and make the corrections over the weekend. He added that a list wasn't provided earlier because the problems were much greater than those on a simple list; however, recently, the City Attorney's office thought such a list might be beneficial to conduct a walk-through in case any questions were asked this evening by either party. Other items Director Molendyk said the City would do is repair the irrigation, try to clean up the park, and the Commission would decide if a fence should be left up or not, depending on the use decided for the park. He said there was an idea in the community to move the fence back near the Scout House and to open up the front to the public.
Director Molendyk said it would take $300,000 - $400,000 to make improvements which matches the $160,000 in materials and $160,000 in in-kind labor estimated by Kiwanis. He said the City would be able to make the improvements more quickly, and that the Subcommittee has asked why it has taken Kiwanis so long to make the improvements. He also said that, in fairness to the Subcommittee, he wanted to note that the Subcommittee had been asking for information from Kiwanis also which, until tonight, wasn't provided.
Regarding usage of the facility, Director Molendyk said the original Kiwanis representative said the facility was used primarily on Tuesday or Thursday evenings by the Scouts and, occasionally, there might be a training program. He said staff were also told that there are an average of 150 children daily at the Boys and Girls Club; however, they have never seen 150 kids or 300 kids there in one day, pointing to the difficulty of verifying numbers. However, the main point the Subcommittee was making was that if Kiwanis wants to continue partnering with the City, how the Commission could be assured that the City and Kiwanis can work together with the necessary dollars to accomplish what some believe should have been done two or three years ago.
Returning to the question of what the City would do if it operated the park, Director Molendyk said they would clean up the park and try to make the buildings available to the public most of the time, unlike the selectiveness exercised by the previous Kiwanis representative. He said the information on numbers served which they were hearing for the first time tonight are more in line with what the Subcommittee was hoping to hear.
If the Commission and City Council decided that the City should take over, Director Molendyk said the City could manage it. However, it was decided to maintain a partnership, the City could also do that, noting that the City has good partnerships with the YMCA, Child Guidance Center, Boys and Girls Club on Commonwealth, and Summit House. He said it was important to get the "right personalities to mesh and work together" and to have positive personalities working together. When asked, Commissioner Russell said Director Molendyk's response more than answered his question.
Commissioner Russell asked if Larry Bennett was aware of the irrigation problem since he came six years ago, and Mr. Bennett said yes, but that the grass "looked a heck of a lot better than it does today," and that it would never look like "Coyote Hills". He agreed that there were occasional maintenance problems, and that sometimes the problem may not have been taken care of immediately because Kiwanis wasn't notified immediately. However, he said the perception that the park had been in "total disrepair for 100 years was contrary to his personal experience. He asked Scout Commissioner Jim Kruse his opinion and Mr. Kruse said the park looked better twelve years ago, but said it probably got a lot more foot traffic "than most of the prettier parks in this town." Commissioner Russell asked when the foot traffic happened.
Elvin Campbell, Program Director for the Boys and Girls Club, said they were picking up 66 to 75 kids four and a half years ago, but they've doubled since then. He said the summer has 100+ children from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. who are running all over, and there was only one patch of dirt near where "Lake Truslow" was. He said that the park might not look as good as it did ten years ago, but that their programs were better. Jim Kruse said the various troops have grown six times since 1997, plus there are three different Cub Scout packs meeting on different nights in addition to the adult training.
Commissioner Swanson asked Krista Jee from the City Attorney's office about a lease amendment, saying they want to ensure that the improvements and repairs will be made, particularly the grass and Lake Truslow. Ms. Jee said there were three different ways to look at it: 1.) Kiwanis would need to be willing to revise the agreement to include items like a timeline and certain improvements, and if the City finds that some of the requirements haven't been met, it can put on additional requirements as part of the lease renewal. 2.) The City could renew the agreement as is for another 25 years, and if there was any concern about a failure to satisfy the maintenance requirements, as with tonight's meeting, they could always bring it back to Commission and terminate the agreement if the findings were true. When Commissioner Russell asked if the concept plans with phases could be tied into a lease with timelines, and Ms. Jee said that could be done if Kiwanis was willing to do so, however, whether they could impose additional requirements without Kiwanis' assent was another question, although that was a possibility.
Commissioner Russell asked if Kiwanis would be willing to consider a renewed lease to ensure that improvements would be done in a timely fashion. Kevin McCarthy said he would be willing to take the City's request to the board and the membership if there was a specific understanding of what was requested. Commissioner Russell tried to emphasize his dilemma in deciding whether he can be assured that Kiwanis would make the improvements. He said that although Director Molendyk said the City could complete improvements in a timely fashion, he felt that Kiwanis could probably do it sooner, and he liked the idea of not using taxpayer money on something Kiwanis could probably raise funds for. However if he were to consider this, he would need a timeline when things are going to be done to allay his fears since Kiwanis didn't make improvements until now.
Kevin McCarthy responded that, above all, he would really like a chance, and believed that would not cause anyone any pain or difficulty if it was within a reasonable time frame, noting that he wasn't directly involved with the problem until about June of 2005. He responded to Commissioner Russell's question about bringing a timeline to the board for approval by saying his board would review everything, and would be honest if Kiwanis felt it could or couldn't complete something. He said that the communications and information sometimes breaks down, depending on whom you are dealing with. Commissioner Russell noted his choice of going with the City which has the resources or allowing the private sector to fix the park, and Mr. McCarthy asked if it wouldn't be nice if both parties worked together to accomplish the same goal.
Commissioner Russell said he knew residents of the area would come up and ask about access to the park for their children. He acknowledged the safety concerns about taking the fencing down, asked if there was a compromise so the Boy Scouts could have some fencing to allow them their camp outs and security while removing some fencing to allow access to the community. He added that, contrary to a prior speaker's contention that there was plenty of park space, the Kiwanis park area had a very dense population and that "we don't have near enough park space in that area," so that any park space should be opened up. He said it would be tough for him to allow the park to remain closed, and asked if there could be any compromise on the fencing.
Mr. Bennett said one compromise he thought of was to allow the Mom's clubs in the City, which have responsible leadership, to have a key so that if the gate was unlocked, Kiwanis "would know who to come looking for." He said there are a number of non-Scout and non-Boys and Girls Club groups that have used the park, but that just opening up the gates would allow both nice people and "non-nice" people to use the park.
Commissioner Spencer asked about supervision during the day, and Mr. Bennett said it was the Boys and Girls Club. She asked when campouts occurred and he replied, "Mostly nights and weekends." Commissioner Spencer suggested opening and closing the fencing at certain hours, perhaps when the Boys and Girls Club director leaves, but Mr. Bennett said there would be a potential for vandalism. When she asked about enclosing the Scout house, but Mr. Bennett said the lot was too small, and would eliminate camping and open up the fire ring to the public, a potential liability issue. Mr. Bennett said the park was only about one and a half acres, and Mr. McCarthy said that with all the buildings, there was probably only about three quarters of an acre of grass.
Commissioner Russell asked Director Molendyk if taking the fencing down was a possibility. Director Molendyk said the only master plan was the Kiwanis' which allows for fencing, but he'd heard the commissioners desire to take down fencing; however, he also knows that the schools have similar fencing issues where fences which were taken down were being put back up for safety reasons. He said if Kiwanis decided not to renew the lease, staff would come to Commission and provide pros and cons regarding fencing. Whether or not to have fencing would depend on the use, but he understood the desire to have fencing.
In discussion with Mr. McCarthy, Director Molendyk said he was told that due to the problems with the irrigation, Kiwanis has asked if the City could take that part of the maintenance over. However, he said he doesn't care who manages the park, but the Commission has to consider and feel comfortable if Kiwanis can meet its obligations with their contract and the improvements. He noted that the lease written 25 years ago was poorly written and very one-sided. He said that he has heard that the Commission might want some timelines to measure Kiwanis' performance, however, they might also want timelines for staff performance. He said the City would be willing to work with Kiwanis, noting the Metropolitan Water District grant they applied for but didn't get. However, he also acknowledged the Contracts Review Sub Committee's concerns that the master plan has never been implemented and if the small Kiwanis membership has the financial capability to continue to be the lead. Commissioner Russell said it's important to know if the City takes over and the fencing is being taken down, how that would affect the Scout's and Boys and Girls Club programs because the City's contention that there would be no affect on the Scouts would not be true. He said if the lease is not renewed, to be fair to everyone, it should be stated what will happen to the park, and whether the fences will stay up or be taken down.
Chair Swanson said that due to the late hour and in respect to those who have filed requests to speak, he wanted to open the meeting up to those who have something different to say, acknowledging the positive benefits of the park to the Scouts. He said that the commissioners could then continue their questions. Director Molendyk called up the first speaker, Michael McKay, Commissioner Dalton thanked the audience for being patient, and Chair Swanson said each speaker would get his/her full five-minute allotment.
Michael McKay, 2757 Puente Street, Fullerton 92835
- Secretary of Kiwanis, said he sent the letter of renewal, and that he was surprised when they were recommended against renewal because there was no notification that the City was unhappy, and that they only received a letter from the City saying that it had received Kiwanis' letter of renewal. He added that in the 25 years of their lease, Kiwanis had never received a notification of any problems and only heard complaints about Jim Sharp's character whom he said also had a good side. He noted the many awards the Fullerton Kiwanis has received for its work.
Kelly Lynch, 1018 S. Highland Avenue, Apt. A, Fullerton
- A single mom who has her children in the Boys and Girls Club, she stated her concerns if the fence was taken down, saying that she did an internet search and found that there were 34 sex offenders in the area. She did not consider the park an "eyesore," saying her children were happy there, and that the gates kept her children safe.
Harlan Comee, 18611 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda 92884
- 2005-06 Division Lieutenant Governor for Division 30 of California, Nevada, Hawaii District of Kiwanis International, said there was concern expressed about the Kiwanis having the manpower and financing to complete this project, but said he would mobilize the 300 District members as well as hundreds of Key Clubbers and Kiwanis grants to ensure the success of the project.
Roy Reaser, 2006 Carol Drive, Fullerton
- Said he has a foster child at the Boys and Girls Club, and that the County finds that facility safe. He said the City and staff wasn't doing its job if it didn't know its numbers; Director Molendyk clarified that they asked for the numbers but didn't get them until tonight. He said the only plan is the one submitted by Kiwanis, said cities are often "full of hot air," and while he doesn't know anyone in Kiwanis, he wanted the City to give Kiwanis a chance.
Tony Valla, 806 Morningside Drive, Fullerton 92835
- Said the Girl Scouts used to use the property, and that he was a former Girl Scout parent, volunteer, and Boy Scout volunteer for 20 years. He said the Girl Scouts agree with the Subcommittee's recommendation not to renew lease. He said he wants proof by examining financial records and attendance records. He said the Girl Scouts rented the property for 25 years, had strained relationships with Jim Sharp, and would prefer to have a relationship with the City. Mr. Valla said they would prefer to work with the City Parks and Recreation Department. He said they had difficulty with the Scouts, too, and said Larry Bennett told the Girl Scouts if they used the building, they would have to become part of the Scouts and become a Co-ed Venture Crew.
Alesa Krull, 101 N. Woods Avenue, Fullerton 92835
- Has been part of Fullerton Girl Scouts since 1983, serving grades 9 - 12, and was a leader and manager of 40 - 45 troops. She described programs and service of the Girl Scouts, saying the building was a home for 20 years. She said the Girl Scout Council decided that the building was too expensive to maintain, but prior to that, it maintained the facility, added the roof, painted it, and carpeted it five times while the Kiwanis did nothing. She said they are losing girls because there is no place to meet. She said they asked Kevin McCarthy in July if they could use space at the park, and he said they could submit a proposal, but that they were fully booked with trainings. She said 800 - 1,000 Fullerton girls are served annually, and a total of 10,000 girls have been served. She said the City was better suited to oversee and maintain the property.
Susan Kinzinger, 3250 La Travesia Drive, Fullerton 92835
- Wanted to add to Tony Valla's statement, and reported that the Girl Scout Council of Orange County will allow the Fullerton Girl Scouts to use the Kiwanis building with full liability insurance but not for overnight stays. She read a statement from Girl Scout volunteer Leslie York, who was home sick, who said they were told by the Boy Scouts in August 2003 that they could use the building but they would have to become part of the Scouts' Co-ed Venture Crew. Ms. York also wrote that Mr. McCarthy told them that the Girl Scouts would have to come up with their own insurance and money to offset the costs because Kiwanis was a small group without a lot of money. She said there was a double standard for the Girl Scouts versus the Boy Scouts from Kiwanis although there was one Boy Scout Troop using one building and all the 900 Girl Scouts in Fullerton needing to use the other building. Ms. York also said she wrote a letter asking to retain use of the property on November 8. 2003, but that the Kiwanis president, Bernard Lipmann, never responded, and ended her statement by asking that the City manage the property.
Ms. Kinsinger said she has served in several positions with the Girls Scouts, that there were few places for Girl Scouts to meet, especially those without a school. She said basic training for leaders is given in her livingroom and that all the equipment is scattered around the county because there is no storage space. She asked that the City make a commitment to Girl Scouts by allowing them to have a home they can call their own.
Kitty Jaramillo, 1358 W. Houston, Fullerton
- Said she has lived 51 years in Fullerton, and clarified that no one was being displaced if the lease was not renewed. She thought the fencing problem could be solved, if there were gates. She said she had been an inspector for the City, and for the last 20 years, the property has always looked "crappy", that she didn't even know this was a City property. Ms. Jaramillo said the neighbors haven't complained because they are lower income and accept things as they are, but that the neighbors here could really use this. She thought that there were enough creative people who could figure out how to keep the property fenced and allow the public to use it, not just a chosen few. She also took some offense to the man who said there were enough parks, saying that there aren't enough parks, and that she hoped the Commission didn't accept that "ridiculous" statement. She added that the reason the Boys and Girls Club has grown so much is because of the great demand for day care in general.
Ana Lily Velasco, 1211 E. Dyer Rd, Santa Ana
- Said she is part of the Boy Scouts, but said she was not there to support any side, but rather the decision of the Commission and to tell them about Scoutreach and what it could do if they have access to the property as well. She said Scoutreach of the Boy Scouts tries to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to join in scouting regardless of the neighborhood or ethnic background. She said they've been working a lot in Fullerton, have six schools in Fullerton, serving 100 children in Richman, 70 kids in Woodcrest. She said she saw the property, saying she could envision what the property could do for the kids who live in the neighborhood, and said she would love to have access to that property.
Mariam Darrow, Richman School Community, Fullerton
- Said she has worked in the area for seven and a half years, is part of the Richman Valencia Task Force and works with the City to improve the community. She asked that Kiwanis Park be an inviting, accessible park for everyone. She translated a letter from a parent, Veronica, who had to leave, who said she lives near the Kiwanis park, and that there was a program there which ended called Even Start which benefited parents, and that she would like the City to provide a similar program. Ms. Darrow said, as Richman School PTA President, she has never seen any scouts coming to the Richman community, attending the Valencia Task Force meetings, nor ever offering the community any help. She said that if Kiwanis does keep the park, that they should come to Richman and help out, and get to know them.
Grace Choe, 119 N. Yale Ave., #B, Fullerton 92831
- A den leader, she spoke on the fencing, saying she's a mother of two, that there are a lot of parks where she won't take her children, and gave the example of Richman Park where she found adult material, bottles, and trash. She didn't think the Kiwanis park was an eyesore, but agreed the outside of the Kiwanis park was plain; however, she said the inside reflected the spirit of scouting. Ms. Choe said she was concerned about the safety of the boys and the buildings if the fencing went down, she might not want to take her children there. She said safety was much more important than the park looking nice.
Richard Tovey, 3425 Nevada Avenue, El Monte
- Was not from Fullerton, but was on the Planning Commission in his town so he understood their concerns. He said Commissioner Russell has "built a fire under the feet" of Kiwanis who have committed to managing this, and he thought the Commission should give Kiwanis the chance since Commission "has the hammer."
Kevin Garver, 2005 W. Minerva, Anaheim
- Said those who spoke about taking down the fence didn't know what they were talking about because they might as well burn down the building because the vandalism would take care of it. He said Kiwanis Park was not like a regular park, and that it would be like trying to turn the Fire Station into the library. He said they try to give equal access and haven't turned anyone away. He said Kiwanis isn't always fast, nor is business, but it would be faster than the City, and volunteerism and the private sector works even faster.
Mario Villamil, 436 W. Valencia, #A, Fullerton 92832
, Said he's part of the Valencia Task Force and in charge of a soccer club for youth. He said he's not against the Boys and Girls Club because they work for the benefit of their children. He has about 100 children enrolled in his program, and one of the major problems encountered is the lack of parks to practice soccer and other sports. He wanted the Commission to consider that the Boys and Girls Club has had the park for 25 years, but that he wasn't aware the park was public. He said it was time to open the park so their youth can practice their sports. He said Richman Park is so populated, it's overcrowded and they need someplace else to practice.
Betsy Gibbs, 205 N. Cornell, Fullerton
- Said she was fond of access for the community, but she said the quality of programming at the Kiwanis park does require the fencing. She said there is accountability, despite some past history, that she knows that Kiwanis will take "total responsibility" to do what they've promised. She said the programs there are very valuable, and shouldn't be destroyed because of other important things that need to take place, adding that although the park may look like an eyesore, it has "a great heart."
Oscar Parra, 12709 McGee Drive, Whitter 90602
- Athletic Director at the Boys and Girls Club for four years. He said his first concern was safety and that he didn't believe the Commission would put a price on safety. If the fences came down, he said they would have to be more vigilant, and asked if the City could guarantee a child wouldn't get hurt. If someone else wanted to use the facility for soccer, there was no time or room for them due to the Boys & Girls Club. He said the field is small and can't be used as a soccer or baseball field. He reiterated concern if the fencing came down.
Jesus Villegas, 625 W. Rosslynn, Fullerton
- Boys and Girls Club staff, expressed concern if the fencing came down. He said the area nearby is full of graffiti and trash, and a nearby alley has cars going 40 mph down it. He said if he was a parent, he wouldn't take his child there without the fencing.
Rachael Ramirez, 138 S. Thompson Avenue, Fullerton 92833
- Boys and Girls Club staff for three years, said those kids are like her own, reiterated the need to keep the fencing up, saying without it, there would be beer bottles, trash and delinquent kids.
Sheryl Roach, 1442 E. Evergreen Avenue, Fullerton
- Said she was involved in scouting for 12 years, using the facility and working with the Kiwanis, saying that they were always right there for them. She said she worked for the City for over 10 years, and knows the facility is well-used. She said the Boys and Girls Club assisted her when she needed day care for her two boys, and felt that the fencing was very important, since this was the only place which allowed camping and overnight experiences. She said she was part of the Adopt-A-Park program which demonstrated the need for park cleanup, noting that there were many inappropriate things she found there, too.
Chair Swanson acknowledged all the positive comments but asked for any different comments.
Merton Hill (no speaker form)
- Said he's been in Kiwanis for 59 years, saying Kiwanis took over the park from the 20/30 club in 1956 or 1958, and that the lease 25 years ago was itself a renewal of a 25-year lease. He said the Kiwanis and Seabees built the original club house as part of the lease. Building #4 and the Girl Scout House were also established in 1962 through Kiwanis, and the Girl Scouts added kitchen and bathroom facilities onto the building. Mr. Hill said Kiwanis membership has been up and down, but there have been many City personnel in the club including mayors, councilmen, police chiefs and park superintendents which helped Kiwanis to stay involved with the park. He said whatever the Commission wanted to do, was fine, but they won't get a better group of people who had helped in the development in the City and the parks.
Since there were no further public comments, Chair Swanson asked the Commissioners for any follow-up comments.
Commissioner Keller said she had pages of notes from tonight and the last three months, but would try to condense them. She repeated the contract language in the lease including purpose, who would be served and the purpose of the Community Services (Parks and Recreation) Department: Conveniently located programs responsive to residents' needs, integrated with community partners, to include recreation, human service, cultural and fine art programs, which she asked everyone to keep that in mind. Commissioner Keller said she was very familiar with the park and the grass problem, knew that the Even Start program just ended, wanted to form partnerships to bring something like that back, and that she'd like to work on that herself personally. She said she had concerns that Even Start wasn't allowed to use the Girl Scout House for parenting classes last year, probably due to the Kiwanis gentleman, Jim Sharp.
Commissioner Keller said she is a parent, teacher, loves children and has been very involved in the community, and while acknowledging the "icky" things found in parks, she wouldn't want her children or other people's children behind barbed wire. She said she would like "a nicer kind of fence" with a gate as a goal, although she knew it would be expensive, adding that one should not have to belong to a Mom's Club to use the park. She also supported equal access, saying if the boys have a house, the girls should have their house, too, especially if there were 900 girls and one Boy Scout troop. She asked if other wanted to talk because she wanted to make a motion. Chair Swanson said they might want to look for more comments.
Commissioner Spencer said as a Subcommittee, they tried to do a good job and said if they offended anyone, she apologized for any misunderstandings. She acknowledged the difficulties with the previous Kiwanis representative, saying that that "started the wrong tone," but said they support all the various organizations, and wondered if they were trying to serve too many. She recognized Kiwanis' efforts, saying it isn't easy to do everything and raise funds. She said she wants the Kiwanis and City to work together on a better lease, that 25 years might be too long. She said she received new information tonight so that they could work together.
Commissioner Miller said the subcommittee is painted as the bad guy, but they had to ask the questions the Commission would ask anyway. He said there were too many issues to solve in one evening although Kiwanis had "made a great effort." However, the Commission knew the condition of the park, and, as Commissioner Russell indicated, the past usually indicates the future. He suggested they would like to terminate the lease, but Kiwanis be given a chance with a new lease.
Commissioner Russell said he has probably changed his mind, too. However, he would rather not terminate the lease, but see if the lease could be mutually renewed. Commissioner Russell said he is one for open space, and had fought for it south of Commonwealth. However, the park was unique, wanted to find a compromise, allowing the Boy Scouts and Boys and Girls Club to use it, but allowing it to be accessible to all, i.e., the fencing. He said the fencing could stay up, but perhaps nicer fencing, and so that people living in the community know it's accessible and inviting. He said the City goes slow, but if the Kiwanis could agree to specific timelines and goals, they could renew the lease for a shorter period of time, then for a longer period of time. He was not for terminating the lease, feeling that things started off on a bad note. Commissioner Miller said he would agree with that and withdraw his suggestion to terminate the lease if Kiwanis were willing to sit down and re-negotiate.
Chair Swanson asked the City Attorney if the Commission could recommend a lease renewal with contingencies as a motion in order to move to the next step. Attorney Jee recommended that Commission ask staff to develop an agreement .
Commissioner Keller MADE A MOTION to direct City Staff and the Kiwanis Club, in partnership, to go back to the table to re-write the lease agreement. Included should be a timeline for irrigation and other upgrades. Also included should be ideas for additional community programs that will serve residents in the surrounding communities. She asked for assistance on who would be responsible for what items. Director Molendyk said that could be worked out between Kiwanis and the City as to which party had the best resources for what tasks.
Commissioner Russell SECONDED THE MOTION. Director Molendyk said Kiwanis and staff could work out an agreement, and Commission can recommend it to City Council.
Chair Swanson wanted an amendment in the agreement so that the City would have "the last right of refusal" as the ultimate landlord so they could consider another group that wanted to participate. Commissioner Miller said they could also provide some thoughts for their discussion. When Chair Swanson asked if the motion was sufficient, and Attorney Jee said Commission had given a general direction for staff to negotiate the specifics which would then go back to Commission for review. Chair Swanson concurred.
Director Molendyk summarized, saying that staff would work with Kiwanis to develop a mutually agreed-upon agreement, outlining performance, and that if Commission concurs, the lease would then go to City Council for consideration as Council was the only body who could approve a lease.
Commissioner Dalton said she has learned that, especially with such a long lease, the contract and property needed to be properly monitored by the City, and Kiwanis could have done things differently, too. If they've all learned, they could move ahead with a true partnership to meet all the community's needs. She said Kiwanis needed to mentor that relationship and the City should try to meet those goals and maximize a piece of City property. Thus, Commissioner Dalton said she wanted to negotiate a new lease with Kiwanis, and that everyone's heart has been in the right place, but the lack of communication and "bad blood" caused problems.
Commissioner Dalton said, in adopting a new lease, the City has to ask itself how it can more properly monitor the lease, and that she believed Kiwanis' commitment tonight to do better. A timeline for phasing in the master plan was needed, she said, with some real commitments including those from Kiwanis International as well as the City because the park can benefit the whole city. She said the assumption that Kiwanis could do it alone might be erroneous and that they might need a financial partnership with the City. She also asked for a shorter lease period to ensure timelines are met, which could then be extended longer if commitments are met.
Commissioner Dalton also expressed concern for better access for others including Scoutreach and young moms, saying this community really needs resources. Her biggest "bone of contention" was the problem of the Girl Scouts, and asked about Kiwanis' responsibility with insurance.
Kevin McCarthy said his insurance agency insures the Boys and Girls Club, and the Kiwanis Youth Park, and the premium is donated back to the organizations. While the Kiwanis has insurance, its insurance company would require that the Girl Scouts provide a certificate of insurance which would match the coverage of Kiwanis, i.e., $1 million.
Commissioner Dalton asked Mr. McCarthy to comment on the problems with the Girl Scouts, and he said he would also welcome Tony Valla or anyone else to comment on it. He asked how, if the Girl Scouts had been there for 25 years, and it's still called the Girl Scout building, why they would not want the Girl Scouts there now. He said he's had two meetings with the Girl Scouts and that their only concern was the insurance. He said if they've taken care of that issue and want to reapply, he felt they should be able to have it, although he conceded that his was only one voice. But he said they've invited the Girl Scouts to attend the board meeting and submit an application, saying the likelihood they would be accepted was very good. He asked if the Girl Scouts were using the building, if they would also be willing to open the building up to other groups, too. He said that Kiwanis was never pitted against any other group, but that if that was the impression, he publicly apologized. He also reminded everyone not to judge Kiwanis on one member.
Commissioner Dalton agreed, saying that was a valuable lesson. She suggested that Kiwanis assist the Girl Scouts, saying there would have to be a guarantee that the Girl Scouts are included, if she is to approve any agreement with Kiwanis. While being only one voting member of Kiwanis, Kevin McCarthy agreed with Commissioner Dalton's suggestion. Commissioner Dalton said she wanted to see Kiwanis and the Girl Scouts meeting as soon as possible to iron out some of the issues discussed so that there are assurances in the new proposed lease agreement that appropriate use of the space is assured.
Mary Smith (no speaker form), Secretary to Larry Bennett, said she "didn't have a bone to pick," but said she was asked to find out what was keeping the Girl Scouts from making lease arrangements with Kiwanis. She then read from Sept. 9, 2005 e-mails from the Orange County Girl Scout Council, clarifying its position on the Kiwanis building. One said the Council didn't want to lease the facility but would support a place for Fullerton troops to meet, and that they would support the use of the Kiwanis Girl Scout House, but only for troop meetings, and not for ownership or exclusivity as the Council was not interested in holding the lease. She said the building has not been empty since the Girl Scouts left, mentioning several meetings held annually, and she said if the Girl Scouts want it four or five days a week, that would be exclusivity. She also said she was at the meetings where Kevin McCarthy told the Girl Scouts to submit a proposal, but they didn't do so and never showed up at the meetings. Ms. Smith said the building was "in total disrepair," contrary to what the Girl Scouts were saying, and wondered where all the maintenance money went.
Larry Bennett responded to the charge that they were trying to get Girl Scouts to become Boy Scouts, saying that he didn't say that, and that he's never had a conversation with Tony Valla. He added that he has four women in his troop who were also Girl Scout leaders, and that when the problem of insurance coverage came up, he suggested to one of those leaders that the Girl Scouts joint-register themselves as Girl Scouts and Venture Crews to solve the liability issue. He strongly denied that he would ever try to tell the Girl Scouts they would have to become Boy Scouts to use the facility.
Kevin McCarthy said he would be willing to work with the Girl Scouts as a representative of Kiwanis and couldn't see why they wouldn't. Commissioner Dalton thanked Mr. McCarthy.
Commissioner Keller asked about coverage for a small group that wants to use the facility. Kevin McCarthy said the cost is $750 - $1,000 per day for a $1 million coverage, acknowledging it was "ridiculous and horrible," but he didn't know how to circumvent it. Attorney Jee said there is a question who would be responsible, and that the City requires users and contractors to have their own liability, but the City or Kiwanis could consider covering it. Kevin McCarthy said if Kiwanis were to provide coverage, they would have to lay out to the insurance company exactly how the property would be used, which they wouldn't be able to do. Director Molendyk said they probably couldn't resolve it tonight, but that they would cover this in a staff report. Attorney Jee said, regardless, the bottom line was that the question of liability would always come back to the City.
Commissioner Han said she learned a lot of things, especially regarding the lack of communication, and that the discussion was worth the late night. She said because the lease was $1, instead of $5,000, for example, it was neglected by both the Kiwanis and the City. She said she had planned to vote against it, but has changed her heart due to the speakers, could see their commitment, agreed with the need to have a fence, and wanted to work it out. However, she said that the current fence "looked tacky," so more money would be need to be spent.
Commissioner Han added that the Kiwanis members needed to take more individual responsibility on a regular basis as they would if it was their own family rather than the finger-pointing she's seen. She suggested that the City and Kiwanis sit down once in a while to discuss the lease, and that the 25-year lease be revised and renewed subject to completion of a Phase 1. She understood that no one was perfect, that 80 - 100 kids running around daily would be very hard on grass, that rather than blaming each other, they should work this out because it was everyone's city and she "loved Fullerton." She ended her comments by saying she would support a lease renewal.
Chair Swanson noted the existing motion and second, and asked if there were further commissioner comments. Commissioner Dalton asked if staff was comfortable with the information Commission has asked for, and Director Molendyk said "yes" and that they would be in contact wih Mr. McCarthy with an outline, and would return to the Commission with a recommendation. Commissioner Keller asked if it would be appropriate for any commissioners to sit with that group, and Mr. McCarthy said anyone was welcome. Chair Swanson said a subcommittee was already handling this, but that there's been a change of heart there, too. He welcomed anyone who wanted to participate unless it violated the Brown Act. Chair Swanson called for the vote.
AYES: Dalton, Han, Keller, Miller, Russell, Spencer, Swanson
The MOTION CARRIED unanimously.
Chair Swanson thanked those who attended the meeting and apologized to those who still had to wait.
INFORMATION ITEMS (Items 4 - 7)
4. LANDSCAPE DIVISION MONTHLY REPORT FOR SEPTEMBER 2005
Chair Swanson apologized to Superintendent Quinlivan for the late night, saying he thought there would be landscape questions related to the Kiwanis grass. He also thanked Landscape Supervisor Phil Kisor for staying, also.
The September 2005 Landscape Division Monthly Report was received and filed with Superintendent Quinlivan providing a verbal report. Commissioner Russell asked about the tree and sign that was flattened near Skyline, was told they blew over and were put back up with two more trees to be planted there. Superintendent Quiinlivan informed Commissioner Spencer that the Division had submitted a list of 316 tree sites for replanting with West Coast Arborists. Chair Swanson again thanked the Landscape Division staff for staying so late.
Commissioner Dalton asked about the motorized police bikes on the trails, noting the controversy, and Superintendent Quinlivan said he hasn't heard a lot about it although he heard they were having some initial difficulty with the bikes; however, he said he would get back to them on that question. Commissioner Keller said the Police Department had met with the Rec Riders on this issue, but that was all she knew.
5. DIRECTOR'S UPDATE
Director Molendyk reminded the commissioners about the Bastanchury Park dedication on Saturday, October 22nd. He outlined the program: 9:00 a.m. light refreshments, 9:30 dedication, and acknowledged Commissioner Keller who couldn't attend. Commissioner Spencer said she couldn't attend either.
Director Molendyk also noted the Laguna Lake dedication which would occur when the lake improvements for Phase 1 were completed. He also noted that Senator Ackerman would be involved since he helped bring in funding, and that the lake was green but that the filters should start working. Director Molendyk noted that, contrary to what some people might believe, the lake would not be fully landscaped and renovated, i.e., "what you see is what you're going to get," and that the $68,000 annual lake management plan wasn't in the budget. In addition, he said Fish and Game has notified them that there is no allocation of fish for that lake, so the Department will probably have to stock the fish through private fisheries. He also noted that the Department will also be conducting water quality tests to ensure the water is safe for fish, and that Vector Control wanted to put mosquito fish in the lake, but that they wanted to ensure that the other fish wouldn't eat the mosquito fish and would be able to live in the shallow waters of the lake.
Commissioner Spencer expressed concern because there was a committee for Laguna Lake that had all kinds of experts but the lake still went green, and that they were also promised more trees, which she was told were going in. She emphasized the need to have the dedication when lake wasn't green.
6. REPORT ON CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEMS
There were no commissioner comments or questions on the City Council agenda items.
7. COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Chair Swanson noted that his "held for ransom" comment when Larry Bennett asked the audience who would volunteer for the Scouts and who would volunteer to assist the City didn't go over well, but he wanted to go on record that he felt the Commission was "held for ransom." Commissioner Keller agreed, and Commissioner Dalton said it was "as old as politics." Commissioner Spencer said, "It was nicely orchestrated," and Commissioner Swanson said it was "very passionate, which it should have been."
Commissioner Keller reported they received the Cal State University Fullerton HUD grant at Richman Park, and passed out an official announcement to the commissioners and Director Molelndyk.
Commissioner Miller MADE A MOTION to adjourn the meeting, and Commissioner Keller SECONDED THE MOTION. The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 p.m.