A Way To Save Marna O’Brien’s Sports Fields…

 

….SHOULD MEASURE D FAIL GARNER A 2/3 MAJORITY

Last evening’s city-sponsored Budget session was a lightly attended, yet interesting and productive discussion of the City of Wildomar’s budget process.

As promised, Zak Turango’s obsequious and compliant surrogate, Gil Rasmussen, did indeed make a presentation to the group, outlining his solution for Wildomar’s Park dilemma, going forward, should Measure D fail to win a 66 2/3% majority vote on June 07, 2011.

Given Wildomar’s voting history on parks, where 45% of the voters voted “against” the park assessment in 2006, it is unlikely that many of the 45% “no” voting bloc has moved away from Wildomar since 2006. These would not be the folks that moved into Wildomar during the recent and short-lived real estate boom.

And it is unlikely that they have changed their mind about Park assessments.

With my apologies for its length, Zak attaches his presentation notes, for your consideration, as follows: 

FUNDING OF A STREAMLINED WILDOMAR PARK SYSTEM

Post Measure D

PREMISE:

 With the potential election day failure of Measure D, on June 07, 2011, I, Gil Rasmussen, herewith submit what I consider to be a reasonable restructure of Wildomar’s Park system, with funding for its maintenance through volunteerism, based upon a currently working volunteer model, and a reasonable “reallocation” within the General Fund budget.

The dollar amounts utilized in this presentation are based on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2009-10. We acknowledge that the upcoming budget will likely reflect reduced allocations for certain categories. That being said, we believe that the overall suggestion is rational, reasonable and a far better proposal than to resort to universal closure of all of Wildomar’s parks.

This potential solution is not offered as a means to debate Measure D, but rather is a forward-looking suggestion to stimulate public discourse, should the measure fail.

STREAMLINE THE CURRENT PARK SYSTEM:

Windsong Park and Heritage Park are, in reality, little more than “tot lots” for the Windsong Valley and Heritage residential tracts. They don’t provide restroom facilities, or off-street parking, for any of its users.

Their inclusion in the Wildomar Park System is a holdover legacy from the old Ortega Trails Recreation & Parks District (“OTRPD”).

As a part of streamlining our current Park system, these small parks, which under normal circumstances, would have been maintained by local Homeowners Associations, should be removed from any future obligation to be maintained, on the part of the City of Wildomar, and be re-appointed to the care of the appropriate neighborhoods.

Each of these neighborhoods, can, in the future, have a localized election to create or amend their current Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District (“LLMD”) to reopen them, if the local homeowners choose to do so. 

Such a streamlining would leave only Marna O’Brien Park to be maintained as a “community” park.

The primary expenses to maintain Marna O’Brien involve landscape maintenance, restroom clean up and trash collection. In addition, there is the cost of utilities such as electricity and water, and security, which we will deal with a bit later.

VOLUNTEERISM, BASED UPON A WORKING MODEL:

Without any funding for Park for landscape maintenance, it has been proposed that there is no other alternative but to close the park down entirely. However, in my opinion, the current funding shortfall can be replaced by the efforts of volunteers, who most benefit from the existence of the parks. (i.e. sports leagues).

The opportunity for hundreds of youth to invest their labors into the maintenance of existing taxpayer-owned sports fields presents a real life training ground for young people to understand the value of everyone’s contributions in a community, such as Wildomar.

In exchange for access and utilization of taxpayer-owned sports fields, the various sports leagues can be organized in such a way that every athlete has an opportunity to “earn” that access for himself and his teammates

Due to safety concerns, any mechanical equipment would have to be operated by the adult leaders/officials of the various leagues. That being said, a scrub brush and a paper towel in the hands of a teenager being used to clean a restroom should present no safety concerns for most adults.

 Inasmuch as each of the leagues is generally required to provide their own General Liability Insurance to protect themselves, as well as protecting the City of Wildomar through Additional Insured Endorsements, any potential risk to the City of Wildomar is thereby successfully transferred to the insurance company for the sports league

Currently, the Wildomar Little League, which is permitted access to the taxpayer-owned properties of the Wildomar Cemetery District, maintains two baseball fields in such a manner, including landscaping maintenance, without any cost to the Cemetery District.

This has model of volunteerism has been successful for both entities for the past six years.

The benefit to the community of Wildomar would be for the ongoing access of citizens who do not participate in any organized sports leagues. The agreements between the city and the sports leagues would prohibit any exclusivity on the part of sports leagues.

UTILITIES:

Electricity for the past year at Marna O’Brien Park was budgeted at $21,000. It does not reflect a reduction proposed by Southern California Edison of approximately $8000, thanks to the thoughtful efforts of a local citizen, Gary Andre.

In addition, by eliminating the use of the sports lights for nighttime play, we should be able to reduce the electrical budget to approximately $10,500. If any particular sport, such as adult softball, wishes to play in the evening, a full and unsubsidized fee for electrical will be charged to the leagues, which should completely offset any additional expense incurred by their presence.

Water was budgeted at $39,190 for the past year. Given our local climate, it is unlikely that that number can be reduced and the park always faces the risk of some increase, based on hot weather. Therefore, for purposes of our suggestion, the water budget will remain at $39,190.

Security for the park, although not always effective, will remain at $1700. 

The total amount for the above three items is $64,480. 

REALLOCATION OF PARTICULAR BUDGET ITEMS:

Therefore, it is my suggestion that, for the current budget year, that “any and all allocations” within the budget for all travel and memberships for the City Council, City Manager, City Clerk, and City Administration be suspended for the upcoming budget year for a total savings of $48,500.

This suspension can be removed at any time, should city revenues increase as current economic conditions improve.

Such a reallocation would leave an approximate shortfall of $15,980.00, which if spread over 400 athletes, would amount to approximately $39.95 per athlete surcharge for the privilege of playing on Wildomar’s taxpayer-owned sports fields.

As an alternative, if the travel and membership allocation were only reduced by 50%, it would require a “per athlete” surcharge of approximately $100.58, which could be the basis for a “adopt an athlete” program for sports league supporters for “hardship” families, which could be an inter-generational benefit to the overall community of Wildomar.

As a comparison, Murrieta charges $130 for each individual athlete in their girl’s softball league. Plus, the teams are required to secure a commercial sponsor in the amount of $200 per team.

CONCLUSION:

These are line item choices that can be made within the anticipated budget, but only if elected officials are willing to embrace a different  manner or method with which to consider the relationship between parks and sports leagues in our community.

Respectfully submitted, 

Gil Rasmussen

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

Please keep your comments brief as I’m already exhausted from reading my own lengthy copy.

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