Yeah, the park is still closed

6 Sep

I was on my way to the Economic Development committee meeting last week, late afternoon, and as I exited the park onto Vallombrosa Way,  getting off my bike to thread my way through a group of fat-assed park walkers standing directly in the gateway, a woman arrived at the locked gate in her car and just sat there, staring.


Why is this closed?” she demanded.


The other women, all of who seemed to have small credenzas taped onto their behinds, just stared back. I took my opportunity. “It’s closed because they spent all the park money on their $48 million unfunded pension liability…” Before I could finish that, she had shook her head and driven away. I don’t know if I was giving her too much info, or whether it truly disgusted her, but she left.   We’ll see what kind of outrage that sparks. 


How soon we forget.  Caper Acres Volunteers will be having a meeting on Monday at the Faith Lutheran Church on East First, 6:30 pm. They met last week with park management, Dan Efseaf and Ruben Martinez, as well as Lise Smith Peters, the volunteer coordinator, and we’ll see if there’s any fingerprints on their foreheads. I think they were told they could either join the regular Park Volunteers, or they could form a non-profit. Abigail Lopez seems pretty determined, but if I were her, I’d take a harder line with $taff, and join me at City Hall to picket the contract talks. We’ll see.


I asked Dan Efseaf about the park donation fund, he gave me the number of that fund so I could look it up. This is not a task to take lightly – drink seven cups of coffee and load your pockets with bread crumbs to leave you a little trail by which to get yourself out. I haven’t done it yet. But you may remember, when I looked into the Downtown Parking fund, I found they use over half of that to pay salaries and benefits, mostly for workers who don’t have anything to do with Downtown Parking. They pay for an entire police position out of that fund, over $100,000, and no, that cop is not “dedicated” to Downtown. He could very well be sleeping off a good beating over behind the Christian Science Reading Room on Palmetto. 


Oh yeah, we get some quality for these salaries, don’t we?


At last week’s Park Commission meeting, Efseaf mentioned repairs and maintenance needed at Caper Acres. Apparently, this is their excuse for closing Caper Acres – it’s “badly in need of repair,” and they don’t have the money to do it. Really? But they had the money to raise Efseaf’s salary by $20,000? And pay all but 4% of his pension? 


Efseaf lists some specific projects in his e-mail below, and makes vague references to more repairs. No cost estimates? What the hell does this guy do all day? Any workman could give you a cost estimate, come on Mr. $93,000 a year! Hey, I got an idea – why don’t they contact the contractors and other public volunteer organizations who did the Nico Project, who re-built the Crooked House from the foundation up, who rebuilt the tree house slide, etc. Local contractors like the Ritchie Brothers. I’m wondering if those people, given past experience, would work with city staff again. 


Dealing with our city staff is like dealing with a Repo Man – you have to be alert, all eyes and ears, and quick on the grab. “What’s right” doesn’t have anything to do with it – you have to be persistent, and you can’t ever be rude or the slightest bit belligerent, no matter how they treat you,  or they’ll use it as an excuse to cut you off.  It’s not a game for them, it’s a matter of money. They’re pretty damned ruthless, don’t forget who you’re dealing with. Egg stealers.


The entire park is a disaster. They’re trying to squeeze us, and they’ll do anything. They say they don’t have the staff to open the gates for us, but yesterday a giant garbage truck was trolling through the park. This used to be done by a guy or two guys in a city truck – you have to walk in and manually remove the bag. There’s no use to have a big garbage truck in there, and Nakamura himself has said these truck damage city streets, so what’s he doing sending them in there, with the park closed four days out of seven, to collect garbage sacks? 


This is mismanagement, pure and simple. And taking a salary for NOT doing your job is embezzlement as far as I’m concerned. 


Park manager Dan Efseaf’s e-mail answers to my questions posted below:

Ms. Sumner,

My contact information is below.  Here are some brief answers to your questions, let me know if you need anything else:
1)  What is that fund number?
I believe the fund number is 050-000-46001/xxxxx-000-3990, where the x’s represent the cost centers (one for Caper Acres, Park Improvements, Infrastructure, intern, trails and vegetation management).  This is also our 7th year participating in the Annie B’s Community Drive and they will accept donations on the City’s behalf at Each donation will receive a partial match.
2) …specific “infrastructural needs” and “projects” at Caper Acres, and I would like to know exactly what infrastructural projects he’s talking about, and I wonder if I could get a cost estimate on those projects/repairs.
Caper Acres has many infrastructure needs (the roof to the restroom leaks, the wood footings to Locksley castle are rotting (or have been removed), Bunker Hill requires considerable maintenance to meet playground standards, fencing, irrigation, etc.). 
We do not have a cost estimate right now; however, the Caper Acres Master Management Plan that I mentioned will kick off this fall.  After obtaining input from the community the plan will assess and prioritize needs.  The plan will provide a cost estimate for each feature or repair.  The plan will be completed in 2014, but input will start this late fall (probably with one of the Committees).


Daniel Efseaff | Park and Natural Resource Manager

Public Works Department | City of Chico


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