CARD calls “special meeting” to prioritize projects – including aquatic center – tomorrow (Thursday), 9am, at the CARD center on Vallombrosa

1 Apr
Something I learned at the Brown Bag the Brown Act workshop I attended was that “special meetings” can be held to get around the notice requirements. They only need to notice them 24 hours in advance, and by “notice” I mean, they just have to post an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper on a door at the CARD center. In this case, for whatever reason, Laura Urseny picked it up and it was reported in the Enterprise Record. 
This is the story Urseny should have been doing months ago, but here it is. You’ll note, everything I’ve said is true, and then some. Chico Area Recreation District is strapped for money, can hardly meet obligations (like the $900,000 something owed on the Lakeside Pavilion) and, as Visconti himself admits, they have too many projects dangling in front of them, but the board  entertains anybody who wants to do anything. For example, they  really led the bocce ball club on,  they acted  as thought the bocce court was really going to happen.  In recent discussions they’ve agreed they can’t afford to keep the skateboard park open, it’s a crime problem, they want to turn it over to the city, but oh yeah, sure, let’s put a million or so into a bocce ball court, that sounds feasible folks.
I’m beginning to see why Haynes left – the board is out to lunch. Sometimes I think Tom Lando is trying to bring the rest of the board members around to sense, trying to tell them they are stretching the agency too thin with all these projects, but they ignore him.
And I also see a tug of war over who will pay for the studies regarding this aquatic center – in the beginning, the Aquajets, represented by Brad Geiss and a dozen or so unidentified “supporters,” said they would pay for this stuff. Now all the sudden CARD is paying for it, with money they get from our property taxes.  They’re still not being honest about the tax measure – you have to go to these meetings folks, and listen, you can’t get your news from the newspaper.
Proposed aquatic center, spending plan on CARD agenda

Chico >> Prioritizing a basketful of projects that are all on the front burner, plus an expenditure and a possible tax measure, are the reasons for a special meeting Thursday of the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board of directors.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at the Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave. It will be followed by the board’s annual tour of the facilities.

Acting General Manager Steve Visconti noted the board has accumulated a number of active projects, and coupled with the staff’s daily responsibilities, has become “a strain.” He’d like to find out what projects the board feels are most important.

Several of the projects include financial obligations, expenditures or amounts already budgeted by the board.

For example, CARD has been involved in a discussion about a proposed community aquatics center that has been part of its master plan. In its current budget, $30,000 has been set aside by the board for consulting services.

CARD has been asked by center supporters to pay for a feasibility study regarding the center. The study would “help the board decide the direction it would like to go,” according to a report by Visconti. The study would help the board clarify its involvement and how the center would be funded. Previously, the board has mentioned a possible a tax measure that CARD would put before the voters, among other options.

The staff is also working on an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan that would identify needed improvements throughout the district to meet the legal requirements. About $40,000 has been budgeted for a consultant to finish the plan.

Recently, CARD has been working on a proposed rose garden and event center utilizing a citizen’s donation of more than $100,000. A previous plan proposed at $482,000 has been scaled back, but the current staff is asking for a little more. The board asked for the project to stay in the $250,000 range, but staff has suggested an increase to $307,000 in belief the revised project could recover the extra costs more quickly.

Also on the board’s to-do list are a bicycle pump track, the Humboldt skate park, a second dog park, the update of the master plan, and new software that would replace current software for registration.

The bicycle pump track has $9,000 budgeted, which was reallocated from a security camera project at the skate park. The registration software “will no longer be supported” in 2016 and needs to be replace at a cost of $40,000 to $50,000, Visconti noted.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

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