CARD “special” meeting – interesting discussion of CARD’s priorities

2 Apr

Whew, what a day. Like most of you, I have my routine, and that’s just another word for rut, so this morning I broke out of the house to a 9am  special meeting at Chico Area Recreation District HQ on Vallombrosa.  I have a bunch of time sensitive chores today, but I just decided, somebody has to watch these people. So, I got up early to do my house chores, I bolted my breakfast, and I mounted the old Raleigh Superbe and beat it for the CARD Center.

I was happy to see Rose there, and I’m looking forward to hearing her take on it. 

This meeting was noticed in yesterday’s Enterprise Record. According to Susan Wilson, the lady who spoke at League of Women Voter’s Brown Bag the Brown Act presentation, a special meeting can be called with 24 hours notice of the public, and notice only needs to be, literally, a notice pinned to the door of the building in which the meeting is to be held, 24 or more hours ahead. They noticed the newspaper, and Urseny decided to do a front page story about it. Wonderful! But, still woefully inadequate.

And I’m pretty sure Ms. Wilson said special meant emergency. The emergency nature of this meeting was not explained by anyone on the board. I’m sorry I didn’t ask – they don’t really answer my questions – like when I asked Jennifer Mariciales why the board meetings had been previously switched to Lakeside Pavilion, and she just said, because the board wanted them there. No reason, just, the board wanted them there. I think that’s evasive, but maybe I’m just a turd in the punch bowl.

This meeting was called by General Manager Steve Visconti. Maybe he really thinks there’s an emergency, but I don’t think it’s the kind of emergency, like a leaking pipe, that has to be discussed within 24 hours. This could just have easily been discussed at last months’ general board meeting, or at the meeting scheduled for later this month. They just went over a list of proposed projects, and talked about how they felt about each one, what priority, if any, to give each project. Turns out, this board has been entertaining a list of wants instead of paying attention to the district’s true needs. 

Visconti said, “with day-to-day operations, and all these projects, it’s really hard for staff, they are spread so thin…” He seemed to be trying to get them to come to their senses.  They seemed to be completely oblivious – is this why Jerry Haynes left?

The first wish on the list was the rose garden proposed for some years now by local resident Marilyn Warrens. Mrs. Warrens has put up $100,000 toward the project, and a couple of years ago, I actually thought that was adequate to dress the entire CARD center and half of Downtown Chico in rose bushes, but today the board unanimously approved (Lando absent) a $302,000 budget for 50 less rose bushes than originally planned. I think most of the money will go into the wrought iron fence that will eventually be used to keep the public out. This garden is meant to be a revenue source for CARD – pay to have your wedding or event in what used to be open to the public. I realize, the inside of the center has always been For Rent, but the outside has always been open to the public, who owns it and pays for it’s maintenance. Get ready for this.

If you enlarge the picture you see plans for 6 foot high fencing, with a 20 foot seat wall, enclosing the CARD center lawn, including part of the creek. where the design calls for removing trees.

If you enlarge the picture you see plans for 6 foot high fencing, with a 20 foot seat wall, enclosing the CARD center lawn, including part of the creek. where the design calls for removing trees.


The board listened to contractor Greg Melton and the unanimously approved this project. 

Next item on the list is a “pump track” – my kids built one in our back yard. It’s a dirt bike track. I was interested in this project, because it seems to have been given the go-ahead by the board, but as they were discussing it, aquatic center proponent and former CARD general manager Jerry Hughes motioned consultant/contractor Greg Melton to the hallway outside, asking him to talk about the aquatic center. I immediately grabbed my stuff and followed. This is the kind of meetings they’ve been having about this center, and I wanted to hear  what was really going on instead of what they were discussing in the board meetings. 

but now I’ve got more chores around the house, I’ll have to get back to you.



5 Responses to “CARD “special” meeting – interesting discussion of CARD’s priorities”

  1. Michael Jones April 2, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

    The rose garden proposal has been bouncing around forever. When I was on BPPC (for month)[about a dozen years ago], I asked Lando whether he thought it was a good idea and what about maintenance. He said he opposed the city accepting the gift because the maintenance would be never ending and cost far more over the decades than $100,000. But they never even hinted that they felt that way to Mrs. Warrens. Sometimes they say yes we love you, when they have no intention of following through. Refer to Caper Acres extravagant rebuild plan. I have to give Mrs Warrens a perseverance award for having stuck with all these years. Still, traditional roses are high maintenance, finicky plants. Maybe there are some new varieties ….

    • Juanita Sumner April 3, 2015 at 6:07 am #

      Well, Lando wasn’t there to voice those concerns. That’s another aspect of this “emergency” meeting that raises a question – one member couldn’t make it, to a really important discussion. This discussion could have been done at a board meeting, with Lando and more of the public present.

      I think the rose garden is a stupid idea, but they’re trying to turn it into a cash cow – you will have to pay to get into it to have your fancy wedding or event. That’s why they said they were paying over a million for the Pavilion, they said it would pay for itself, but as far as I know, it is very underused. I don’t know if it is used at all. The only mention I ever see of the Pavilion in the budget is the debt payments they make on it.

      For that matter, I don’t know if the CARD center is used for very much more than Pancakes for Peace. I live right near by, pass it regularly on weekends, and have not seen a wedding there for years, which is pretty hard to miss. I’ve been to weddings and other events there in years past – it’s a beautiful building with a great kitchen. They charge too much – about $100 an hour – to make it practical for the average family to use. If they’d lower that rate I believe that building would be used almost every weekend. People are having weddings at their homes and in the park without any permission because there’s no reasonable facilities to rent here in town. Manzanita Place is used a lot more often than either the CARD center or the Pavilion, I’m guessing the rates are far more affordable.

      Friends of mine theorize they are also trying to lock the bums out from the center – that they switched meetings to the Pavilion for the same reason. The CARD center has always attracted transients, and I also suspect this is one motivation behind the fence, the locking gates, etc. Melton said they’d be removing “non-native” trees from along the creek – I’m guessing that is also a move to get rid of bums. We better keep an eye on this project.

      Okay, now I’m going to be mean. I arrived at the CARD center on my bike about 15 minutes ahead of the meeting. As I walked toward the center, a car came rambling in, jumped into the handicapper space, bolting the curb – Mrs. Warrens. She startled me so badly I didn’t even say Hello as she got out of her death machine. People like her make me fear for my life when I’m out on my bike. Frankly, I think she handles her finances the way she handles a car – badly. I don’t have any respect for her “charity”, I think she’s just some sad lady who’s trying to buy herself some attention, who ends up costing the taxpayers $175,000, just for a start, to build a facility that will not be open to the public. She’s a tool. I wish her family would come and collect her.

  2. bob April 3, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    New rose gardens, a new acquatic center….this is all crazy talk.

    Don’t these fools know the city can’t even afford to maintain the parks, pool and infrastructure it already has and the city has a huge unfunded liabilities problem with pensions?

    • Juanita Sumner April 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

      CARD is in the same boat, and they’ve made huge payments toward their own pensions while laying off the part time staff who actually do the work.

      When I was leaving the meeting I picked up a flier for one of their most popular programs – “Junior Giants,” a program sponsored by the SF Giants and MLB. But, they are asking for volunteers to coach – somebody’s dad, or just some well-meaning person from the community, who may or may not have any real experience with children. Meanwhile, the General Manager of CARD makes over $100,000 year, plus benefits, for which they pay nothing. Let me repeat – nothing – we pick up the entire bill for their benefits. City and county workers actually pay toward theirs, albeit not enough, but the 33 or so full-time CARD management employees pay nothing.

      • bob April 3, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

        Well, I guess they never promised us a rose garden…just us having to pay for their cadillac benefits and salaries. 😦

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