Local News

City Seeks to Lease Some Public Facilities for Community Programs

The city of Fullerton announced on January 18 that it is seeking to lease several public buildings “for profit or non-profit partners to provide neighborhood services and/or operate recreation-based programs and services.”

“Qualified partners must have significant experience and demonstrate ability to provide successful and high- quality neighborhood services or recreation-based programs or services,” the online application says.

The facilities include:

• Gilbert Neighborhood Center

• Maple Neighborhood Center

• Orangethorpe Neighborhood Center

• Chapman Building (located in Chapman Park)

• Hillcrest Recreation Building

• Hillcrest Red Cross Building

• Independence Park Gym and Racquetball Courts

• Hillcrest Izaak Walton Cabin

• Lions Field Building

The City divides these buildings into two types for two kinds of uses:

1) Neighborhood Service Centers: Gilbert, Maple and Orangethorpe neighborhood service centers, which are located in disadvantaged communities. The City is seeking partners to provide neighborhood services and programming to their communities, according to the City’s website. “Programming includes youth and teen summer and after school programs, parenting classes, document and translation assistance, drug and alcohol prevention, and youth nutritional meal service,” the City’s website says.

2) Recreation Buildings: “Recreation buildings located in Chapman, Hillcrest, and Independence Parks and Lions Field are available to profit and non-profit partners interested in offering programs and services in the areas of art and culture, community services, education, events, food and beverage, health and wellness, recreation, sports and fitness, and youth programming.”

The decision to seek bids/leases on these facilities came from City Manager Ken Domer, not City Council, and the request for bids was placed on the City’s website just a few days after the City Manager terminated the employment contract of Parks and Recreation Director Hugo Curiel.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a number of Parks and Rec employee layoffs and temporary closures of many City facilities, such as the Fullerton Museum Center.

When asked about the City leasing facilities, newly-elected City Councilmember Fred Jung said he had not been consulted.

Likewise, Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Erik Wehn said the Commission was not informed, not consulted, and had no agenda items about this matter.

“I had no idea this was being considered or worked on and was completely blindsided by it,” Wehn told the Observer in an email.

“The Parks and Recreation Commission has not held a meeting since November of last year and has received no updates since then. There has been more than enough time to inform us and the lack of doing so seems negligent and suspicious,” Wehn wrote. “When similar RFPs have occurred in the past, such as Union Pacific Park, the Commission was informed and given the opportunity to comment and question. I don’t know why staff decided this particular project didn’t deserve the process and transparency that other similar projects historically have.”

This item will be on the agenda of the February 8 Parks and Rec Commission meeting.

City Manager Ken Domer told The Observer, “As the City continues to look at service levels given our financial resources, the solicitation is meant to generate the information needed to bring decisions to the City Council as to how to more effectively expend our resources in the next budget year. The goal is to provide the facilities for qualified community partners to deliver enhanced services that would allow the City to focus our scarce resources on things such as maintenance of the building or property.  We would look to reprogram full-time staff more efficiently and effectively…we will look to bring recommendations to the City Council around June, which corresponds with the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget adoption.”

To learn more about this visit the City website link HERE.

2 replies »

  1. I like the Hunt Branch model started out great because it was more democratic, but then it veered off. I want to know how this process was done according to the normal procedures. Where is the due process and transparency? Did it go through the Parks and Recreation Commission.

    • The Parks and Rec Commission was not consulted on this, according to Chairman Erik Wehn.