West Coyote Hills has now opened, and a plan for Union Pacific Park has been completed. Youth sports are almost done with their seasons, and in a few weeks, partner leagues will meet to allocate fields for use. The Tennis Center is operating and is fully booked seven days a week. The recent Star Wars-themed street market (May the 4th be with you!) was well-attended. The “My Littles and Me” program offers crafts for 2-5-year-olds, and Camp Hillcrest will operate in the summer for eight weeks. The food distribution program is back for seniors, and 20 iPads are available.
Maureen Milton inquired about the protocols for handling vendors not registered with the Street Market distributing newspapers or other products. Staff affirmed that roaming vendors are prohibited and would be monitored or referred to the free speech corner outside the market’s perimeter.
Commissioner Hallstrom inquired about the landscape report, wondering which trees had been planted for Arbor Day. Staff responded that they had planted sixteen trees, including coastal oaks, strawberry trees, and fir pines, while thirty-two trees have been taken down, including avocado trees on Glenwood. Staff stated that the trees were tested and that the hardwood in the center was rotten, constituting a safety hazard. The Commissioner wondered how the community is notified of tree removals. For example, door hangers are put out in residential neighborhoods, while in parks, a sign of pending removal is posted on the tree. The Commissioner suggests that a webpage with this information also be created.
The 2023-2024 budget that will be submitted to the council in June was presented. It has fourteen Parks and Rec staff positions allocated; currently, only eleven are filled.
There is an expected increase in money from the General Fund and revenue from Brea Dam.
Funding for city events such as Fourth of July and First Night is included, and a Maple Center Scholarship will be awarded to the YMCA. In addition, the department will eliminate three vans and a trailer and add a Public Relations Event Specialist position.
Parks such as Hillcrest, Gilbert, and Independence will receive overhauls, and Bastanchury playgrounds will be repaired. Exercise equipment will be installed at the top of the reservoir in Hillcrest Park. St. Jude’s has already donated similar equipment to low-income areas of town.
The Valencia Park basketball court will be repaired. Restrooms will be improved, and shade structures, tables, and benches will be replaced. Playground equipment will also be renovated, including upgrades for ADA compliance.
Independence Park will receive many improvements. The new playground will be more accessible, and the skate park will be reconfigured above ground and closer to the street, allowing the Fullerton PD to patrol more effectively. The old racquetball building will be renovated and the gym, built in 1976, will be improved. Safety measures for the maintenance of Independence Park were recommended, including a PA system and motion sensor cameras.
There was a suggestion that different designs be considered to replace the skate park, making it more usable for children and teens. Curtis Gamble proposed the creation of a Veterans’ Park, possibly next to Hunt Library. Maureen Milton wondered why the City was giving up vans. Staff responded that they are no longer serving as intended and that renting buses is more effective for transportation.
Commissioner Wehn inquired if there were preparations in advance for deficits.
The staff is applying for grants to increase revenue to cope with financial gaps. In addition, the operation of community centers has been turned over to non-profits such as OCUnited, the YMCA, and Cal State Fullerton.
Commissioner Lindstrom asked if corporate or private sector funds were available as well. Since the City is not a 501C3 entity, the grantor has no benefit. Since the non-profit Friends of the Library supports the City libraries, Lindstrom suggested that Parks and Rec might create a similar non-profit entity.
Staff explained that more staff would be needed to undergo this process as existing staff is stretched thin.
The Commissioner also shared comments she had received about uneven walking surfaces at Laguna Lake Park.
Staff explained that a grant created the perimeter trails in the early 2000s and that ADA does not apply to recreational trails. However, Public Works will check the conditions. Meanwhile, the traditional Fishing Derby is still being offered at the lake under the sponsorship of Supervisor Chaffee’s office.
In the future, Commissioners Meza and Hallstrom suggest that night hikes and community nature hikes be developed and offered around town.