|Parks & Recreation Commission
January 22, 2004
City Council Chambers
734 Third Street
Brentwood, CA 94513
CALL TO ORDER: The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. by Chairperson Ernie Rodrigues.
ROLL CALL: Commissioners present along with Chairman Rodrigues were Commissioners Lanny Brown, Jan Melloni and Tom Jones. Others present included Craig Bronzan, Director of Parks and Recreation; Tammy Homan, Administrative Secretary; Janet Hansen, Park Planner; and Poldina Scherff, Recreation Services Manager.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance.
AGENDA REVIEW: No changes in the agenda.
CITIZEN COMMENTS: There were no citizen comments at this time.
Item No. 1 Approve minutes of regular meeting of December 18, 2003.
Item No. 2 Accept staff report from Parks Division. (B. Margesson)
Item No. 3 Accept staff project status report from Recreation Division. (P. Scherff)
Item No. 4 Accept project status report from Facilities Division. (M. Merizon)
Item No. 5 Accept letter from Ernie Rodrigues regarding schedule. (E. Rodrigues)
Commissioner Brown moved to accept the Consent Calendar as presented. Commissioner Melloni seconded the motion, motion carried unanimously.
Item No. 6 ACTION ITEM Update and recommendation to City Council on Oak Meadow Park.
(C. Bronzan/J. Hansen)
Chairperson Rodrigues introduced Director Bronzan to begin the discussion. Director Bronzan referred all those present to the memorandum and recommendation that had been handed out and was available to all present. He then covered the highlights of the memorandum and the history of the Oak Meadow Park. Mr. Bronzan said that following the discussion this evening and comments by the concerned citizens, this issue and the recommendations will be passed on to the City Council. In commenting on the history of the park he outlined the difficulties and delays in the project due to one company’s bankruptcy and described that another developer is now working on this park. He referred to the concerns raised by citizens living in the park area and referred to two meetings held recently with some of those citizens, staff members, and City Council member Ana Gutierrez.
The issues raised by these concerned citizens and neighbors were listed in the memorandum. Since that time Director Bronzan and staff, along with two Park and Recreation Commissioners participated in a “brainstorming session” with staff from Engineering, the Police Department, Community Development, City Council member Gutierrez, and others. The recommendations that came out of the meeting were also listed in the memorandum and also possible options. Nine recommendations were proposed along with nine possible options. Director Bronzan discussed these recommendations and options in full to the Commission and others present. Mr. Bronzan said all of these recommendations and options will be presented to the City Council at their meeting on February 10, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at 734 Third Street. He stressed that this item has the attention of the City Council members and those concerned citizens are certainly welcome to attend this meeting to express their concerns.
Chairperson Rodrigues then asked for comments from the citizens and following that would be asking for input from the Commissioners and staff.
Mr. Wayne Francis of Brentwood was the first speaker. He is a resident of the area where the park is being built. He said his main concerns that he feels have not been addressed adequately in the memorandum are the stadium lights and the lights being on until 11 p.m. He also said the problem with the park is a design issue. He said the park has a tremendous impact on the neighborhood. He said the community was sold to himself and his neighbors as a golf course community, and no mention of stadium lights and two baseball diamonds as well as a soccer field. He is also concerned that the lights are directly in front of his house as well as the public restrooms. Traffic is also a great concern for him and his neighbors and no overflow parking provided. He states the size and magnitude of great concern, that there is no other park within the City that is that large at this time. He emphasized the hours of occupation of the park is not acceptable. He feels that the police have not demonstrated the ability to monitor the activities well for such a large multi-use park. He also objects to the commercial venture of the concession stands, as he does not feel these appropriate for the residential neighborhood. Mr. Francis does not feel the recommendations and options would be satisfactory changes for the residents.
Chairperson Rodrigues asked Mr. Francis if he was speaking for all or part of the residents. Mr. Francis said he would not say he was speaking for all of the residents, but felt he was speaking for the majority of the residents. He has talked to a lot of the residents who could not be there at this meeting, however do plan to be at the City Council meeting.
Commissioner Jones asked Mr. Francis if “in the best of all possible worlds” what he would like the park to become. He would like a neighborhood park, some place for the younger children to play since with the magnitude of the sports now, there is no place for them.
The next resident to speak to the Commissioners was Avis Olson. She lives on the corner of Foothill and Chaparral Drive. She concurred with everything spoken by the previous resident. She also wanted to emphasize the scope of the impact of this park, the noise, the lights, and the traffic. She mentioned the number of the homes that are directly impacted by lights, traffic, and noise. She said the park being in a low area and homes surrounding on a high hilly area creates an amphitheater effect and the noise is magnified. She was quite concerned about traffic and side streets being used heavily and the safety issues this would cause.
Commissioner Jones asked her if she was aware of the school being planned for the area. She works for the School District and was aware of that, but was told that the park would just be a neighborhood park. She had a brochure with her which she passed around from the Country Club that showed it as a proposed park. No indication that it would be a community park.
The next speaker was James Fritts, Jr., also a resident of the immediate area. He expressed agreement with everything brought up by Mr. Francis and Ms. Olson and also wanted to point out concerns of safety and security of the neighborhood. With so many people coming and going he feels it will be difficult to tell the residents from the visitors. He feels they will have to take extra measures to close garages and keep much closer eyes on their children. He also commented where the neighbors near Balfour-Guthrie Park have the curb being painted red so there is no parking at any time, even for residents. He does not want to be restricted from parking in front of his own house. Director Bronzan responded that there is a fire hydrant where the curb is painted red as a precaution so that fire and emergency vehicles can find emergency parking. He also clarified that the resident near Balfour-Guthrie requested the entire curb area to be painted red.
The next speaker was Kenneth Taylor, a resident of Foothill Drive. He cited his reasons for moving to this golfing community away from Oakland and across from a football field to have a quieter, better quality of life. He objects strongly to the lights. He feels there is no need for the two parks so close together (Balfour-Guthrie and Oak Meadow). He feels it needs to be downsized and the lights removed.
The final speaker was Mark Claybrooks, also of the same area and cited the same story, had moved from Oakland, paid a premium and for a better quality of life and quieter community. Both he and his wife work long hours, spend a lot of time traveling to their jobs and want peace and quiet when they return home in the evening. He objects to the increased traffic, feels there is drug activity and other illegal activity. Mr. Claybrooks stressed concern for family and children with this type of activity. He also stressed the dropping of property values. He wants the park downsized tremendously, and feels his property tax dollars will go to the upkeep of the park and should have a voice where their money is being spent.
Commissioner Jones asked him if the nature of the park was disclosed at the time he bought the property, Mr. Claybrooks said it was not. He said he is a licensed real estate agent and this was not disclosed to him. He said he will be contacting his attorney on this issue.
Commissioner Melloni asked if any had contacted the City and what the City’s response was to this question.
Mr. Francis said he did approach the City when they knew the park was going in. He was one of the first residents to move into the development. He and other residents went to the Planning Dept. and asked what exactly was going in the area, where obviously construction was proceeding, but not a house. They were told it was designated as a park, but for details they needed to talk to Park and Recreation Department and were given Janet Hansen’s name. They did attempt to see her, however she was unavailable that day. They spoke to people at the front desk and asked for details on the park and were given one of the brochures, which is a fold-out map of the parks in the City, along with Janet’s business card. On the map, the park only numbered with no additional information as to the scope or size of the park. That did not follow-up until they spoke to a neighbor who told them what was proposed, and they were very astonished. This was in December and prior to the lights going up. They then went back to the Parks and Recreation Dept. and found the Winter/Spring Activities Guide that actually had a map or scale of what was going in. He felt there were two issues, one of the disclosure with the developers (more than one developer), and the other issue of the City approving the park and putting it in along with one of the builders. Commissioner Melloni asked them if they had pursued talking to Ms. Hansen or the City again later after the neighbor had told them of the park. He said after looking at the designs in other neighborhood parks, they felt it would be in the same category, so they had not attempted to contact her. They had already moved into the property.
Ms. Joan Winters, a resident of the Foothill area, said that she is concerned with the statement in the memorandum that when Sunset Park reopens, the use of Oak Meadow Park will be rolled back, possibly. She said what they were told is that it would be used as an overflow park, but as the City begins to grow there is no guarantee it won’t be continued to be used in the same capacity that it is being designed for at this time. She is not comfortable with a promise of “possibly”. This may not get as much use as after August when Sunset Park is opened. She is afraid once it is a “done deal” it may not change. She does not feel the problem with planning is something that they as residents of a golf community need to suffer for, and is borne on their backs. She further stated that those who live on the golf course paid quite a premium for their lots. With the golf course in the backyard and the park in their front yard, she indicated it decreases their property values. She feels this is very unfair and poor planning by the City.
At this time Chairperson Rodrigues turned to the Commissioners for input prior to the vote. He then asked Commissioner Brown for his input as well as Commissioner Melloni’s since they had been involved with the Commission for a longer period of time and worked on this project. Commissioner Brown said going back eleven years ago as a member of the Park District, before they had any input in this park at all, they had no idea what was going on with City parks. This was prior to the merger from the Brentwood Recreation and Park District to the City of Brentwood. Commissioner Brown said that prior to 1999 they had a Park and Recreation District, and all they dealt with was programming and maintenance of Sunset and one other small park. There was no park planning staff, only a full-time staff of four. In 1999 they merged with the City and that is when they started building City parks. They started working on this in 2000. He felt the whole development is a disaster, school and park both in the wrong spot and clubhouse on the golf course not well placed either. Both the school and the park of this size should have been placed on the outskirts. Mr. Wayne Francis’ response was that SunCal (the developer) may have screwed up the development, but he feels nothing goes into a new plan for development without City approval. This does not absolve the City in this development. He feels it is up to the City to rectify the problems and cited neighbors who are so very unhappy with the ball fields, lights, and traffic.
Commissioner Brown asked if there was any problem with the clubhouse placement. Citizens said there were no houses around the clubhouse; it is at the opposite end of the development, with a green belt and space in between. Commissioner Brown said he thought there will be a restaurant and bar at the clubhouse soon. He felt this is also an issue he has with people spending time at the bar and then driving down the hill. Residents felt this would be a police issue. Residents also indicated this is to be a members only and guests, not a public golf course which should curtail the traffic and should be an upscale version of the golf course. Golf is a quieter sport and would not attract that many people at any given time.
Commissioner Melloni remembered the meeting when this was brought before the Commission and the presentation made by the developer at the meeting. She said there was one or two hours of discussion because the Commissioners did not feel comfortable with the placement of the park. But, at the time they had to look at the community as a whole. She said there was more than one meeting on this subject and there were user groups that attended as well as people that used the playing fields, she did not remember any houses being built at that time. (Director Bronzan said there were none at that time). She further commented on the growth in the area and the number of other sports being played now and requesting areas or parks to bring their sports. Soccer and swimming along with other sports have seen a rapid growth in Brentwood. She equated this area to where she lives, near a school, park and no overflow parking available there either. She had visited the area when school was being let out and it is a nightmare, the development in her mind is as Commissioner Brown stated, not well planned at all. She feels bad for the residents, but knowing what they knew at the time, does not know what could have been done differently.
Commissioner Jones asked Director Bronzan about the planning at that time which was the perceived need of both youth and adult recreational fields. Was the thought at that time to try and go beyond Sunset Park and put something in the southwest quadrant of Brentwood . . . was that a consideration? Director Bronzan said that this is a design issue, but that the history at that time was for a master plan for some time for up to75,000 to 78,000 people. Since this development had 10 acres available it was essential to look at the use it could be put to in the growing community. It is needed at the build-out of the community. He discussed the possibility of turning off lights earlier after Sunset is open and also the probability that as the town ages, the youth and sports needs may change. It was looked at community-wide as one of the resources for the community, was to be built before the homes. The policy was to look at the community issues, including the Pony baseball, soccer and others were looked at, and if it is to be changed it will have to go before the City Council. What can be done now is to look at the options. From a staff position they must look at the past, since that is how the issue evolved, and ultimately the City Council will make the final decision on the best course of action. Commissioner Jones then said that the typical neighborhood park is five acres, this is ten acres and this should have been a dead give-away. Director Bronzan said not necessarily from a citizen’s view. Discussion included mention of the John Muir Medical facility, eventually a seven-story medical facility with a helicopter pad, and discussion of the zoning and surrounding use of this property.
Chairperson Rodrigues said the Commissioners at this meeting will take into consideration all the comments and the recommendations of the staff and vote on what is to be presented to the City Council. It will only be a recommendation and citizens will still have an opportunity to speak at the City Council meeting. Chairperson Rodrigues asked Ms. Scherff for input on the issue of the times for the use of lights and Sunday use. Ms. Scherff, Recreation Services Manager, said that to accommodate the leagues currently using the facilities Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights going until 11 p.m. Saturdays normally don’t have lights on as most leagues are done by then, and Sundays do have overflow for Pony leagues, sometimes makeup, and some also have games. Chairperson Rodrigues asked Director Bronzan about forming a committee for problems that arise in the community that can be addressed through the committee to accommodate the neighborhood. He would like a liaison committee to address problems before they get out of control. Director Bronzan said there are several options, one is to come to the Commission, another would be to call staff and another would be for the Commission and staff to have a liaison committee. Chairperson Rodrigues wants to protect the community and give them a voice. He also commented that he also lived next to a soccer field with 2000 kids plus playing and although it was noisy, he got used to it and felt it better than having them running out on the streets. He requested any more input from staff and Commissioners. Commissioner Jones stated that he has been out there several times and feels it is not a good situation.
Mr. Francis came again to speak and said one thing he wanted to make absolutely clear, and one thing that needs to be done is to try and bridge the gap between the neighbors and the Commission. It is not that the neighbors do not want children is the park. He feels all are in agreement with taking children off the street and providing parks. However, he does not feel you are discussing kids when you are talking about lights on at 11 p.m. Kids need to be off the streets, but after 7 or 8 o’clock at night they should be home doing homework or socializing with their family. Kids don’t need lights to be out there playing in someone’s community that late, and it is not a “kid issue”. Also, they (the residents in the area surrounding the park) are very much a part of the community also. He is concerned about how the homes were sold, they paid a premium to become a part of the community. He felt their issues and concerns should not be neglected for the greater good of someone else who can come in and destroy what they have invested in is not appropriate. He wants it “nipped in the bud” at this point, not through a liaison committee. He wants to start with the lights and work from there.
Mr. Mark Claybrooks, said he belongs to a church in Oakland that has over 7,000 members and is an elder in the church. He deals with youth all of the time and has coached basketball because he does not want the kids at risk. He did not feel that kids should be out at 11 p.m. He felt there should be activities indoors and home at reasonable hours.
Chairperson Rodrigues and Director Bronzan both expressed that they also do not want children out until 11 p.m. He also said the one question that concerned him was that once the Sunset Sports Complex is completed that much of this activity will be moved to that site. Some citizens expressed concern that this may not happen. Director Bronzan clarified this by saying that based on existing use, when Sunset opens the use of Oak Meadow can be moved to Sunset and would not be playing night games at Oak Meadow. However, not being able to control growth, there was not assurance that there would be a respite for one, five or ten years, since Oak Meadow was programmed as one of the build-out facilities. Commissioner Jones commented that in use or not, the light standards are ugly. Commissioner Melloni agreed. Commissioner Jones then asked if there are realistically 10-acre parks that the City may acquire in the future. Some that might be less onerous on an individual neighborhood. Director Bronzan said that there is not at the moment, within the City limits, a ten-acre site that the City has the ability to purchase. The county no-growth discussion on the urban limit line does not allow the City to expand. The City would have options if the City were allowed to expand, near the west border near where the high school is being built there is extra park space if the City limits are expanded. Chairperson Rodrigues asked Ms. Scherff when adult softball starts. She replied that they start at 6:30 to 6:45 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. They start the first week of April and go throughout the season, depending on rain, normally goes through April, May, June and July. July is playoffs, depending on rain. Then they go immediately into fall league depending on rain.
There was some further discussion on the baseball season, use of Sunset and issues with Pony baseball which is not run by the City with Director Bronzan. He explained what is available at Sunset when completed: 4 lighted soccer fields and 6 lighted baseball fields with another soccer overlay with a total of 11 lighted fields. He said it could be five or ten years before they outgrow Sunset, which is first use for sports. It really just depends on the growth of the City. There is an immediate need while Sunset is down and long-term need possibility. One option expressed was to make the Oak Meadow Park a “youth only” facility. This will have to be a City Council decision. Comment also that between Pony baseball, girls softball, and adult softball in heavy usage, especially from April to July, and now becoming almost year-round. There will also be additional requests for lacrosse and other sports as the community matures.
Mr. Francis then added a final comment that he would like to stay with the issue of the lights. He doesn’t want adult softball playing year round. He asked that they use the pool as a precedent. The aquatic park hours are limited. He wants issues kept in mind and accommodation for all citizens, or as many as possible.
Commissioner Jones called for the question. Chairperson Rodrigues asked one more question of Recreation Services Manager Scherff, regarding the time of 11 p.m. He felt that is an unreasonable time to have the park open. He said lights are out in his community by 10 p.m. She said this would be a consideration, but would mean having to cut back the teams existing at the present. There is no expansion now, just moving what they currently have and moving to Oak Meadow until Sunset is back up. Director Bronzan said that anything less that what is currently being offered would shut down programs in 2004 until Sunset Park Athletic Complex is finished.
Commissioner Jones asked about the expense involved in removal of the lights. This consideration was discussed by Director Bronzan. Commissioner Jones would like the lights moved out after the year of use and teams are moved back to Sunset Park. Janet Hansen, Park Planner commented on the lights, and said there was considerable cost on installation of the lights and did not feel the City could recoup any of those costs. They would have to be paid for again if lights are needed again in another location. Discussion of light removal and costs involved. Commissioner Melloni asked about the Sand Creek fields and could they be used for sports? Director Bronzan said this has not been funded as yet and issue of lights has not been addressed at that park.
Chairperson Rodrigues then said that the recommendation should have been read by all and also the fact that they have had opportunities to question the Director on some of the recommendations so Commissioners should now be prepared to vote. Commissioner Brown expressed his thoughts on the issue and then moved to pass the recommendation on to City Council. Commissioner Jones seconded the motion with the amendment that some concern be passed on to the City Council regarding the lights as a part of the recommendation. There was some discussion of this proposed amendment. Commissioner Brown accepted this amendment. Commissioner Melloni questioned what was the concern? Commissioner Jones said he would like to urge the City Council to make those lights non-permanent, and solve the immediate problem and consider removal of the lights to another location or disposal. This was clarified by Director Bronzan that they are approving the recommendations of staff 1-9, and urging consideration of two other options. Commissioner Jones agreed to this, he also commented that this in no way negates the work the staff has done on this subject. Chairperson Rodrigues called for the vote. Motion was carried on a 3 to 1 in favor of the motion. Commissioner Melloni opposed the motion.
Director Bronzan commented that this staff report will be attached and include the minutes of this meeting to the City Council staff report and will try to frame for the Council what the impact of that recommendation will be in the future. The meeting will be on February 10, and agenda will be on the website for the City, and include all staff reports. Hard copy can be obtained from the City Clerk’s office. Commissioner Jones assured the citizens he would be at the meeting and Commissioner Brown said that it will be on the Internet and can be watched by anyone, live on the web. Chairperson Rodrigues thanked everyone for coming and exercising their concerns for the Commission. The City Council meeting with this subject on the agenda will be Tuesday, February 10, and 7:00 p.m.
There was a 5 minute break taken at 8:45 p.m.
7. ACTION ITEM Election of officers. (C. Bronzan)
Chairperson Rodrigues called the meeting back to order at 8:53 p.m. Election was described by Director Bronzan, at the conclusion of the meeting, Vice Chairperson Lanny Brown would automatically move to Chairperson and at this meeting an election of the new Vice Chairperson must be held. This person would then automatically ascend to Chairperson at the January 2005 meeting. The prospective new Commissioner who had not yet been confirmed by the City Council was in the audience and was introduced to all staff and Commissioners by Director Bronzan. Her name is Sandra Myers and she will be sworn in the following Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at the City Council meeting. Commissioner Brown moved the nomination of Tom Jones as Vice Chairperson, motion seconded by Chairperson Rodrigues, motion carried. Commissioner Jones abstained from voting. Chairperson Rodrigues thanked them all for his year as Chairperson and Commissioners as well thanked him for his service and a good job.
8. DISCUSSION ITEM Verbal update on Sunset Park Athletic Complex and Balfour Road Park. (J. Hansen)
Ms. Hansen reported that Sunset Park is proceeding well, in spite of the rain delays. She said there are many more lights up than at Oak Meadow Park. There are 100 foot light poles in the Soccer Complex area. Grading and underground work are lagging due to weather. Electrical all coming along well, and have poured a significant amount of the concrete walkways that ring the perimeter. Some adjustments made to design. Recreation Services Manager Scherff has been involved in all the issues of concession stand, health and related issues in this phase. They are preparing to pour the foundations for the concession restroom buildings and concrete in the center of the wheel. Some minor grading remains to be done there as well. Still anticipating completion in July. Only 13 rain days to date and having drainage in has helped to clear the project.
Balfour Road Park has been cleared. Grubbing is done and there is some debris in piles. The weather did impact the site since there was no drainage in the park. Some soil has been imported to assist in contouring. Contouring of the park itself will assist the drainage in the future. Anticipated opening date for this park is June 2004. This will depend on how much wet weather is encountered.
CITIZENS COMMENTS: None
Park Planner Janet Hansen reported a Bicycle Subcommittee meeting on Monday, January 26, at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers. Commissioner Brown has informed her that he will not be able to attend and Chairperson Rodrigues is his backup, so would appreciate it if he could attend. The meeting generally runs from 7 to 9 p.m. She also gave a heads up to Commissioners Melloni and Brown that they will be called on to assist with playground structure equipment bids. RRM is working on this at this time. She will also be getting Sunset Subcommittee together for additional amenities recommendations for the balance of the funding for the project to be presented to City Council. Some being considered are for sod and dug-out covers. She should be calling for this meeting within the next couple of weeks.
Chairperson Rodrigues welcomed Sandra Myers aboard for the next meeting in February. He said he is looking forward to working with her.
Chairperson Rodrigues congratulated Director Bronzan on the state award, which was well deserved. He also referred to his letter included in the packet regarding the months he will be missing because of vacation schedule. He will be accepting email.
REQUEST FOR FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
Chairperson asked new Chairperson to go through duties for new Commissioner and possibly reassign some of them.
Travel arrangements for the conference are being made through Tammy Homan, Administrative Secretary. Packets will be available soon.
Commissioner Melloni suggested arranging another park tour in spring.
Director Bronzan said they also have funding for the NRPA Conference in October which will be in Reno. All will be able to attend this as well.
ADJOURNMENT: Chairperson Rodrigues adjourned the meeting at 9:16 p.m.
Betty Jo Whincup,
of Brentwood Park and Recreation Commission
35 Oak Street
Brentwood, CA 94513