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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 15th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 46

Santa Maria files leisure assessment, declines to adopt plan

By ZAC EZZONE

For the first time since 2013, the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department has completed an assessment reviewing how the community feels about existing park services and what changes residents would like to see. 


LEISURE NEEDS
Santa Maria City Council moved to file a report detailing the city’s parks and recreation needs, rather than pass a resolution adopting the plan.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM

Department Director Alexander Posada presented the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Leisure Needs Assessment and Action Plan at the City Council meeting on Jan. 7. He explained that the assessment is a flexible planning document the city can use when moving forward on future projects that includes input from more than 600 residents. 

“[This] is a snapshot in time of where the functions, operations, facilities of the Rec. and Parks Department are in the eyes of the community,” Posada said.

Despite this assessment serving as a flexible planning document, the City Council opted to only receive and file the document rather than pass a resolution adopting the plan. Councilmember Etta Waterfield raised concerns about parts of the assessment that detail the department rolling out a public art plan, which a full-time staff member would oversee.

The council discussed this public art plan at length in a December meeting, when it voted to adopt the plan but rejected a fee that would have funded the program. Waterfield said the leisure assessment makes it sound like the city is paying for the art plan through its general fund.

Similar to Waterfield, Mayor Alice Patino also raised concerns about adopting the assessment, given concerns over the public art plan and an extensive general plan update the city is conducting. She suggested the council file the assessment, but not adopt it, which would authorize Posada to begin implementing the plan.

“It’s a good direction; we just don’t want to be boxed in,” Patino said.

The assessment identifies services residents would like to see more of—including trails, pathways, and swimming pools—as well as ways residents said existing parks could improve, like with more lighting and restrooms. The department also identified key issues through this assessment, which GreenPlay LLC—a consultant from Colorado—completed. 

Recreation and Parks found that it collects about 12 percent of its operating costs through fees, which Posada said is a low number. As a result, the department will begin to look at ways to increase its revenue from fees while keeping in mind the limited budgets most families in the city live on.

“We need to look at fee structures and charges … so that we can get an idea of what is the tolerance level for fees,” Posada said. “It’s a balancing act.”

Councilmember Gloria Soto cast the lone vote against only filing the plan, as she instead wanted to see it implemented. She argued that adopting the plan would provide the city with a blueprint to work with when considering future park projects.

“This is just allowing us to get a real live snapshot of where we are and where we’re going,” Soto said. “Let’s use this to build our work around it.”









Weekly Poll
Should the county Public Health Department help elementary schools apply for the state’s waiver program?

Yes, that’s what the department is there for.
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Schools should have to fend for themselves; it shows whether they’re ready to handle reopening.

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