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Parks commission looks to refine their mission

POSTED March 12, 2010 10:21 p.m.
Parks, Recreation and Community commissioners approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to review the commission’s by-laws, but stopped short of agreeing to an increase from seven to 14 members at their Wednesday night meeting.
Turlock City Councilwoman Mary Jackson had proposed the membership increase during the public comment portion of the commission’s February meeting. The PRCC commissioners then went on to discuss the concept at that time, despite it not being an agendized topic, in possible violation of Brown Act governmental transparency guidelines.
When the item came back up on Wednesday’s agenda, commissioners saw no benefit to the proposed membership increase during their formal discussion.
Jackson, who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, argued in February that the larger commission would be better able to meet quorum and allow more interested locals to become involved in the city’s parks and recreation.
PRCC Commissioner Angela Bruce-Raeburn disagreed with the logic, arguing that if the commission had troubles getting four members to show up to meet the current quorum, then getting eight for the larger commission would be even more difficult. The Turlock City Arts Commission, which has 15 members, did not meet quorum for their Thursday meeting.
The PRCC does intend to address their quorum issues by better enforcing their current attendance policy, which allows only two unexcused absences before dismissal. The PRCC also called on Mayor John Lazar to appoint a commissioner to the vacant seventh commission seat, which has sat empty for several months.
With no interest in expanding the commission, the ad hoc sub committee, consisting of commissioners Bruce-Raeburn and Barney Gordon will instead look to update the 2003 resolution which formed the commission to better reflect the commission’s current responsibilities. The resolution still calls for the PRCC to deal with issues such as animal services, neighborhood services, crime prevention, and refers to the commission as the Neighborhood Services Commission, a name which the commission abandoned in 2008.
“It’s time to clean it up, streamline it, and get back to the original charge of parks and recreation,” said Commission Chairman Brent Bohlender.

Potential locations narrowed for new dog park
Parks, Recreation and Community commissioners refined a list of sites for a possible second dog park from four to two on Wednesday, stating a preference for sites off East Taylor Road and East Hawkeye Avenue.
The four sites commissioners considered were all located inside of existing City of Turlock storm basins, which are turfed and used as parks when not storing storm water. The sites were also all considered as possible dog park locations previous to the selection of Sunnyview Park for the current dog park.
The Taylor Road site, which gained the most support from commissioners, is currently a linear park, not large enough to accommodate ball sports, in the far northeast corner of Turlock. The park is surrounded by an unbuilt subdivision, and is currently being used as a de facto dog park, according to commissioners.
The East Hawkeye Avenue site, a storm basin at the corner of Hawkeye and North Quincy Road, has earned staff approval for offering good parking and a minimal impact on adjacent homes. The site garnered heavy community opposition during research for the first dog park, however, but given the glowing reviews of the Sunnyview dog park, staff remains optimistic about neighbors’ reception in the second go-round.
Municipal Services staff will now send out notices to residents within 1,000 feet of the two proposed sites and host a meeting to receive public comment before deciding on a site.
Commissioners ruled out two potential sites on Wednesday, the North Walnut Road and Duquesne Way storm basin and Summerfair Park, as both are currently in heavy use as community parks. Summerfair Park also presented operational problems, according to Municipal Services Director Dan Madden, as the park is a primary storm basin in winter months, limiting usage as a dog park.

Bike Park work day on Sunday
Turlock’s BMX Bike Park will host a work day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, where volunteers are invited to help move dirt around to improve the jumps.
Workers will need to complete a waiver form prior to assisting in the work day for liability purposes.
According to Municipal Services Director Dan Madden, the event will be focused on modifying the more advanced jumps as part of continuing efforts to improve the park for riders. Many local BMX riders had expressed disappointed upon the park’s initial, soft opening that the dirt jump design made the park dangerous and prevented riders from jumping properly.
Madden also announced that a grand opening celebration will likely be held in April, following the course revisions.

Columbia Park water feature on track
Infrastructure is rapidly rising from the ground for Columbia Park’s new water park — similar to the existing water feature at Broadway Park — and a completion date of May 1 is still expected.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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