The Riverside Registrar of Voters has certified the election results and Measure Z has passed. While that marks the end of a very long road to creating a funding source for our parks, it also marks the beginning of a new road toward developing and maintaining a park system that fits the needs of the community.
It’s not going to be easy to identify exactly how to achieve that goal. Part of the City Council’s job will be to review each of the parks and identify what physical improvements each of the existing parks could benefit from and then set priorities to match the budget.
The most important “To-do”, to most people in the community, is to define the “When”. Our new Parks Tax will not be collected until 2014. That’s quite a ways into the future. We have already seen how hard the non-profit “Friends for Wildomar Parks” has struggled to keep Marna O’Brien open, and has found only a limited success. Even with their hard work and good intentions they are currently thousands of dollars in debt to the utility companies. Leaving the park, solely in the hands of this non-profit doesn’t appear practical.
The City Council does have the option of temporarily funding parks until the park tax funding is available. A question that has come up in the community is, “Can the City Council borrow from their back-up fund to re-open the parks and pay that back over time from the Parks Tax”? While this sounds interesting and possibly a positive move, there is little doubt that the City Council will have their legal staff review this, in detail, and identify exactly what the state law says on the issue.
These issues will need to be addressed over the next couple of months and an initial set of goals identified to get the parks moving in the right direction, but don’t expect this to be a slam dunk. We will have Parks, We will have Events, We will have Activities, but we can’t expect City Council to rush this. The community has decided it does want parks, but we also understand the community wants to see this done correctly, even if it takes a little longer to get the plan just right.
Yes, Wildomar will have Parks, but that’s just the answer to the first question. I believe it’s important for the City Council to hear from the community on this issue. Please take the time to come to the next City Council meeting or send in your comments prior to the meeting.