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Gloom Falls Over City Hall As Community Decides Fate Of Wildomar Parks

During the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, the public and council members weighed in on parks’ options should Measure D fail at the ballot box next month.

The tone at Wildomar City Hall was quite possibly more morose Wednesday night than it has ever been.

During the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, the public and council members weighed in on parks’ options should Measure D fail at the ballot box next month.

The city has maintained that if Measure D doesn’t pass on June 7, the city’s three parks will close. The Measure proposes a $28 annual parcel assessment to fund a Community Facilities District to oversee parks’ maintenance.

“The county spent $7 million (to improve our parks) and all we had to do was come up with $28,” Wildomar City Councilwoman Bridgette Moore said.

Her voice cracking with emotion, Moore added, “I have spent 11 years and my son has spent 11 years working on these parks. We’ll never have the money to open them again (if Measure D fails).”

“This is just a sad thing to talk about,” Mayor Pro Tem Ben Benoit said. “I don’t want to make any decisions tonight.”

Mayor Marsha Swanson also expressed sadness about the possible task facing the council.

“I don’t ever want to look at these options again," she said.

Those options put forth by city staff include selling one or all three of the city’s parks or leasing them, or simply holding on to the land in hopes that the parks can be reopened at a later time.

But council members were in no mood to make definitive plans.

Frustrated and emotional, Councilman Tim Walker said, “I’m planning on not making any of these decisions.”

Councilman Bob Cashman was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Nearly a dozen public comments were heard during the meeting. Most speakers passionately argued in favor of Measure D and advocated against selling the land should the June 7 ballot initiative fail.

“Losing the parks – we’ll lose a sense of community,” said longtime Wildomar resident Jerry Hall, who recently moved to Murrieta.

John Lloyd, chairman of the Wildomar Blue Ribbon Parks Advisory Committee, was diplomatic and to the point.

“We need to decide if we want to have parks as a citizenry,” he said. “If the answer is no, then we need to close the parks. I really hope we don’t get there.”

The advisory committee was formed to provide input to the city on how best to proceed with the parks. Earlier this year the committee presented the City Council with the idea of the tax initiative and a special election, and council members unanimously voted in favor of putting the Measure to the voters on June 7.

As recent as last year the city had an assessment in place, but a lawsuit by Wildomar resident Steve Beutz challenged the legality of the tax. In 2010, the courts ruled in Beutz’s favor and the assessment was invalidated.

Several speakers chastised an alternative parks proposal put forth by Wildomar resident Gil Rasmussen. The proposal advocates for closing down Heritage and Windsong parks due to budget constraints, and supports keeping Marna O’Brien open by using volunteers to maintain the facilities. A similar model is used at Como Park, which is part of the Wildomar Cemetery District.

Rasmussen sits on the cemetery district’s board of directors.

Under an agreement with the district, Wildomar Little League built baseball fields on 3 acres of unused cemetery land. League volunteers maintain the fields.

But Tim Underdown, president of Wildomar Little League, vehemently criticized Rasmussen’s proposal.

“As president of Wildomar Little League, it’s a battle to keep volunteers to maintain what we have behind the cemetery,” he said.

Rasmussen was on hand during the meeting. He addressed the board but did not get into the specifics of his proposal because he said the details were discussed during .

 

T May 27, 2011 at 06:25 AM
The Wildomar City Counsel dropped the bond measure. If they want to come back and put it to the vote of the people they have that right, that doesn't mean we have to pass it. We can fight that battle when/IF it happens. One of the main reasons this measure will tax most every parcel in the city is because of the legal battle over the last assessment. That is the reason the dollar amount doubles, it isn't doubling the amount of the tax per parcel. Martha, if you researched this type of tax for over a year you choose NOW, after it is up for vote to press against it? Yes I read your 3 page letter to the city. Someone please correct me if I am wrong but wasn't the last assessment over turned by the court on NOT what Steve filed in his suit but by what a judge discovered? If so he got lucky. Do I think Steve paid for that out of his own pocket, NOPE. Just like his fighting Measure D now, he isn't stating who/where he is getting his money. If those fighting Measure D want an open and honest City Counsel then do the same and open up your books. Waiting until after the election and getting a slap on the wrist isn't the way it should be done.
T May 27, 2011 at 06:31 AM
Kay, have you not been to Marna? There isn't a way to have someone collect "user fees" from everyone that goes there without spending more money on park construction. You would have to at least fence off the park right at the parking lot and funnel everyone by a window to pay to go inside. Also you now have to hire employees to collect the fee. Spending money on that isn't the best plan, don't you agree? By the way, anyone that uses the park now for any activity that lives outside of Wildomar pays extra, that goes for football, Little League and the adult softball. That is to say any activity that pays to use the park. That is how it works with any city around here.
Ken Mayes May 27, 2011 at 05:09 PM
This is to be found in the agenda packet for the city of wildomar dated March 7, 2011 Annual Escalation of Special Taxes For both Assigned Special Tax A and Maximum Special A Tax Rates, beginning March 1, 2012 and each March 1 thereafter, the Maximum Special Taxes that may be levied on each Assessor’s Parcel shall be the Maximum Special Taxes for the previous Fiscal Year increased by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (All Items) for Los Angeles - Riverside - Orange County (1982-84 = 100) since the beginning of the preceding Fiscal Year. (Currently that number is 3.3 percent over last year) Also in that packet is stated that this tax can be used for park maintenance as well as park programs, in the election material distributed by the county there is only mention of park maintenance. Never in all the years that I have been voting have I seen election material that does not include the full text of the measure. Who the hell is hiding the truth.
Ken Mayes May 27, 2011 at 05:48 PM
I find it real funny that both sides when faced with the facts start name calling. An by the way the only thing I have given is my opinion.
Scott Bradstreet May 27, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Tanya and Kay, Thank you for thinking creatively about options for running the parks. The YES ON PARKS team appreciates your open minds to problem solving. I have 20 years of parks and community facilities development experience and can honestly say that it would be impossible to count on user fees and to rally volunteers to handle $200,000 a year in maintenance and operations. It has been a mammoth task for John and all of us to just try to talk to people in the community. We just want to share the facts, but people are understandingly fearful and confused. When I was a park planner for the City of Carlsbad, we used volunteers to do small projects and it was very tough to get them out, unless they had a vested political or business interest. The reality of user fees is that it requires employees to manage such a program and we can't afford that. When I've studied other city's public-private partnerships, there are few cities that can do this. The big problem is it gives control away from the city staff and citizens. The one city that has such a park is San Clemente. However, it is only an adult sportspark, and the public does not get to use it. San Clemente has many other public parks, so a user fee sports park is acceptable. We need public sports facilities and passive recreation for our children. Not all kids play competitive sports. User fees and volunteers won't work. PLEASE VOTE YES ON D
Tina Tyra May 27, 2011 at 06:29 PM
According to Martha's rationale, since more properties are being included (due directly to Steve's lawsuit), that somehow doubles the tax. The only thing more skewed than the numbers she presents is her own thinking.
Tina Tyra May 27, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Martha is just replacing one lie with another. That's their method of influencing voters. I hope the city opts to sue for the purposeful hijacking of the vote with the lies in the voter guide. They call their organization "stop the money grab". The other side should be "stop the lies".
Tina Tyra May 27, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Amen, Tom. Everything you said is spot on.
Tina Tyra May 27, 2011 at 06:41 PM
That's right Ken, no facts -- just opinion. You are either being hoodwinked big time or someone owns you. I find it quite amusing that you are so intent on backing these people who aren't transparent. What have any of them (or you, for that matter) done for our community? If you'd like I can provide a very long list of what our elected officials have done, before and during their tenure on the council. Something in Wildomar stinks and there are a handful of people who know what it is. Lies, cover-ups, and deceit are the basis for the "no" campaign. I wonder why. It will come out.
Ken Mayes May 27, 2011 at 07:51 PM
I haven't done a damn thing for this community, when I moved here it was in the county and I moved here to be left alone. You want fact I gave you fact three post ago on how much this tax will increase every year, which by the way comes from printed material by you own city council that is available to anyone who cares to look it up. The number you gave 1.2 percent with council approval is completely false (an absolute bold-face lie). The tax the first year is only 23.00 per benefit unit because they have no established programs that could have been used to calculate it out to the full 28.00, wait till next year. This whole set-up is starting to smell like Ortega Trails.
Tina Tyra May 27, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Your first line says it all. And, speaking of trails....It's interesting that Marna O'Brien park was designated as a National Forest Staging area for our trails...and who is the chairman of the trails committee? Yeah, Martha. Seems like she has a little conflict of interest there. Maybe they should pick a new chairman. If you moved here to be left alone, it seems odd that you would be so adamantly political and outspoken. Most of us moved here to have a quiet rural life and give children a nice place to grow up. If you want to change your ways and actually DO something for your community, come on out and join us tomorrow as we Rally for the Parks. We'll be walking from Wildomar Elementary School to Windsong park for a nice BBQ...and voting YES to save our parks.
Ken Mayes May 27, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Keep walking. You still haven't answered my question of where you came up with your numbers and it looks like you can't back them up with fact, ignoring me is not going to make the lie go away. I am so outspoken about taxes because being a California Native I can remember the time many people in this state where losing the homes they had paid off because the could not afford the ever increasing taxes to pay for everybody's wants. At that time there was a tax revolt called Prop 13. Many people moved out here because they could get a house cheap and they planned on flipping it after a few years and going back where they came from, guess what, now there stuck here. When I bought here I bought for life, this is where I will die some day, some of you'all hope sooner than later. Speaking of trails, the county has a regional system that goes no where near the park, it runs down Union St. between Wesley and Gruwell St., the balance follows the flood control channel east paralleling Palomar to Clinton Keith, with another portion going up into the hills to the Wildomar Truck Trail. How do I know, the county tried to ignore it when they built houses around me and I was the only one at the planning meeting questioning them as to why it was not included in the developer's plan at which time they shoved that portion into more of the flood control channel. Don't believe me go look at the regional trails map at the county office.
Tina Tyra May 27, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Wow you sound like a bitter man, Ken. You can complain about the county all you want, but we have to focus on the problem at hand and that involves our city. I'm not sure what you're referring to, but I do know that the last $28 we voted on had the CPI clause too and it NEVER went up in 5 years. neither the county nor the city ever increased it one penny! But you are out there saying it will continue to increase. The best predictor of the future is the past. That tells me a number of things; The fees won't go up, the people in the community who don't contribute will always argue, the people who have been proven liars will continue to lie and point the finger and, we WILL fight to save our parks as we have done for years.
Catie May 28, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Ken If you bought your home here for life then start living. Quit being a fuddy duddy and get out into our community. It's a nice place to be! Honor our troops who gave their lives for OUR COMMUNITY! VOTE YES ON D
Ken Mayes May 28, 2011 at 02:14 PM
More name calling and lies. 1. The previous tax that was ruled illegal by the courts did not have a inflation escalator. Much like the Ortega Trails taxes the only way to raise it was to go back to the voters. 2. If you read my previous post in which I showed you that portion of Measure D that speaks to the annual increases you will note that this increase is automatic. The city council was devious enough to take themselves out of the equation. 3. As to knowing any of people who have posted on hear or elsewhere, sorry don't know a single one. As I have stated previously all the opinions are mine and mine only. 4. As far as participating in your community the only involvement I have is that which is forced upon me by all these taxes for your wants. 5. And young lady my grandfather, father,myself and my brother have done time in the service starting back in WWI through Iraq and not once did we fight to defend America, no one attacked us, its always been about the money.
Catie May 28, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Wow you must do some more research because America has most certainly been attacked..... And the men and women who sacrifice for you to spew your disrespectful comments did it with honor. Shame on you for disrespecting them.
Gene Trosper May 28, 2011 at 08:34 PM
"It is very clear that Mr trosper does not believe Wildomar needs parks. " -- thus sayeth John Lloyd. Breaking news, Mr. Lloyd: I have nothing against parks. However, I am fully against forcing people (especially in times of economic need for famlies) to pay for the desires of a MINORITY of citizens. The issue isn't about parks. It's always been about a small group of citizens attempting to subsidize their desires at the cost of others. When someone's family budget is being threatened, of course the expected response is to defend one's family budget. This isn't Ozzie and Harriet Nelson-land, where everything works like a well oiled machine and golly, everything's just so bright, happy, and hunky-dory. People are suffering. People are losing their jobs and homes. When people are begging for gasoline at gas stations, you know things aren't right in this world...yet some are so arrogant as to DEMAND that these suffering people pony up to subsidize a small minority. I agree: parks are important -- for those who use them. I know of nobody that harbors ill feelings of doom toward parks, including myself. Thanks for the silly assumption on your part, Mr. Lloyd. If anyone told you I didn't like parks, then maybe you need better information.
Tina Tyra May 30, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Ken, you are just wrong. There is no provision for this tax to go up automatically. It takes a vote of the city council and it would be an agenda item with community members and property owners allowed to weigh in. In fact, it can (and will) go down. If you'd care to do your homework and discuss it with them personally, I would be happy to put you in touch. They have already said that the initial tax would be only $23.00 a year. Not sure to whom you are referring because there was no name calling from this direction (believe me when I say I have restrained myself). As for complaining about us not being attacked, you need to study your history a little better. The roots of terrorism are all over the Middle East. And, since Viet Nam there has not been a draft, so no one forced anyone in your family to sign up and go to Iraq, although I am personally grateful for that sacrifice. However, that was strictly voluntary. Maybe you should worry more about Iran's efforts to obtain the means to deliver their nuclear weapons to our soil (which they are activity doing) than whether the kids in our community should be denied parks. Thanks to everyone who came out to the Rally on Saturday. YES on Parks.
michael June 08, 2011 at 08:59 AM
Gene Trosper "I read Mr. Rasmussen's proposal and think it's an excellent step toward saving the parks should Measure D fail. It's quite telling that it appears those who supposedly love community parks so much, they won't volunteer and put in some old fashioned elbow grease to keep them open. Instead, the council and others seem prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater in a cynical attempt to scare voters into approving a new tax." ARE YOU KIDDING ME! DO NOT INSINUATE THAT THE SUPPORTERS OF MEASURE D INCLUDING MYSELF WOULD NOT VOLUNTEER! you have absolutley no idea how much time and effort all of us have put into trying to keep the parks open! because i know myself would do it bryan, bridgette, jerry, john, kristan, and so many others would gladly do that but really do you know how much work that would be how much money that would require? no you obiously do not!!! would you be out there I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT, along with any of the others who suggested this oh ya maybe once a month pfffff! plain and simple all you think that martha and steve did it for their noble little reasons bull they will find other things and sue again and again
Gene Trosper June 08, 2011 at 11:22 AM
I'm not insinuating. I'm restating what some have publicly said. Whatever the motivations of Martha Bridges and Steve Beutz are is immaterial to me. In the end, 2/3 of Wildomar's voters rejected the tax for their own reasons. That's what matters. Martha and Steve were just two votes out of 1,674 NO votes, so stop blaming them. Go ahead and blame me and the other voters. I'm sure we can handle it.
Gene Trosper June 08, 2011 at 12:48 PM
I also wiash to point out that a little over a week ago, I saw Gil Rasmussen while I was walking into Stater Brothers over on Clinton Keith. I offered to volunteer (if he needed me) regarding the ballfield the cemetery district oversees. So, unless you KNOW me, don't make silly assumptions as to what I would or would not do.
T June 08, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Gene - "I offered to volunteer (if he needed me) regarding the ballfield the cemetery district oversees" REALLY? The Cemetery District OVER SEES? You mean the one that Wildomar Little League takes care of? WLL leases that site and is in charge of it's upkeep with volunteers. As you see that doesn't always go as planned. If you want to help pull weeds or pick up trash let me know or visit the league web site at www.wildomarlittleleague.org and email anyone of the board members and we will gladly take your help.
T June 08, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Gene- do the math again please. 2/3 of the votes did NOT reject the measure. Measure D did not get the 2/3 super majority. This is the failed logic those backing its downfall used to defeat it. As of my last look on the county site Yes votes were just over 55%.
Gene Trosper June 08, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Once my wife starts feeling better, I will definitely get in contact.
Gene Trosper June 08, 2011 at 02:59 PM
The 2/3 reference was a typo on my part. It was in reference to something else which I thought I had deleted when I went to rewrite my post. My bad.
michael June 08, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Gene no one is calling you an idiot! But the idea of maintaining marna o' brien with volunteering is unreal! How can you say not to assume you would not volunteer, when you did the same thing about the proponents!
Gene Trosper June 08, 2011 at 11:04 PM
I have heard many names from the pro-tax side. today, I was sent a screenshot from the Measure D Facebook page where someone says "we should have never been voting to keep are [sic] parks open we should have been voting to run these two people clean out of town." This isn't the only example either. While some of us on the NO side have been rightly critical, I cannot point to a single instance where we have said such things like "let's run them out of town". Isn't that special? You think volunteering is unrealistic? I have recently described numerous youth leagues across the country which utilize fields that do NOT receive a single taxpayer penny. They rely on contributions and volunteers to make things work -- and they do. Why do some think that Wildomar is exempt from seeking out contributions, sponsors, or volunteers? The Walnut Creek Little League in Iowa manages just fine and states on the "about us" page of their website http://www.wcllia.com/ , that "The league is run solely by volunteers." How about the Pierson Bark Park, which is privately owned?http://www.piersonbarkparks.com/ Then, there is the Banks Sunset Park, which is "a privately owned park ran by volunteers working to better the community" and is "completely funded by activities hosted at the park." http://bankssunsetpark.com/Banks_Sunset_Park/Home.html There are numerous examples if one takes the time to find them. I'll ask this question once again: if they can do it, why not Wildomar?
Scott Bradstreet June 09, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Gene, your knowledge of park operations is either pure ignorance or another ANTI-PARKS confusion ploy. The three examples given are not in anyway relevant comparisons to Wildomar parks. Example One, Walnut Creek Little League: The website link doesn't even work. But even if it did, "The league is run solely by volunteers" means the LEAGUE, not the PARK. There is little to no cost in running league programs, that's why volunteer groups all over the country do. The cost is in maintenance: irrigation, mowing, trimming, fertilizing, repairing equipment, etc. Also, the irrigation cost in Wildomar is a lot more expensive than it is in Iowa, just look at your home water bill in July. Example Two, Pierson Bark Park: This is a dog park and not a community sports park. It serves only the dog owners. And once again, this is in not in southern California, its in Indiana, where grass grow naturally without irrigation. Example Three, Banks Sunset Park: I had a look at the website. When you quote, "a privately owned park ran by volunteers working to better the community" and "is completely funded by activities hosted at the park," you conveniently leave out that "The membership generally consists of people in good standing who pay dues on a yearly basis." This park has PROGRAMS run by the community NOT the maintenance. Park operations are more than just running programs. That is why it costs $200,000 per year. Oh, this park is in Oregon too. Nice green place with lots of rain.
Gene Trosper June 09, 2011 at 01:25 PM
In each case, the land is OWNED by the organization. Do some research. Google is your friend. You know what I think? I think some (but not all) of the pro-tax people would rather sit back and make EVERYONE pay instead of walking your talk of supporting parks. You want to save the parks? think outside the box for once. It's quite telling that those who chant "parks, parks, parks" are unwilling to put in the time and labor to help ensure at least one park exists. Form a non-profit organization...something that can continue the parks for those who use the parks. Are you saying there is not enough people to support the parks with their own money and time? If so, then the pro-tax supporters are insincere about keeping parks open. I've offered examples and alternatives which CAN work, but you reject it. Ultimately, if these parks disappear, it will be because of your stubborn refusal to even seriously investigate alternatives. I would hope some of the Measure D folk are open minded and sincere enough to investigate and put in the effort. Are you willing to walk your pro-park talk to keep parks open on a voluntary basis by chipping in either some money or time? Or are you just all talk? Come on, the ball is in your court. Until such time as you become serious about it, I no longer have any reason to keep this particular conversation going with you. For those who are truly interested, I'm willing to talk with them.
Martha L. Bridges June 09, 2011 at 03:17 PM
We have heard over and over again from Measure "D" pro-tax supporters that only a handful of people here in Wildomar opposed this poorly conceived new tax. We have heard that the pro-tax crowd alone represented the "community" of Wildomar, and that the parks were so very important to everyone. Well, the numbers are in folks, the votes have been counted, and the totals have been published for all to see. Even with all the time, energy and money that Citizens for Wildomar Parks poured into their campaign, there was no huge majority in favor of this terrible Mello-Roos based tax. There was no 2/3 mandate from the voters. 1808 people voted no, and way more than 9,000 registered Wildomar voters didn't care enough about the parks to vote at all. Measure D- City of Wildomar Vote Count Percent YES = 2,263 55.59% NO = 1,808 44.41% Total 4,071 100.00% Wildomar lived through this bitter type of election before when voters refused to support a former parks tax proposal. Their reasons for voting no back in the day were widely varied, but the message they delivered was clear then as well as now. Voters wanted no more special taxes, and especially no more expansion of parks' programs at taxpayers expense. Those people who sincerely care about the parks will find options to keep our one real community park open. There are always options and hopefully the council and parks supporters are now be willing to look at those options seriously.

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