Recreation groups vie for park money

By Karen Brainard

The $680,000 of Park Land Dedication Ordinance (PLDO) money earmarked for Ramona has various sports- and recreation-oriented organizations clamoring for the funds.

David Williams, vice president of Ramona Soccer League, tells the planning group that the league has contributed a lot of its own funds to the soccer fields and equipment. Sentinel photos/Karen Brainard

After hearing from several members of those organizations who sought to justify their needs for project funds, the Ramona Community Planning Group voted Nov. 7 to recommend the county release a portion of PLDO funds for three projects, based on the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation Subcommittee.

The three projects on the  seven-item Ramona PLDO Priority list proposed to receive funds are:

•Project 1: Amphitheater fencing, sod and seed. The amphitheater is in Ramona Community Park. Fencing is needed to keep off-roaders away from the area, and sod and seeding will allow the bowl area to be developed for family use. Funds requested: $27,500.

•Project 4: Girls Softball LED scoreboard. This project will focus on the purchase and installation of electric LED scoreboards on five fields. Funds requested: $40,000.

•Project 5: Girls and Boys Club tennis court conversion to basketball court. The project would convert one of two tennis courts at Collier Park to a basketball court, available to the public when not in basketball league use. Funds requested: $70,620.

RCPG member Jim Cooper, who is chair of the Parks and Rec Subcommittee, said the three projects are “essentially funded and ready to go.”

“We have very carefully marshalled the seven projects through the subcommittee,” said Cooper.

Jim Cooper, chair of the planning group’s Parks and Recreation Subcommittee, explains why some priority list projects are not recommended for PLDO funding at this time. Sentinel photos/Karen Brainard

He said the subcommittee believed the three projects were at or near shovel-ready completion and should receive funds now. The subcommittee is working with San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department, which reviews the projects and has the ultimate say. Cooper said he receives weekly status reports from the county.

Representatives for the priority list’s No. 2 project, Ramona soccer field expansion, and the No. 3 project, skateboard park development, spoke on the merits of their projects to emphasize their need for funding.

Concerned that funding could go toward one project, Becky Ocampo said Ramona Soccer League expects to have three more competitive teams next year with another 50 to 60 children and needs more field space. RSL is requesting $150,000 for the estimated $300,000 project.

Cooper, however, said that based on comments from the county, including that there is no design for the new field and information is missing, funds cannot be recommended at this time.

Nancy Roy, champion for the skateboard park, said kids have been waiting for years for such a facility, and many are now adults with children of their own “and still no skate park.” The skate park committee is requesting $90,000 for design. Construction is estimated at about $700,00.

“As the skate park champion for this project, I would like to make a recommendation that the current PLDO funds be held for construction of the skate park before any other projects lower on the PLDO priority list are funded,” said Roy. “I know this would be a very bold and courageous move by the Ramona Community Planning Group because I know other groups are waiting to fund their own project, too, but this project is so long overdue for our children and we may never have this opportunity again to fund this priority for a very long time.”

Cooper said the subcommittee considered funding for the  skateboard park but it was considered inappropriate at this time due to the county’s status report.

“There was considerable effort still needed for the skateboard park to bring it near a fully-funded picture,” he said. “That does not mean that isn’t a top priority for the subcommittee and it should not mean it isn’t top priority for this group.”

Planning group chair Jim Piva, who is also on the San Diego Country Estates Association Board, said a skateboard park for the Estates was in the works with a completed top-of-the-line design but the site for it can no longer be used due to new groundwater regulations. The designer/engineer is willing to donate the design and even expand it for the community skate park, he said. That could save the skate park committee about $90,000, he said.

Also speaking on behalf of a priority list project was Dean Welch, champion of the No. 6 Ramona High  School baseball/softball fencing and dugouts, with $100,000 requested.

Welch said the average high school dugout is 50 feet from home plate, but Ramona High’s is 35 feet.

“This is unbelievably unsafe,” he said.

RCPG members noted that projects 1, 4 and 5 only amount to about $140,000 and there will still be funds left.

“We want to be good stewards with this money,” said Piva, suggesting project champions also look for buy-ins and not just rely on PLDO funds.

“I think there should be enough to give everybody,” he said.

RCPG member Kevin Wallace was the only one opposing the recommended funding for projects 1, 4, and 5, saying the community needs a skate park. Members Barbara Jensen, Dennis Sprong and Torry Brean were absent.

If the three projects receive their funding, the other projects move up on the priority list. An eighth project was added to the list at the meeting — new playground equipment for Barnett Elementary School.

Related posts:

  1. Planners welcome parks and rec ideas
  2. Amphitheater, soccer, skateboard park top Ramona parks list
  3. Parent asks about park funding for school play structure
  4. Ramona Parents Coalition’s “Fact or Fiction” among upcoming meetings
  5. Committee opens door for parks and rec ideas

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Posted by Staff on Nov 12 2013. Filed under Featured Story, Government, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Comments for “Recreation groups vie for park money”

  1. Guest

    Great job to Mr. Cooper. I have been to several of these meetings and I have appreciated Mr. Cooper's straight forward conversations that were not politically motivated. He is helping to get what is best with the amount of Ramona has been allotted and will help to assure the we do not get a bad name by poor projects.
    Thanks you Mr. Cooper and the other hard working volunteers.

  2. REALLY?

    The comment from Guest must be Mr. Cooper or Mr. Piva.

    I went to this meeting and it was a total joke! These people are rude, incredibly unprofessional and clearly a bunch of cronies giving OUR PLDO money to THEIR friends.

    Mr. Piva said “ We want to be good stewards with this money”. WHAT A GIANT EGO! The committee is making a recommendation to the County. The County is the steward of OUR PLDO money. Total Joke!

  3. YES REALLY!

    The process was a total joke. Everyone that was disgusted by this disaster needs to write a letter to the County Parks and Recreation Department and call them at 858-694-3030 to complain.

    There is no leadership at the Ramona Planning Zoo. The $27,500 for grass seed and a fence for an amphitheather that no one wants is a total waste of money. There is no “shovel ready” amphitheather, that is just a lie.

    Also, Jim Piva knows that the skate park in the SDCE was a farce that was never going to be built. Submitting the same design for a completely different location does not even make sense! The funny thing is that Piva is the President of the Ramona Planning Disaster. HAHAHAHA!

  4. Alison Wright

    Amphitheater fencing, sod and seed is the top priority for Ramona? What criteria did this group use to dteremine an Amphitheater fence is more important than a skatepark or soccer?

    In my experience the planning group people are part of the good ol boy network. I bet the Amphitheater was a "favor" for an ol buddy.

    Our kids (grandkids) deserve better.

  5. innocent bystander

    I am totally confused by the methodology in which these decisions were made?

    Basically the county told the committee which projects they could pick based on "being funded and ready to go", but none of these projects are anywhere near breaking ground?

    Is there some numeric ranking that the committee can provide everyone? I would like to see why these projects were selected. Were they based soley on thier merit or were the decisions based on who you know.

  6. The initial ranking came from the Parks subcommittee, which averaged the individual ranking of each member to get a combined ranking. This list then went to the planning group, who made some small changes (move the skate park further up the list). Everyone has different opinions about what is most important and what better serves the community, so the list we ended up with is a result of that collaboration and compromise. I recall that the amphitheater project was at the top because it was the cheapest to do, and was ready to go immediately. Contrast that with several other projects which still need to find more funding, or get more approvals, before they can get started.

    This is exactly what caused some of the confusion that led to this being back on the agenda. The skate park has always enjoyed a lot of popular support, but historically has not made much actual progress in getting built. Recently however, progress has been made by local volunteers and it looks like a location has been found and a maintenance entity ready to run the park. This is great news, but there is still the issue of funding. The PLDO had only allocated around $90K for a skate park, with the idea that more funding would have to be secured from other sources. There is an option to change this approach, and allocate all the remaining PLDO funds to the Skate park (almost $700k). This would pretty much guarantee we get the skate park, but take away from other other organizations and their projects (scoreboard for girls softball, basketball court for Collier park, a new soccer field, new baseball dugouts, new playground equipment, and the amphitheater). The Planning Group decided not to take all the PLDO cash and give it to the skate part, but to keep holding on to the $90K that was allocated and move on down the list and get started on the projects that are ready to be funded immediately.

    Since I am a member of both groups, I should add that I do not speak for either the RCPG or the Parks subcommittee. I just wanted to add my 2 cents and try to answer a few of the questions brought up.

  7. Sad decisions

    Funding for the skate park has evaporated, once again, as we spend more money for grass seed, fencing, a basketball court for an unused tennis court. How about instead of piling money on top of projects that already have something built (ie soccer fields), give the skateboard park a chance to move forward. Reuse the plan from SDCEA and build something like a building block, adding more to the park as funds are available, instead of waiting for the whole package of money now. That giant half pipe Slappy’s Garage had up on Olive was built for quite a bit less than $50K and would give the kids a start. At one time, Jake and Jason offered to sell it for $10K to move it to a place it could more widely be used. Can you spare $10K, Mr. Piva?

  8. Excuses.Excuses

    So tired of the endless excuses for not building the skatepark.

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