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Escuela gate

The Escuela gate is flanked by existing Stonehouse Park sports fields on the right and a new field, being watered to help just-planted grass, on the left. (Click photo for larger image)

When will the community open the gate at Escuela Drive and Stonehouse Road? Bigger question: Should the gate be staffed by Security personnel, like the North and South gates, or be a passive gate, with no officer on site? Neither the Community Services District nor the Rancho Murieta Association seems willing to bear the cost of staffing the gate with Security personnel.

In recent weeks, the RMA and CSD have exchanged thoughts about the gate in a private meeting of the groups’ leaders, several letters and briefly at public meetings. 

More than once, the CSD’s president, Mark Pecotich, has emphasized the need for a staffed gate, a view that drew little direct reaction from his fellow directors at this month’s board meeting.

At a CSD Security Committee meeting May 3, the group discussed the RMA proposal for an unmanned gate arm that requires a bar code to enter and is monitored by a security camera linked to the North Gate, much like the Lago Drive entrance at the North Gate. This unmanned Escuela gate would be in operation perhaps 16 hours a day, according to the plan.

The plan, outlined in a May 4 letter from RMA General Manager Greg Vorster to CSD General Manager Mark Martin, suggested two sets of bar-code gates on Escuela – one that could be opened to allow non-residents access to Stonehouse Park for weekend sports events and secondary gates to keep those visitors from driving into the community. The second gate would have bar codes too, allowing residents to drive in and out of Stonehouse Park.

The plan was outlined at the CSD committee meeting by Danise Hetland, RMA assistant general manager.

Referring to the Lago Drive comparison, Pecotich, CSD president, said, “There’s a difference between an unmanned gate that’s within visible sight of our guard shack ... and this one.” Instead of the RMA’s proposal, he suggested that for sports events, a volunteer be stationed at the gate on Stonehouse Road and that an existing set of gates, 50 yards up Escuela Drive, be closed to contain sports traffic at the fields, leaving visitors unable to drive into the community proper.

“This is, like, costly and complex and not manned,” he said of the RMA’s proposal. “So, from one guy’s point of view, it seems a little bit below the standard of what we have currently. ... Our number-one priority, I keep being told as a community, is security.”

Other than for weekend sports, Pecotich sees the Escuela gate closed until sometime in the future, when there’s enough traffic to warrant it being opened.

“So, what I’m proposing is an interim step,” he said at the committee, “before we get into this (RMA plan), which is down the road and needs a different solution, personally.”

In a May 11 letter with questions for the RMA, Martin, the CSD’s general manager, cited the results of CSD’s security survey, which found 70 percent of community respondents wanted a manned gate. (Few respondents wanted to pay more, however.)

“Put simply,” the letter says, “CSD believes an unmanned gate will generally lessen the level of security that is afforded by manned gates. This impact grows if the gate is left open for extended hours outside of sporting and other cultural events at the park.”

Pecotich, at this month’s CSD meeting, repeated his belief that a manned gate is a community expectation and that staffing allows “eyes on” passing traffic. He proposed the RMA and CSD boards hold a joint meeting to discuss the topic.

Director Les Clark, a member of the Security Committee, endorsed the wider meeting and said the idea needs to be explained thoroughly to the community to take the temperature of Murietans on the specifics of a manned or passive gate. He said many communities are able to use passive gates successfully, and he asked how RMA proposes to fund a gate.

RMA is in the midst of a four-year plan, socking away money every year for an unmanned gate, and should have what it considers full funding – about $120,000 – by 2020. Acknowledging RMA would fund gate construction, Vorster, the RMA general manager, thinks staffing the gate is another matter. “CSD has always provided security services of this nature,” he wrote in a May 16 letter answering CSD questions.

At the June board meeting, CSD Director John Merchant suggested “let them tell us what they want,” and then CSD can tell RMA what that level of service would cost. “I don’t know that we need to be involved in whether the gate should be there or not,” he said. “That’s their deal.”

Merchant also suggested that development, which will bring hundreds of homes to that corner of the community, will demand a functioning gate, so perhaps it could be required to fund it.

Other than a passing mention, the topic didn’t come up in the public portion of this month’s RMA meeting.

Given how long the gate conversation has been going on already, RMA could choose to table the conversation until after November’s CSD elections, when the board makeup could change. Three of five directors face re-election – Pecotich, Jerry Pasek and Morrison Graf. Pecotich has already said he won’t seek re-election.

RMA-CSD correspondence:

Jacque Villa's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Posts: 539
Post rating: 701

Security Survey

What Security Survey ???  We have not heard the results from the one that was taken months ago.....did we pay the company for that one ?????

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

Security study was released in April

Jacque, it took more than a year for it to be released, but it was released in April. You must have missed it. You can look at the numbers or read everything that was released by clicking here.

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

Letter links fixed

A couple of the letter links in this story were broken, and they've been fixed. Apologies.

Jacque Villa's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Posts: 539
Post rating: 701

Security Survey

Thank you RM.com...yep I sure did miss it....Did they send the results to all the residents in our CSD bill that month ?  I'm thinking of all the folks that do not have computers or key into the RM.com site.....thanks again.....

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

Escuela Gate

I suggest the decision regarding an open vs. manned gate be put on hold until Security can pull up the numbers of non-residents who allegedly caused problems while attending sporting events in the community. If the numbers are nil or minimal, why not just keep things the way they are and do a real bang-up job when the county approves the construction of the proposed new units? Seems that would provide for more time to continue reviewing any issues that might arise.

Bobbi Belton

Bob Tauber's picture
Joined: 08/22/2014
Posts: 36
Post rating: 58

Gate Management

Bobbi Belton has it right as I see it.  

Also the idea of having the outer gate open and manned by volunteers and the yellow poll gate locked is not a good one.  No one will accept locking residents out of the park.  .


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