At its monthly meeting, the Community Services District supported a plan to put the long-delayed Greens Park out to bid and considered amending restrictions on water use to allow three watering days a week. The meeting began with the announcement that Security Chief Greg Remson is retiring at the end of July.
Greens Park progress
The Parks Committee still has to vote on it, but after presentations at the Rancho Murieta Association and the CSD, a revised design for a small park on the South is poised to move forward. Both boards agreed to have their Parks Committee representatives vote to put the project out for bids. The plan must be approved by the five-member committee, which has two development representatives, two RMA members and one CSD member.
Thousands in parks funds were spent on design and construction plans before the project was shelved in 2008 due to a funding shortfall. At that time, estimates to develop the park ranged from $550,000 to $700,000. The estimate for the scaled-down version is about $330,000. Funding sources include $69,456 in parks fees RMA has collected from the North developers for the first 22 lots of the Retreats. The Mutual Benefit Agreement calls for the North developer to pay parks fees when the final subdivision map is recorded. That happened last August.
“With the funds now being paid by the developer, staff has gone back, revised the plans,” RMA Director Tim Maybee, who chairs the Parks Committee, said at the RMA meeting. The RMA’s matching contribution of $19,815 and most of the park fund’s current balance of $84,000 would also go to fund the project. The balance would come from RMA reserves, with the Parks Committee crediting RMA for future parks contributions. The RMA has used this funding method in recent years to build the spray park and acquire the 14-acre Escuela site. With the Greens project, RMA credits will be at “$634,999, which is equivalent to 681 homes that would have to come on line for RMA to recoup that funding,” RMA General Manager Greg Vorster said at the RMA meeting.
The Park Development Agreements of the early 1990s among landowners, CSD and RMA established the Parks Committee, identified the park sites and facilities, and provided the funding mechanism to develop them. Landowners agreed to convey the park sites and a pedestrian and trail system to RMA and pay per-lot fees for new development. The RMA pays a smaller, matching fee for the 1,534 dwelling units already in place when the parks plan was established.
The CSD doesn’t have a monetary obligation, but did set a community park fee “under the theory that the District needed to create an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance of the parties to the Park Development Agreements,” according to the CSD’s annual report on the fee.
For the past year, the CSD has discussed and reviewed its role on the Parks Committee. At the April board meeting, Director Mark Pecotich, the CSD parks representative, said he wanted to update the parks master plan and include parks outside the gates – a county park and a detention basin in the Murieta Gardens development – for a “holistic view.”
CSD legal counsel Dick Shanahan said since the Mutual Benefit Agreement and three parks development agreements are limited to inside the gates, a revised fee study beyond that would be outside the jurisdiction of the Parks Committee.
General Manager Darlene Gillum said, “My feeling is we’re heading down the path of looking at the fee study, the nexus study, so that we become the collector of the fees. So to me it’s not going down the path of requesting RMA’s input.”
“I don’t think we’ve gotten to that point,” Shanahan said. “At the last board meeting I tried to get the district out of the parks fee business, got hammered pretty hard by community input ... and the board said, no, let’s not do that. Let’s go back and have the fee.” What wasn’t clear, Shanahan said, was “Are you simply the backstop? ... Or are you actually going to start beginning to actually levy and collect the fee yourself? Those are two very different paths.”
John Sullivan, a developer representative on the Parks Committee, told the CSD, “On the North, all the parks have already been deeded to RMA. It’s just a matter of what the matrix says is supposed to be in those areas and that’s a cost update. I think we may be overshooting trying to have a consultant tell us what everything costs because we’re bidding things out as we go already. ... Right now you have a contract that speaks to fees and it involves RMA participation ... and we would be very hard-pressed to think that it be any other way.”
Pecotich presented the revised Greens Park to the directors for their input. Although the CSD parks representative has autonomy while RMA representatives are required to carry out the direction of their board, Pecotich wanted to develop consensus before acting on the committee.
He displayed renderings of the park and said he’d suggested the rock features for climbing. “I think the Parks Committee liked that,” Pecotich said. He also talked about the savings from the earlier plan and how the project would be funded. “I think this is going to be something that everybody’s going to be using whether you live on the North or the South,” he said.
Longtime security chief to retire
Security Chief Greg Remson, who has been part of Rancho Murieta’s Security operation for three decades, will retire in July, the board was told.
General Manager Darlene Gillum made the announcement at the outset of the meeting. Remson offered no comment as some board members reacted with surprise.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” he said after the meeting. “I’m going to go back to work, but I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Asked how long the change has been in the works, he replied, “A while. I’ve been thinking about it a while.”
The board’s reaction was subdued. Only Director Mark Pecotich commented on Remson’s plans.
“There’s a number of times I’ve come to Greg,” Pecotich said at the end of the meeting, “and we’ve had some good conversations about safety in the community and other things we had to do to advance the needle from where we’re at today, so I appreciate all that.”
Remson was named chief, replacing Jim Noller, the longtime Security head, in April 2005.
Additional watering day considered
The board discussed changing the requirements for outside irrigation to allow an extra day of watering, while still meeting a 25 percent conservation goal. If adopted, the change would increase the number of watering days from two to three a week.
General Manager Darlene Gillum said many agencies in the Sacramento area are reacting to having a normal water supply and continuing to meet state-mandated conservation levels, and the state Water Resources Control Board will consider taking action on the issue this month. The CSD has been able to fill its water storage reservoirs each year despite the drought, Gillum pointed out.
The district adopted a resolution in May 2015 to comply with state water conservation regulations that require small water suppliers to limit outside irrigation to two days per week or implement other measures to reduce water demands by 25 percent. Under the two-days-per-week restriction, the community reduced residential use by 31 percent, Gillum said, making the conservation goal seem possible with an additional watering day.
Changing the watering restrictions would require repealing the resolution and adopting a new resolution. The matter returns to the board this month.
RM’s waste is down 5% since 2009
Jack Fiori, general manager of California Waste Recovery Systems, offered his annual report on his company’s waste-hauling operations, which serve Rancho Murieta through the CSD.
His report pointed out that from 2009 to 2015, the overall tons of trash collected fell by 2 percent while recyclables have increased by more than 10 percent and green waste has fallen by almost 20 percent.
Overall, the amount hauled from Rancho Murieta has fallen by 5 percent in that time, Fiori reported.
The only site going out to bid for the CSD’s well project is along the river because an alternative site is being sold, Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations reported. He said the well would be kept in a standby mode and used in drought years or as an emergency water supply. The CSD still needs to secure entry agreements from the property owner.