Committee struggles to build community interest in recreation issues

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Opal Hellweg, 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant, swears in Peter Szabadi, newest member of the CSA 36 Advisory Committee. Photos by Marshall Smith

The CSA 36 Advisory Committee is struggling to find ways to increase attendance at its meetings. Attendance has been meager, even though funds for the program come from parcel taxes paid by district residents.

Chair John Metroka, at last week’s meeting, suggested quarterly meetings rather than monthly which had been made when the committee was first re-instituted. At that time, it was decided to make them monthly so the community could become familiar with the committee and its job of reviewing recreation management and reporting back to 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington.

With virtually no community attendance at recent meetings, Metroka stated he believed quarterly meetings would be more appropriate. Opal Hellweg, Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant, noted that county representatives, including Hellweg and Mike Franklin, CSA operations manager, would be attending quarterly.

Marge Muir pushed back, reminding committee members, “Your job is to represent the community.” Other committee members agreed and a motion was made and approved to have bi-monthly meetings.

Janice Lyle, president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center, dba Idyllwild Community Center, briefed the committee during the meeting last Thursday. She spoke about progress on the building site and the transition of tax-funded community recreation from the county to ICC. ICC now manages CSA 36 community recreation and is constructing the four ICC phases.

Capt. Leonard Purvis, new commander at Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hemet Station, attended the recent CSA 36 Advisory Committee meeting. “I want to make sure the community knows me. We are committed to making sure you have two deputies on the Hill who are visible, like the area and want to work here,” said Purvis, who promised to make frequent trips to Idyllwild. Hemet Station has patrol responsibility for the Hill. Purvis (right) is seen here with CSA 36 Advisory Committee Chair John Metroka (left) and Opal Hellweg, 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant. Photo by Marshall Smith

Lyle noted in her report to the committee that on April 11, the Board of Supervisors approved extending the initial 90-day recreation contract to a full three-and-a-half years. On the same day, a two-year lease of Town Hall by ICC from the Johnson Family Trust was finalized giving ICC responsibility for general operation and maintenance of Town Hall.

“ICC will now be able to be reimbursed from the CSA 36 budget for recreation operating funds [$30,731] that we had fronted,” said Lyle. “We will now be giving you monthly financial reports.” The county will only be supplying quarterly financial reports.

Lyle reported that an ICC recreation subcommittee meets weekly with Recreation Manager Bob Lewis to review current programs, money spent on those programs and community satisfaction with the programs being offered. “Recreation is a blotter-based word, incorporating more than just sports,” said Lyle. “Recreation should be more inclusive and serve a broader base of the community. Our committee is charged with conceiving and implementing more programs. We’re local, we’re smaller [than the county teams that previously ran recreation], and we should be able to manage recreation more efficiently and more economically.”

The subcommittee is Pete Capparelli, Wendy Read, Barry Wallace, Chris Singer Perrault and Muir.

Advisory Committee member Peter Szabadi asked how ICC will get feedback from the community about recreation programs. Discussion among the committee members with Lyle centered on social media outreach and community meetings. Lyle noted the Town Hall website is now upgraded and going out to a broader base, and the ICC website is an information source.

Lyle noted that the ICC building site, according to the best estimate at this time, should be closed for grading “sometime in June.” Lyle cautioned that this is a best estimate only. Bids for grading and amphitheater construction (phase one) are due on May 26. “Grading is tied to a water/runoff issue and must be done during dry months,” said Lyle.

The next meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15.

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