In a letter dated June 30, the Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA) gave notice to Idyllwild Community Recreation Council (ICRC) outgoing Chairman John Simpson of its intention to terminate ICRC’s contract as recreation manager for County Service Agency (CSA) 36. The effective termination date will be July 31.
In the letter, CSA Operations Manager Bill Brown told ICRC “Our goal is to work with you for an orderly transition of Town Hall including all CSA/county-purchased supplies and equipment into direct county oversight and management [commencing] on Aug. 1, 2011.”
Verne Lauritzen, 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s chief of staff, said that Stone made the decision after a long process of reviewing ICRC’s performance as CSA 36 recreation contractor. ICRC assumed management of the local recreation contract in February 2007, but since July 2010, has been on a probationary month-to-month contract.
“The Supervisor himself issued the directive and all at county level concurred,” said Lauritzen. “We’ve been wrestling with this [decision] for a year or more. During that time we’ve discovered irregularities with the use of public funding [in ICRC’s recreation management], some minor and some not so minor. The county must see that public funds are being used legally and with accountability. We’ve also discovered through surveys and discussions with district residents that significant portions of the community are not being served [with recreational opportunities]. The bottom line is, we don’t think the public is getting its money’s worth and now [with the change in recreation management] it will.”
Lauritzen said the Supervisor intends that recreation end-users, of all age groups and interests, will receive a more balanced menu of recreational services through county management of the program.
Under the new arrangement, the county will directly manage district recreation. It will open hiring for a recreation manager and two assistant recreation managers, one for facilities, accounting, policies and excursions and the other for programs, sports, activities and hobbies. While the county will oversee the CSA recreation program, management will remain local.
For the initial transition and probationary period, August through December 2011, positions are temporary with no benefits. Hill residents, existing ICRC Town Hall staff and others may submit resumes, according to Bill Brown, CSA operations manager. Hiring procedures will be governed by county regulations available on the county’s Human Resources website. Job descriptions for the three Idyllwild positions can be found on Riverside County’s Human Resources website. Go to www.rc-hr.com, choose "temporary and per diem jobs" enter keyword "Idyllwild" and the three jobs (two recreation coordinators and one service area manager) appear. Click on the actual job for a full description and how to submit resumes.
Brown said the county plans to evaluate all existing programs and preserve continuity of a majority of programs while that evaluation is underway. It is currently seeking additional local venues that can be used to expand existing recreational offerings. Planned additions include off-Hill field trips for both adults and kids, and an expanded menu of classes and clubs.
“Our goal is to work every day to enhance the community recreation program,” said Brown. “Extraordinary communities require extraordinary solutions and we will continually evaluate the needs of every demographic and strive for recreation programming that truly enhances the quality of life in Idyllwild.”
According to a recently revised agreement between ICRC, the county and the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce, which still holds title to the building, Riverside county will take over as Town Hall lessee upon the expiration of ICRC’s contract with EDA. Chamber President Nick Todd said he had received assurances from ICRC head John Simpson that ICRC would cooperate in the transition. Simpson and ICRC Vice Chair Dawn Sonnier were asked for comment. Simpson said he is off the Hill but would forward “any developing information” to the Town Crier. Sonnier did not respond.