The Idyllwild Community Recreation Council (ICRC) held its last meeting as administrator for community recreation, on Wednesday, July 13.

On Aug. 1, the Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA) will assume control of the County Service Area (CSA) 36 recreation program. The county terminated ICRC’s contract after one year of probationary month-to-month status. ICRC has held the contract since Feb. 2007. Prior to that, the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce held the contract for many years.

In a letter stating the ICRC board’s position regarding loss of the recreation contract and the organization’s future, outgoing President John Simpson said, “As for the future, the functionality of ICRC will change primarily in relinquishing our responsibility of overseeing operations at Town Hall. We can’t tell what, if anything else will change as to ICRC’s board’s responsibilities, but we do know that the work of managing the Idyllwild Community Center and its dedicated committee will play largely in the mix . . .

“Our hope is that even without the county contract, the county will still have an interest in potentially using the Idyllwild Community Center at some point in the future to further implement a quality recreation program in our village,” he wrote.

Simpson also pledged to help facilitate the transfer of the lease and Town Hall itself to the new lessee, EDA. Simpson and the ICRC board had previously approved a termination clause in the lease with the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce (who holds the title to Town Hall) that would allow the succeeding recreation contract holder to accede to the lease on the same terms that had been granted ICRC.

New ICRC Director Scott Redeker asked several questions about the loss of the contract and the board’s role in overseeing the recreation program, including the degree to which the board had supervised the Town Hall recreation director and staff.

“ICRC was not going to micromanage Town Hall,” Director Linda McCaughin responded. “We hired someone [Recreation Director Bob Lewis] who had managed [before].”

Redeker also inquired about the organization’s financial status, its status as public or private, the current status of the community center land and whether the eventual community center complex would be public or private.

ICRC’s treasurer JoAnn Graham told Redeker that ICRC has about $330 in its operating account. There is more than $100,000 for the planned playground. Redeker stressed the importance of conducting fundraisers to give ICRC a solid continuing financial basis.

“ICRC does need to plan some revenue generators,” suggested Redeker. Graham recommended that with any fundraiser for a specific project, some proportion of money raised be held back for the operating account.

Regarding their status as a public or private entity, Vice Chair Dawn Sonnier reaffirmed that ICRC is a private organization, that the community center land is privately held by ICRC and when built, the community center itself would also be privately, not publicly, owned by ICRC.

Sonnier said the board had approved grant writer Robert Staples application to seek a $2.8-million grant from California Parks and Recreation. Sonnier explained that, if obtained, the ICC land donor would match the $2.8 million, bringing the total to near the original $6 million proposed budget to build the the center.

She indicated that ICRC should learn about the award in December or January. Under terms of a recent directive from the land donor, ICRC must finish both the playground and a two-classroom with bathrooms modular component of the larger community center by the end of 2012 in order to retain title to the ICC land. Specifically, the donor indicated he would consider extending ICRC’s mandate if the stated construction was completed by end of 2012.

EDA Operations Manager Bill Brown indicated by email that in addition to three full-time staff to be hired, there would be hiring of “additional staff and instructors as ‘contract’ employees hired for specific projects and/or classes.” Hiring is open to all, including present Town Hall employees.

He also stated that beginning Aug. 1, ICRC would take over management of the skate park. The skate park has long registered an operating loss as part of the CSA recreation budget.

In other business, Sonnier announced the resignation of longtime board member and president John Simpson. She lauded Simpson for his "selfless contributions" to ICRC and the community as well as his board leadership. She also noted that playground construction was funded and that additional money raised would be directed toward maintenance and upkeep.

Redeker will take over direction of the popular Speakers’ Series and spoke about his plans to have the first speaker booked for September. Sonnier announced that an anonymous donor has provided a $1,000 grant to fund the series. Previously, Supervisor Stone had funded the series from his discretionary fund.