A capacity crowd seeking answers on the county’s assumption of recreation management in Idyllwild confronted the County Service Area (CSA) 36 Advisory Committee at its Thursday, July 14 meeting. The packed meeting produced little satisfaction for attendees, whose frustration grew because county representatives were absent.

On July 9, Bill Brown, CSA operations manager, had emailed CSA Chair Carol McClintic requesting to postpone the meeting until the following week. Brown was concerned that some people interested in the issue would not attend because of the concurrent Idyllwild Summer Concert performance. He wanted concert attendees to also have the right to participate in the discussion. In addition, Brown said the extra week would give the county more time to talk with Idyllwild Community Recreation Council staff about the transition. Brown also indicated that it would give the county more time to “process and interview qualified candidates to staff the program.”

Sue Nash, local attorney, discusses forming a County Services District at the CSA 36 meeting. Photo: Marshall Smith
In response to the many attendees, McClintic explained that the committee is not a policy-making body and cannot comment on matters of hiring and firing, or in this case the transfer of the recreation contract to county Economic Development Agency.

The Advisory Committee did schedule a special CSA 36 meeting for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, at Caine Learning Center. This will be an opportunity for the community to question county representatives about their plans for district recreation.

Both Dawn Sonnier and Kari Arnson, ICRC board members who attended the meeting, voiced frustration that the county had not contacted them about the transition. They also confirmed that they had not attempted to contact Brown. McClintic and advisory committee members also indicated they knew nothing of specifics of the county’s transition plans.

During the public comments section of the meeting, local attorney Sue Nash spoke first and shifted the focus to local government. She suggested that the community would have greater control if it investigated and pursued a Community Services District to replace the two CSAs (36 and 38).

“Local residents have little control over services,” she said. “Otherwise we’re at the whim of the Supervisor.” Referencing state Government Code 61000, she suggested the solution to having true local control is a Community Services District, in which a locally elected board administers community tax dollars to fund specific services rather than having those dollars go into county coffers and control of those services remain with the county.

What might have been a fractious crowd listened to Nash’s suggestion with obvious interest. The balance of comments remained respectful and focused on how to prepare for the meeting on July 27 with county representatives.

When ICRC Director Kari Arnson vented frustration at county government stepping in to take over Town Hall, longtime Hill resident Marge Muir explained that Town Hall is a misnomer for the recreation district. The historic facility is only one potential venue within the CSA 36 district. She also noted that since ICRC holds the deed to the community center property, recreation would eventually move there. “It will take a lot of public interest to make that happen,” said Muir encouraging the community to come together to further that reality.

McClintic said, “We can only grow as a community if we work together.” She thanked the audience for remaining respectful throughout the proceeding and suggested that the public could email questions and comments for next week’s meeting to her at [email protected].

In other business, Bob Schraff was elected as CSA 36 vice chair.

Special CSA 36 meeting
When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27
Where: The Caine Learning Center
Why: Past, present and future recreation in Idyllwild. What is happening in our community?