County Service Area 36 Advisory Committee Chair Bob Schraff resigned from the committee on Wednesday, Feb. 6, leaving the board with only one regularly attending member, Reba Coulter. The office of 3rd District Supervisors Jeff Stone says there are no current plans to fill the committe. Both Schraff and committee member Mike Frietas, who seldom attended meetings, cited the pointlessness of having an oversight board with nothing to review, now that the county has taken over the CSA recreation program.
“First, with only three members on a five-member board, any absence of one of the three make a quorum impossible,”Schraff said, “and that has been the case for most of the recent months.”
The CSA advisory committee is supposed to function as the “eyes and ears” of the supervisor to ensure that the recreation and street light programs are running as they should and spending of local tax money is properly accounted for. “Now that the county has taken over recreation, there is no oversight or need for oversight,”Schraff said. “What happens is what Bill Brown [CSA operations manager] puts forward. The way I look at it is, right now CSA 36 Advisory Committee is responsible for three street lights.”
Schraff expressed frustration, shared by the committee, about receiving little or no substantive information from the county’s Economic Development Agency, including regular financial reports. Without that information, they have nothing to review or report back to the supervisor about, Schraff said.
“We’ve also heard nothing about the [promised] community gardens or the senior center,” he said. “We’re disappointed that promises have not been kept. Why should I put effort into this thing when I know nothing is going to happen and no one is going to listen?”
Schraff also noted the ongoing rift in the community over county management of the CSA recreation contract. “No one is stepping up,” he said, recalling the brouhaha over dismissal of Idyllwild Community Recreation Council and Bob Lewis and how the controversy continues to affect the CSA recreation program by discouraging locals from accepting county recreation positions.
In response to questions about the future of the CSA 36 Advisory Committee, Verne Lauritzen, chief of staff for 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone, took a cautious position. He suggested that because David and Lois Buttterfield are reinvigorating the development of an Idyllwild Community Center, the county would take a “wait and see” approach since the Butterfield facility would be privately held and privately operated.
“We’ll continue to maintain present levels of recreational service on programs for which there is sufficient interest,” Lauritzen said. “We may not expand programs but we’ll maintain a full range of services.”
He said that if and when the Butterfield Community Center facility is up and running, assuming that it will be a recreational facility that residents pay to use and that is what the community wants, the supervisor could decide to cancel the CSA 36 parcel assessment. “He could return that money [that currently funds the CSA 36 recreation offerings and maintenance] to the taxpayers,” Lauritzen said.
Lauritzen said the county still plans to accept the Town Hall deed from the Johnson family and would continue to operate it as a recreational facility. Depending on how much of the community’s recreational needs are provided by the Idyllwild Community Center, then the county would consider the best communal use for Town Hall, perhaps a community theater or an expanded senior center, he added.
Lauritzen said for the present, the CSA 36 Advisory Committee would remain nonoperational. He was uncertain when or if Bill Brown would advertise for a local CSA recreation manager. Brown could not be reached for comment.