This week, the City Council voted 5-0 to ask the Parks & Recreation Commission to research the need for, possible sites for, and potential benefits and impacts from two proposed park projects: an enclosed dog park, and a universally accessible playground. Coronado resident Louise Shirey, representing PAWS of Coronado, made the request for a dog park. Valera Fabiszak, whose daughter Chelsea is disabled, spoke on behalf of an accessible playground. The Commission will research the projects and return to the council with its recommendation as to whether the city should pursue them and if so, where they should be sited.
The Council also directed City Manager Blair King to negotiate a three-year contract renewal for golf professional services with Ron Yarbrough, who has worked at the Coronado golf course since 1971 and has provided golf pro services for the course since 1995. The present contract expires in January 2014. Yarbrough, who initially requested an additional four and one-half year contract, offered his agreement to a three-year term instead, and announced his decision to retire in February 2017.
Turning yet again to the issue of Coronado traffic, the Council approved a request from the Transportation Commission for $50,000 to hire a consultant to come up with measures to slow down traffic on Third and Fourth Streets without impairing traffic flow—objectives which appear to be, as Commission member John Tato recognized, “somewhat mutually exclusive.” Tato expressed the Commission’s view that design elements will be more effective to reduce actual traffic speed, rather than enforcement of existing speed limits. Coronado Police Chief Jon Froomin explained several legal and practical difficulties with getting convictions for speeding violations. Stating that he had no objection to the commission examining design options, Mayor Tanaka emphasized the public’s perception that existing efforts are inadequate and a stronger enforcement presence is needed. “That is what the public I believe is seeing and they’re not interested in our excuses for why we’re not doing it.” Council member Denny was the sole no vote on the measure, calling it an abuse of the Bridge Toll Fund.
Council member Denny reminded folks to turn out for California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Coastal Cleanup Day is part of International Coastal Cleanup, an effort that claims to be the largest volunteer event on the planet. Volunteers can register to help at Coronado City Beach; click here to register. Registration for Silver Strand Beach is full.
Additional information on the city council agenda items:
Universally Accessible Playground
Fabiszak asserted that the playground would benefit children and adults alike, including disabled grandparents and Wounded Warrior parents living in the area while being treated at Balboa Naval Hospital. Fabiszak believes Coronado can get assistance with the project from Shane’s Inspiration, a non-profit organization that has helped raise millions of dollars to develop more than 40 universally accessible playgrounds. Fabiszak, who has been involved with creating similar playgrounds in Chula Vista, California and near MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, assured the council she would work with Shane’s Inspiration to help raise the money for the park “so that it does not cost this city one dime.”
A universally accessible playground is designed to allow children of all abilities to play side-by-side by removing barriers to mobility through use of transfer stations, wider paths, and ample space around equipment; and by including play elements with universal appeal and accessibility, such as sand, water and other tactile elements. Los Angeles and Santa Monica are among the growing number of cities that have developed universally accessible parks. Santa Monica’s, which cost just under $1 million, opened this past July.
Enclosed Dog Park
Shirey explained that despite the sizeable dog population in Coronado, there is no fenced or enclosed area where dogs can safely run free. PAWS had targeted an area in Tidelands Park near Glorietta Boulevard and Third Street and contacted neighborhood property owners last February to propose the dog park, but ran into solid opposition. Area resident David Fairbank confirmed that the neighborhood is “adamantly opposed” to such a project, and presented the Council with a petition of 19 signatures opposing the idea. Mayor Tanaka noted that the same site was considered in 2006 as a possible location for the animal shelter, and was rejected due to area residents’ serious opposition. He strongly urged Parks & Recreation staff not to consider the site further, and suggested staff find potential sites first, before looking at the project’s need and benefits. Mayor Tanaka proposed Vetter Park as a “fairly obvious possible solution.”
Golf Pro Contract Renewal
A number of residents appeared to speak in Yarbrough’s behalf; no one appeared to oppose the measure. Residents and golfers Gene Kemp and Betty Anderson offered the signatures of more than 150 golfers and golf course employees supporting Yarbrough’s retention. Kemp stated that the city’s Golf Advisory Committee had voted unanimously to keep Yarbrough.
Council member Al Ovrom urged the council to issue a request for proposals to operate the golf course concession, not because of complaints about Yarbrough’s performance, but to open up the process and ensure the elements proposed for the concession meet the city’s current needs. Said Ovrom, “This particular franchise has been going—I guess franchise is the wrong word, but it’s been going on for 19 years, and I think it’s about time we put it up to find out if this still is the best way to do it or not.”
Last March, the City issued a request for proposals to operate the golf course’s restaurant concession following the expiration of the existing contract with concessionaire Coronado Foursome, Inc. (better known as The Clubhouse Bar & Grill), which has held the concession since 1998. Only two bidders submitted proposals, and the city resumed its relationship with Coronado Foursome after finding it the more qualified of the bidders.
Perhaps reflecting the likelihood that the golf professional contract would be awarded to Yarbrough, Council member Woiwode expressed reluctance to put the staff through the RFP process for the golf concession, noting that when the city takes the time to go through the proposal process, it wants to enter a relationship with a vendor who will be around for a long time—a criterion Yarbrough would not meet.
Mayor Tanaka and council member Bailey expressed their view that the shortened contract represented “just the right compromise,” giving staff time to determine what direction to pursue on Yarbrough’s retirement and honoring Yarbrough’s years of service by allowing him to finish out his career here. Responding to complaints about price levels, Tanaka did ask the city manager, when negotiating the new contract, to look into prices for use of carts and for the driving range.
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