Santa Paula: Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

By Sheryl Hamlin

Ed Mount, Community Services Director of Santa Paula, presented the final conceptual model for the East Area 1 Sports Park, now officially called “Santa Paula Creek Sports Park”. At thirty seven acres, the proposed park is larger than all other Santa Paula parks combined. Mount presented the park as two phases as shown in the staff report.

Santa Paula Park Phases, Source:Staff Report

Mayor Gherardi summarized the park saying this is a “once is a lifetime opportunity”, but it will be a long process. She said she agreed with the conceptual plan, but not the suggested phases, saying that Limoneria funds will come in sporadically and there are not yet enough grants. She also suggested a Finance Committee to plan during the one year design period. She also suggested repeatedly during the meeting that a 501 c(3) be formed to raise money for the maintenance. Note, the staff report calls this 501 c(3) a “Nonprofit fundraising arm of City”.

Council Member Hernandez feels another strong consideration for funding the operational component of the park is a citywide Services District (called “community facility district” in staff report), where every property owner would pay a fee to maintain all parks on his or her property tax bill.

Council Member Hernandez also stated that he had doubts that a city the size of Santa Paula could have enough activity to pay for the aquatic center saying the costs in the in the current staff report are low. Council Member Crosswhite brought up that a previous report on the park showed a $350,000 annual shortfall for the pool. City Manager Rock said that Ventura’s pool costs abouit $1 million with a shortfall between $150,00 and $200,000, with a larger population base. Council Member Crosswhite also stated that HOA members who have their own pool are unlikely to use the East Area 1 pool.

Pool Concept, source: Staff Report

Although it was not discussed at the meeting, the homes in East Area 1 will have a Mello Roos tax as well as a Community Facilities District Tax (CFD). The staff report did not clarify if the proposed CFD would be on top of the EA1 CFD meaning that those residents would pay for two Community Facilities Districts or if the proposed park CFD encompass all of the city and would negate the need for an EA1 specific CFD. This was not discussed and was not in the staff report.

There was a motion made by Council Member Hernandez to allow staff to return with funding options. Mayor Gherardi suggested a council subcommittee to prepare a funding plan. With Council Member Proctor recused because of his Limoneira connection, Council Member Hernandez’ motion passed 3-1.

One of the challenges to be faced immediately is the $1.1 million design fee which will be due before any homes are built. Council Member Crosswhite addressed this globally asking who will pay the differential before the Limoneira funds are paid. There was no question or update about any deal with a home builder for East Area 1 without which no homes will be built.

Discussion ensued about population of the 501 c(3). Mayor Gherardi said experience in finance and fundraising are essential. Council Member Crosswhite asked why this 501 c(3) would not be an application process like other commissions? City Manager Rock said that initially the city would recruit and interview, but after that the 501 c(3) would have a board and elect iits own members.

Other reports on the park are found here:

Limoneira/Lewis Present Park Options for East Area 1

Santa Paula: East Area 1 Progress Report

Regional Sports Center Subject of Special Council Study Session

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One Response to Santa Paula: Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

  1. Peg M April 7, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Why does mayor need a special 501(c)(3) org to raise $ for this park? Donations to gov. Entities (like a town, county or state) are already tax-deductible to all donees.


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