Santa Paula: Regional Sports Center Subject of Special Council Study Session

By Sheryl Hamlin

Special Study Session

East Area 1 was the first docketed item of 2018 in the form of a Council Study Session on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The title of the agenda item was as follows:

Study Session and Consideration of the Final Conceptual Plan for the East Area 1 Regional Park and Sports Complex

Upbranding from Neighborhood Parks to Regional Park

The obvious change to the park project is the rebranding from a series of neighborhood parks (described here at a 2017 meeting) to a “Regional Park and Sports Complex”. And in a previous 2016 meeting, the notion of multiple parks was reported by Mike Penrod.

The clue to this rebranding has to do with the construction shortfall as shown in the graphic which summarizes City Manager Rock’s presentation. Click here for his presentation.

Three Scenarios

Taking the results of the surveys, the City Manager and Mr. Ed Mount, Community Services Director, presented three scenarios. In each scenario is a “core” group of functionality, as shown in the highlighted area. The change for each scenario results from the water feature configuration.

Scenario 1: Olympic sized pool primarily for high school sports which is also suitable for water polo
Scenario 2: The addition of a community pool to the pool in scenario 1, which includes children’s play area, decking and other amenities.
Scenario 3: Community pool only

Note: all three pool scenarios include locker rooms, office space, snack bars and admin area for pool staff.

Construction and Maintenance Costs

The three scenarios were summarized into the following chart:

During the discussion, Council Member Hernandez asked if the city was responsible for the annual maintenance. Mr. Rock replied affirmatively, saying that each scenario includes project revenues from pool lessons ranging from $300,000 for Scenario 1, $500,000 for Scenario 2 and $300,000 for scenario 3. The report did not include count of swim hours from which rentals will be derived.

The construction shortfalls for the three scenarios are shown in red. The $11,000,000 represents the monies from the Development Agreement. Because each scenario exceeds the $11,000,000, Mayor Gherardi suggested the city sell the naming rights to the Regional Center. Naming examples are Staples Center in Los Angeles and ATT Park in San Francisco.

Corporate branding in Ventura County might be pulled from the following large companies. This list comes from the State of California.

A question immediately comes to mind would be signage requirements demanded by the corporate naming sponsor. Would an electronic sign visible from Route 126 be a possibility?

Perhaps the name of the amphitheatre could be sold. Ojai has the Libbey Bowl, which seats about 1000, With only 275 seats in East Area 1, the type of event would be different and might attract a different market segment.

A grant from the State Recreation Department was also mentioned without details.

Parking was not totaled, except for the existing soccer fields. In fact, Mr. Rock referred to the “little squiggly things” when he spoke about parking. Sharing parking with the office space after hours was also a suggestion.

The challenge of marketing a sports center or an amphitheatre on a regional level with a low to no-growth population will require a dedicated sales staff and a backup funding plan.

Santa Paula Unified School District

The Regional Sports Park consists of 27 acres from the original East Area 1 agreement, 5 acres of existing soccer fields to be refurbished, an HOA parcel and 8 acres from a SPUSD parcel. The question of the funding contribution from SPUSD will be discussed within 30 days, according to Mr. Rock.

It is important to note that according to an article in the Santa Paula Times on January 2, 2018, the SPUSD board was told that shrinking enrollment could lead to cuts. With expense increases outpacing revenue increases, SPUSD may have to “trim the budget”.

SPUSD is not alone in budget worries, as this article about The Conejo Vallejo Unified School District shows. The article also mentions declining enrollment.

Who Pays?

In the end, the taxpayers will make up all monies for the annual operating costs through a citywide Park Assessment District. The theory is that everyone benefits, so everyone should pay.

For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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