Santa Paula Sports Park Foundation

By Sheryl Hamlin

Item 9 on the October 16, 2019 Santa Paula City Council Meeting detailed the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the City of Santa Paula and the Santa Paula Sports Park Foundation, a newly formed 501(c)(3) foundation that was the brainchild of former City Council Member and Mayor Ginger Gherardi.

Previous articles on the foundation can be read here.

Council Member Juarez recused himself from this item because he owns stock in Limoneira.

The MOU describes fundraising, sales of naming rights, signage, city required obligations, reporting of 501(c)(3) expenses, and the board positions. The Board President, Jason Cole, and Secretary, Ginger Gherardi, were present at council to answer questions about the foundation.

Other Foundation members not present were: David Blakeslee, Kyle Thille, Tim Gallagher and Danny Wreesman.

Jason Cole and Ginger Gherardi

Vice Mayor Araiza asked specifically what items will be named. Mr. Cole replied with the park itself, amphitheatre, baseball field … everything. He said there is an “ambitions goal”.

Council Member asked if the $50,000 minimum above which all items are reviewed by council makes sense? Interim City Manager Singer replied that this was designed to be consistent with the City Manager’s signing authority. Recall that this amount was raised during the Rock tenure. Council Member Sobel said he was fine with a $10,000 amount.

Other language about the park was discussed. Former Mayor Gherardi said that the city has an obligation to maintain/operate the park. The Foundation augments the city’s responsibilities. The Board wants a guarantee the city will maintain/operate the park and provide security.

A discussion ensued about the use of the funds. The plan, according to Ms. Gherardi, was to create an endowment and use only the interest for park operations. Council Member Sobel spoke of a $300,000 annual park budget. Board President spoke of a $400,000 operational budget. No one mentioned the study session where the former Park and Rec Chair provided a detailed operational budget. Read that budget here where annual costs ranged from $760,000 to $1,000,000 and were highly dependent on user fees.

Council Member Sobel said $20,000 seed money to the foundation was too high and suggested $5,000. Council Member Crosswhite asked if seed money had been budgeted. Note that there is some city staff time in the form of a liaison and reporting.

Mayor Garman said he “felt comfortable” with the item and Vice Mayor Araiza said he supported it.

City Attorney Cotti said he would return with changes to the language that had been discussed and the item would be on the November 6, 2019 agenda.

To watch the entire presentation and/or download the staff report, click here.

More about author: Sheryl Hamlin dot com

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