RMA wants to buy Escuela at 'a steal' price
The Rancho Murieta Association’s board of directors Tuesday night indicated their intent to purchase 14 acres of land near Stonehouse Park, the Escuela site that had been planned for the failed community center. The $200,000 price is “a steal,” one director said. The board also announced that General Manager Nick Arther has resigned to accept a similar position at a homeowners’ association in San Diego.
Of Arther, who served three years with the RMA, Board President Jim Moore said, "Nick has done a good job for us and we will miss him."
Moore said Arther “had been instrumental in accomplishing many projects, including the dog park, the community gardens, putting together a committee and heading up all the work that was done on the proposed community center and pool, and we had a membership vote on allowing motorcycles on the North. ... We all wish him well in his new position.”
Nick Arther said the job opportunity "presented itself kind of out of the blue."
Interviewed after the meeting, Arther said he will be the general manager of the Coronado Cays Homeowners Association, which has a $5.5 million budget and serves a community of “$3 million dollar homes and $2 million yachts.” He said of his decision, “An opportunity presented itself just kind of out of the blue, and my kids are down there, and I was born and raised in Southern California.”
As for his time in Rancho Murieta, Arther said,”It was great. We had a wonderful, wonderful time. I loved every minute of it," adding with a smile, "well, almost every minute of it.” Arther and his wife, Julie, lived in Rancho Murieta and were active in many of its organizations. His farewell letter to the community lists groups from the Kiwanis to the Corvette Club, praises the RMA staff and the board, and concludes, “our door will always be open to our Rancho friends.” He leaves Nov. 11.
Buying the Escuela property
The RMA plans to pay for the Escuela property using funds that have been reserved for future parks contributions. In May, the Parks Committee voted to allow $725,000 the RMA has reserved for future parks fund contributions to be used for the community center and pool if the project were approved by a majority of the RMA membership. The plan included the purchase of the Escuela property, and the purchase was contingent on member approval of the community center and pool.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Jim Moore began the discussion about the purchase by saying the property is available and “it is a natural fit for Rancho Murieta. It would make a perfect addition to our park space up at Stonehouse.”
“I would say that the biggest reason we ought to purchase it is the price,” said Director Martin Pohll. “The price is, I think, extremely reasonable. ... I think it would be a boon to the community. ... We don’t have any plans to do anything with that land right now, but down the line I think we will. In maybe three to five years we might think about putting something out there. In the interim, we could use it for a number of recreational uses out there without much money.”
“I think if we don’t do something with our opportunity there will be a lot of people standing in line to purchase that property at that price,” Randy Jenco said. “...In my mind, it’s a steal, and we would probably be derelict in our duty ... not to purchase that piece of property. ... It’s just a neat piece of property that has all kinds of things that we can do there in the future.”
Sam Somers said he also supported the purchase. “If we don’t buy it, it could become, I don’t know, apartments. That’s kind of outside of our control right now,” he said. “...We have the money in our parks funds to do this, and if we don’t do it now, it’s forever gone.”
Bob Lucas also weighed in on the benefits of controlling the land. “We control that property, we own that property, we could develop it for park use as we see fit,” he said.
Because of the community center and pool project, “we found that the property was available for sale,” Moore said. “...We have an opportunity that is going to expire soon ... and I think it is something that we need to do.”
At the Parks Committee meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 25 at the RMA Building, the committee will discuss “granting park credit toward future park development for the purchase of Escuela property by RMA,” General Manager Nick Arther said.
The Parks Committee has five members -- two RMA representatives, one Community Services District representative, and two representatives from the local development community.
Contributions to the parks fund are triggered by new development, obligating developers to make a per-lot contribution that’s matched by a smaller RMA contribution. The RMA sets aside funds in reserves for its future contribution obligations. Using the funds now to purchase the Escuela property and having the expenditure credited toward future parks obligations, “is the proper way of doing this,” Jenco said. “because that’s what that money’s been set aside for. ... I think what we’re saying in essence here is that this property is going to become an extension of Stonehouse Park ... Since that money is already put away and we can get credit in the Parks Committee against future developer additions to that parks fund, this is the proper use of it ... and so it really doesn’t affect our annual budget in any way. ... It will not be a direct cost to any of the members.”
Jenco and other directors made a point of distinguishing between neighborhood parks like the Greens Park and community parks like Stonehouse, saying the RMA parks contribution was designated for community parks.
Broadband speeds and bandwidth increase
The Cable Department recently completed a major upgrade that provides “significant improvement in bandwidth,” Cable Manager Paul Venturella told the board. “We now have the full Docsis 3 in place and operating. It has doubled our bandwidth.” For RMA broadband users, that means more speed and more bandwidth at no increase in price for two tiers, and at a substantial price reduction for the mid-tier.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved expanded bandwidth caps and pricing that reduces the cost of mid-tier broadband service from $69.99 to $49.99 a month,while increasing upstream and downstream speeds. The top tier stays at $99.99, with higher speeds and greater bandwidth. “We had priced the two tier packages at a rate that would actually discourage people from getting on them, in part due to the limited bandwidth historically priced high,” Venturella said of the changes.
The board also approved increasing speeds for basic broadband upon completion of testing, while keeping the $32.49 price.
Saturday open houses with longer hours proposed
General Manager Nick Arther introduced a request to extend real estate open houses to Saturdays as well as Sundays. Arther said RMA, Country Club and Community Services District general managers recently met with about 20 local realtors to discuss “ways to market Rancho Murieta in general, and the Country Club specifically.” According to Arther, the realtors said they are at a significant disadvantage because they cannot hold open houses on Saturdays and they requested that the board initiate a rule change allowing open houses on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Current gate policy allows public access for open houses on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
“At the risk of offending some of my realtor friends, I think opening up the gates on Saturday as well as Sunday, that means all weekend, every weekend ... it’s a free entry day into Rancho Murieta,” President Jim Moore commented. “Essentially, there are no gates for those two days. Anyone who wants to come in can say, I’m here to look at houses, and you’re in. If someone wants to look at a house in Murieta any time during the week, they can call a realtor and they can come out and look at a house. Or five houses.”
Randy Jenco pointed out that the request was for additional hours as well as an additional day, and Sam Somers asked how many people come through the gates for opens now. Arther said he had no idea, but would follow up.
According to the 2011 CSD Security report, real estate traffic at the North and South gates totaled 526 vehicles, down from 606 in 2010.
Jenco said the board was hearing the proposal for the first time and needed time to consider it before taking any action. Martin Pohll said he wanted “both sides of the story,” and, Jenco, referring to his wife, who is a realtor, joked that he could “send someone over” to present one side.
“I think it ought to go through the normal committee process,” Bob Lucas said. Arther said as a rule change, it would go through committee and go out for public comment before adoption.
Sam Somers said he wanted more information. “I don’t know how much it would impact the community, but I guess conceivably there could be quite a bit of traffic,” he said.
“You get a lot of people coming in, especially on Saturdays, for sporting events anyway,” Lucas said.
The matter was tabled until next month’s board meeting.
- The board approved an operating budget for 2013 that keeps basic dues the same and increases the cost of basic cable TV by $2 for programming. Previous budget coverage is available here.
- Tim Maybee and Jim Moore will represent the RMA on the Joint Security Committee, which meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the CSD Building. The meeting is open to the public.
- For the second time, the board turned down a request from the Country Club to share the cost of replacing a collapsed pipe that runs under the entrance road to Murieta South. The RMA refused the same request in August. The club proposed splitting the $5,400 repair cost with the CSD and RMA. The pipe is part of the golf course irrigation system and transports recycled water the club receives from the CSD. The CSD agreed to a three-way split of the bill and also supplied its workers to perform the repair. During the discussion before the vote, Randy Jenco said he wanted to be a good neighbor but the repair had nothing to do with the RMA. When asked his opinion, Maintenance Manager Rod Hart said he opposed sharing the cost since it could set a precedent for CSD repairs that involved RMA roads.
- The board approved a $4,750 review of 2012 financial statements instead of an audit since an audit was performed last year and the RMA conducts an audit every three years.
- A pump track project proposed for Riverview Park is “having some problems with getting the insurance coverage that they need,” said Randy Jenco in his report on the October Maintenance Committee meeting. Jenco said RMA is behind the effort but the organizers of the project are responsible for funding it.
- President Jim Moore said the RMA received information from the CSD about its proposed DUI enforcement policy. “There was no item on the agenda, but please note that it’s there,” he told board members as the meeting ended.
Live-blog coverage of the meeting
I was so saddened to open up my browser and read this today. You don't know me, but I have been privileged to know your wife Julie and I consider her one of my "second" Moms here in RM. Thank you for your years of service. Julie, I haven't seen you in a while but think of you often. Thank you for all of your words of wisdom and prayers. I pray your move goes smoothly and that your new home is a blessing to you. It is people like you who make RM so special. You will be so missed!
Just wanted to add a few thoughts on the "Parks" topic.
I still consider myself a "Newby" out here since we've only been here a little over 2 years so If I seem to not know every detail of every project, forgive me.
On the purchase of the land near Stonehouse for $200,000.00. On the surface it seems like a good idea. But somewhat associated with that thought is the seeminly constant theme of improving and expanding Stonehouse but ignoring Riverview park. I'd like to see an investment in Riverview park. I'd like to see some innovative ideas come forward on how it can be enhanced and expanded for use by sports enthusiasts and I'd like to see lights installed. It has kind of a run down, old neighborhood look to it and it is the park where a majority of the kids and families that participate in sports live.
We may be limited by how much acreage we own and CAN improve but I often think when I hear of more projects, land purchases, dog parks, etc. near Stonehouse that Riverview is where we should be working on adding acreage, enhancing and improving not way over on the north end of the developement.
I also like the idea of fewer trips to Stonehouse on our golf cart and the fact that with the DUI frequency up that reduces the risk of being wiped out by a drunk driver.
That is great news about the reduced cost for Tier 2 Broadband. We've subscribed to this tier since day 1. A big Thank You!
I agree Steve. I wonder if the Riverview developer property went into bankrupcy? Maybe RMA could purchase it....