| Filed under

The Community Services District begins the new year with a commitment to a master trail plan and to exploring a proposal to acquire open space and the Country Club property.  The board acted on the issues at its December meeting.

The audience of about 18 included a contingent from the Rancho Murieta Association, which has tried for months to enlist CSD support for the master trail plan.

RMA General Manager Greg Vorster presented the plan and answered questions during the discussion that proceeded the unanimous CSD board vote to approve the trail plan in concept and send it on to the Parks Committee.

The RMA modified the trail plan in consultation with the CSD to include several additional natural and paved trails after the CSD board declined to accept the plan in September. When the RMA board approved the revised plan at its November meeting, CSD President Mark Pecotich told the board the amendments addressed some of the pieces he thought were missing.

Once the map is approved by the Parks Committee, it will be submitted to county planners. The county already has a plan that was submitted by the developers.

The RMA's Vorster compared the two maps in August, saying although both have 6.5 miles of paved and on-street trails and 17.5 miles of “natural dirt trails,” the developer’s map has “much more on-street trail and we’re showing more off-street trail.”

Under the terms of the Park Development Agreement that established the community’s park system in the early 1990s, landowners are required to develop a system of pedestrian and bike trails constructed to standards specified by the Parks Committee and grant the trails to the RMA at no cost.

The five-member committee consists of two RMA directors, one CSD director and two development representatives.

Pecotich said he wanted the Parks Committee meeting on the trail plan to be “a public, well-noticed meeting to get input.” The meeting is expected to be held in February.

Board appoints two-director panel on land purchase

The board adopted goals and objectives for the land acquisition project it's exploring and voted to form a two-person ad hoc committee to engage with the Rancho Murieta Association, developers, the Country Club and other stakeholders to gauge the level of interest.

General Manager Mark Martin described the potential acquisition in a memo to the board as “the Rancho Murieta golf course lands, facilities and other assets, open space areas around the reservoirs, and potential construction and operation of additional community facilities such as a community pool, fitness center and community center.”

Directors Les Clark and John Merchant offered lists of goals for the project, and the board selected seven items for a draft document. In Merchant’s view, ownership and operation of the golf courses would be maintained within the community, open space would be preserved for the enjoyment of residents; home values would be preserved or improved; and a bond or other financial instrument would fund the acquisition of the Country Club and allow for an expansion of activities.

“We’re not in the parks business,” Merchant said during the meeting discussion.  “Maybe you could say that we could still do this deal and each of the existing entities could continue to exist.”
Clark agreed that a collaborative process between all the entities is the right approach.

Items adopted from Clark’s list address the mechanics of funding recreational and related activities for residents, promoting cooperation among governmental and private agencies, coordinating park development and recreation programs with various entities, and retaining the existing quality of life.

“A major, key element here is the cost of all of this and whether the community will buy into it,” said Larry Shelton, an RMA director who attended the meeting.

Pecotich said he agreed, “but before I get to the point of putting a dollar amount on it, I still have to start with the 'what.' Where am I at, what am I after?” Pecotich said he was interested in participating in an ad hoc committee that would meet with the developer, and RMA and Country Club officials “and have that discussion.”

“Just so you know, my feedback from the community isn’t very positive if it’s going to be very expensive,” Shelton said.

Clark said the CSD couldn’t continue the process indefinitely because it would hurt the 2017-2018 budget. To date, about $35,000 has been spent for staff time and for legal counsel, according to Controller Eric Thompson.

Pecotich chose Merchant to serve on the ad hoc committee with him. In volunteering for the position, Merchant said, “I can negotiate and I have a passion for the community and for this deal. I believe in it. ... This comes along once, just like the bridge did.” Clark, who along with the other directors, also volunteered for the committee, characterized Merchant as an advocate. “If the approach by the ad hoc committee can be fair and balanced, and not from the standpoint of an advocacy ... with that caveat, I guess I can support it,” Clark said. “I don’t think we go very far before we turn this whole thing public,” Merchant responded. Pecotich agreed. “It’s super important. I do want it to be public and out there,” he said.

In brief...

  • The board voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance amending district code to update the community facilities fee paid by developers for water supply augmentation and water, sewer, drainage and security capital improvements needed to serve new development.
  • The deadline for the $500,000 grant the CSD received in 2011 to construct a well will be extended, Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, told the board. The grant was due to expire at the end of 2017.

Your comments