Mark Pecotich discusses the Rancho Murieta Association board's projects list for 2019.
The Rancho Murieta Association board spent almost two hours Wednesday night planning potential 2019 projects, everything from pickleball courts to speed enforcement to a new business offering watercraft on Lake Clementia. The board is expected to deliver its preliminary go-ahead on projects they choose at Tuesday’s board meeting. In the meantime, here’s a look at what they’re considering, and the cost of each, so you can be part of the conversation, either here or at the meeting.
To start, here are a few facts to help you get your bearings:
- Each $1 added to member dues raises $28,092 a year in RMA funds. Members currently pay $139 a month in dues. (This year's budget prompted a dues increase of $4 per month.)
- Already in the 2019 budget is a $28,000 installment payment for the Escuela gate and $25,000 for turf replacement at Stonehouse Park.
- General Manager Greg Vorster told the board he is projecting a 3 percent increase for staff wages. When you figure in tasks that will be completed this year and additional expenses next year, Vorster said the 2019 budget has a net monthly dues increase of $1.70 per household, or 1.2 percent, right out of the gate.
Beyond that, here are potential 2019 projects and reactions by RMA directors and the handful of residents who were in the audience:
Stonehouse Park re-sod, Phase 3
Cost: $25,000, or $0.84 per member per month
Notes: $25,000 is already allocated in the 2019 budget. Staff would like to accelerate the final phase of the re-sod project to 2019. This would require an additional $25,000 in the 2019 budget for a total of $50,000.
Vorster shared photos as part of his presentation, including, in this case, a shot of dirt patches – possibly dangerous – in the Stonehouse turf. In response to questions, he said these fields were last addressed 15 or 20 years ago. At the suggestion of artificial turf, Vorster said artificial surfaces are expensive, very hot and need replacing within 10 years.
Add one full-time employee to the Maintenance Department
Cost: $26,000, or $0.85 per member per month
Notes: Maintenance manager and the Maintenance Committee have recommended this. With the additional employee, RMA would reduce the number of temporary hours budgeted, reducing the budgetary impact to $26,000.
Maintenance Manager Rod Hart said RMA is spending $40,000 to $50,000 a year on temporary help in this category.
Addition of one pickleball court
Option 1: Convert the existing basketball court to a pickleball court. Cost: $10,000, which includes fencing, nets and striping, or $0.36 per member per month
Option 2: Construct a new pickleball court at Stonehouse Park between the dog park and the community garden. Cost: $50,000, $1.78 per member per month
Director Cheryl McElhany said any construction of a new pickleball court should be at least partially funded by those who play the game. Director Larry Shelton noted that community opinion has been voiced on this question, but there was no one to speak on it at the meeting. The board noted that the universe of pickleball players in the community appears to be fewer than 50 and that the existing courts don’t seem to get much use. Director Stephanie Bianchi said she opposed the stance of pickleballers at last month’s RMA meeting who seemed to view the courts as available only for pickleball. Director Rob Brown responded that the courts should be free for other uses but shouldn’t be abused by other users.
Neighbor Jennifer Wertzer, saying she represents a large group of mothers in the community, opposed taking the Stonehouse Park basketball court to expand pickleball facilities and said the mothers would have opposed last year’s building of the pickleball courts if they’d known about it. She called the pickleball facility “a complete eyesore” and said an expansion “would cut our park in two.” Another neighbor, Stephanie Xenos, said she doesn’t see much pickleball use and she suggested the pickleball players approach Summerfest about support.
Neighbor Mark Pecotich, who’s also the Community Services District’s board president, made a point of the number of players the pickleballers claim and how this situation lines up with a situation he was involved in – the building and operation of the bicycle pump track at Riverview Park. That park was closed because RMA directors didn’t see it being used much and because it carried a hefty insurance bill.
Speed enforcement measures
Cost: $3,200 for speed humps and $37,500 for radar gun trailers. Money would be taken from reserve funds, which total nearly $52,000, so there would be no budget impact.
Notes: Staff is recommending the addition of speed humps on Pera on either side of the Pera/Escuela path and the purchase of three radar trailers with license plate recognition that would record speeders’ license plates 24/7.
Vorster said speed humps – a small increase in the road’s surface, unlike a speed bump, which is a large increase – would be portable and could be relocated as needed. As for the radar trailer, “It frees up your security or compliance guys to focus on stop signs....”
Director Jim Crowder welcomed the speed humps and trailers. “One good thing about speed trailers is they’re 24/7,” he said. “And no manpower. They can be moved to whatever ... street is having an issue. For some yahoo who’s going to go blowing down Pera or Puerto at 2 or 3 in the morning, guess what? Smile.” Shelton said there are problems now because months went by with little enforcement of traffic rules. In recent weeks, with the return of enforcement, the problem has been brought under control, he said, eliminating the need for measures like these. McElhany replied that it will take both prevention and enforcement.
At the outset of the meeting, CSD board president Pecotich, whose own board was meeting at the same time a mile away on Jackson Road, urged the RMA to work with the CSD to achieve common goals. He mentioned some of CSD’s challenges – Murietans don’t want to pay more for Security services and limits on how much CSD can increase its security tax. “Let’s talk about opportunities,” he said. “Let’s figure out how to work together on this as boards.”
Escuela gate passive entry
Cost: $28,000, or $1 per member per month
Notes: The Escuela gate is currently on a four-year funding cycle. 2019 will be Year 3, and $28,000 is in the current 2019 proposed budget. If the board wishes to accelerate the funding of construction of the passive gate, an addition $28,000 would be added to the 2019 budget.
Pecotich encouraged the RMA board to look at the CSD security study before making this decision. (The study's survey found a majority of the community wants a staffed, not passive, gate at Escuela, and Pecotich has expressed his agreement.)
Shelton asked questions about the construction timetable, and how it might fit into the budget cycle, and the board and staff discussed the possibility of a three-way stop at the Escuela/Stonehouse intersection. Bianchi encouraged staff to do some comprehensive studies of the gate situation and how the timing might be tied to development, and Vorster said those studies have been done.
Electronic display sign
Cost: $12,000, or $0.43 per member per month
Notes: 4-by-8-foot, single-sided electronic display for messaging to the community.
Vorster explained that the sign, displaying community messages, would be installed outside the RMA office. Alex Bauer, board president, called it part of a larger communications effort. Acknowledging that it wouldn’t be seen easily by South residents, he said it could be a first step, with a second sign on the South or out on Jackson Road, if that’s allowed.
Patio cover at Lake Clementia and loop sidewalk
Cost: $20,500 for material and $13,080 for labor, for a total of $33,580, or $1.20 per member per month for total project or $0.73 per member per month for materials only
Notes: This is a staff-identified project consisting of a new 6-foot-wide, wheelchair-accessible sidewalk from the covered patio at Clementia Park to the swim beach, overlay of existing patio slab and installation of solid metal roof. RMA can provide labor.
Hart, the maintenance manager, said the existing patio slab has a structural problem that causes water to puddle there much of the year, creating a dangerous situation. Further, Hart said more trees are needed in the area.
Motorcycle parking area
Cost: Constructing the 9,440-square-foot parking lot would cost about $75,000, or $2.67 per member per month
Notes: The Compliance Committee is requesting the board revisit relocating the motorcycle parking area from the Gazebo parking lot across Lago Drive between Murieta Parkway and the spillway. The lot would accommodate 16 cars and 24 motorcycles.
This project, which first surfaced in 2015, didn’t generate much enthusiasm. The idea originated in the Compliance Committee, but even its chair, Crowder, said he couldn’t endorse it. “It’s a very high-dollar item that I just can’t see supporting, I’ll be honest with you,” he said.
Part-time employee for recreation and social media duties
Cost: $30,000, or $1.07 per member per month
Notes: Employee would facilitate more robust social media involvement and assist in duties created by an expanded recreation program.
This part-timer would update the RMA’s website and assist with expanded recreation events, Vorster said.
Shade covers for playgrounds
Cost: $63,204 at Lake Clementia, or $2.24 per member per month
Cost: $63,017 at Stonehouse Park, or $2.24 per member per month
Cost $40,553 at the Greens Park, or $1.44 per member per month
Total cost: $166,774 for all three, or $5.92 per member per month
Notes: The covers would shade playground equipment from the sun.
In response to a question, Vorster said the project could be separated into one cover a year for three years. Hart, the maintenance manager, said the association could expect a 10-year life from the structures. Bianchi said the community’s playgrounds are unusable during hot afternoons because they’re so sun-struck, so these covers would be useful much of the year.
Summer watercraft rentals
Cost: $33,479, to be offset by revenue
Notes: The Recreation Committee wants to rent 14 watercraft on Lake Clementia from June to August from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Vorster said the idea is to offer paddle boats, stand-up paddle boards and kayaks. The operation, charging $25 an hour for rental, would be staffed with part-time employees, he said. His business-plan calculations assumed 12 rentals each weekday and 24 each weekend day, which would generate enough revenue to cover the project's expenses.
Director Joanne Brandt said she thought the projections were unrealistic because most people who use the lake have their own boats and there aren’t that many people at the lake at all on weekdays. Shelton said he agreed and suggested the idea start on a smaller scale. McElhany said she doubts people would pay $25 an hour.
“I love the idea of that,” Brown said of the project, suggesting the numbers might need another look. His support was seconded by Xenos, who agreed that weekdays might be a problem for the business. But she said she would happily pay “whatever the going rate is” to use a paddle board, and she said many members of the community agree with her.
At the start of the session, Vorster listed projects that have been completed this year – the new sidewalk at the Greens Park, a new playground and sidewalk at Lake Clementia, the post-and-cable fencing being installed now at Stonehouse Park, new lights at the dog park (thanks to Summerfest donation), new turf at Stonehouse, new playground equipment at Stonehouse, the new Summerfest Sports Field on Escuela Drive and the new dog park at Riverview Park.
The board will hold its regular meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the RMA Building.