An artist's drawing of one of the water features proposed for the new North Gate.
The Rancho Murieta Association is looking for ways to stretch its $1.4 million budget for a rebuilt North Gate to include amenities like dual water features flanking the entrance to Murieta North. RMA officials have asked the CSD to pay $200,000 for security related items for the project, and CSD and RMA general managers will be discussing possible trade-offs and reporting back to their boards. The CSD board is expected to take action on the funding request in November.
“I think from the very get-go we were hoping CSD would contribute to the project because as a tenant you had lots of requirements that you wanted. ... it became apparent that what you were requesting was well beyond what we had anticipated at the beginning,” said RMA Director Randy Jenco, part of an RMA contingent that attended the CSD Improvements Committee meeting earlier this month.
Jenco said the CSD wanted new gate equipment, and the size of building changed because of CSD requirements. It was always his intention to come to CSD and ask to be “reimbursed,” Jenco said.
“My belief is back when the MBA was negotiated was that the $1.4 million was all inclusive,” said CSD General Manager Ed Crouse.
The Mutual Benefit Agreement, a 2003 development agreement between the RMA and Operating Engineers Pension Trust Fund, provides $1.4 million in PTF funding for the gate. The MBA was recently amended to shift responsibility for the design and construction of the gate from the PTF to the RMA.
The RMA owns the gate and CSD operates it according to policies set by the RMA. The CSD took over security operations from the RMA in 1984 at its request. In 1998, voters approved funding security services as a special tax.
Last month RMA General Manager Greg Vorster sent a letter to Crouse, requesting the CSD pay $194,530 for gate and video equipment, a 30 percent increase in the size of the gatehouse, conduit, a new emergency generator and other expenses related to the security operation at the gate as well as the gate configuration an RMA board selected in 2005 that retains the left turn on Lago Drive for entering resident traffic. The CSD supported a gate option recommended by a joint CSD/RMA committee in 2003 that eliminated the left turn.
“While enhancing the security operations is a priority, RMA also desires to upgrade the appearance of the entry. ... Under the current funding it does not appear both can be accomplished,” Vorster wrote. “The $1.4 million budget agreed to in the MBA in 2003 did not take into consideration many of the enhancements being considered 10 years later. Those enhancements include the left hand turn onto Lago, a third entry lane, a covered guest access lane, and larger, more dramatic entry features.”
According to Crouse, the proposed gatehouse will be similar in size and function to the South Gate facility, with capability added for viewing, recording and storing camera feeds. Dispatch will continue to be a South Gate function.
Vorster’s letter includes cost estimates for the gate project and drawings of an amenity for the entrance. When asked about the water feature, Vorster said by phone that it was scaled down for budget reasons from the architect’s first design. He said the original design was a river scene, with multiple pools, natural rock and cascading water. At more than $2 million, this version of the gate was “much more expensive than we could afford,” Vorster said. The $1.4 million budget version is a stone-clad curved wall with a six-foot deep pool and other features. Vorster said the RMA gate committee wants water features on both sides of the entrance.
In his reply to Vorster, Crouse wrote, “In general, it appears that the Rancho Murieta Association (RMA) is trying to shift its funding responsibilities to others to compensate for a project that is over budget due (to) grandiose entry landscape treatments, including multiple water features.” Crouse states that the CSD had no involvement in “defining the form or function of the gate” during negotiations for the MBA in 2003.
The CSD Improvements Committee's meeting this month was a meeting place for the CSD and Rancho Murieta Association to discuss the issue.
Vorster and Jenco took issue with some of the points in Crouse’s letter. Jenco characterized it as “us versus them” and said cooperation was the direction needed from the boards. “We’re all the same people. I pay my CSD bill every month. I belong to the association. ... We want a gate, landscaping, an entrance that we all are proud of when we drive in...,” Jenco said.
Jenco said he’s looking for CSD to go “beyond just buying new equipment. ... Because that’s the pot of money we can use to do other things in addition to making sure you’ve got the facility you want.”
CSD Director Bobbi Belton asked if the RMA was talking with the investor group that purchased the PTF property on the North about the “contribution they could, should, would make based on benefit to their property.”
Vorster responded that the new North developer had assumed PTF’s position -- “They feel that the $1.4 million is their contribution to the new North Gate.”
Developer John Sullivan of Cosumnes River Land, part of the North development group, was present at the meeting. Sullivan, who regularly attends CSD committee meetings and sits at the conference table with committee members, participating freely in discussions, sat apart from the group this time and didn’t comment until asked. Then he said the funds wouldn’t have become available to the RMA without the efforts of Jenco and Cosumnes Land. “We kind of broke the money loose in conjunction with RMA as we saw things coming to a conclusion on the purchase, and the gate’s an important redesign element of the new North,” Sullivan said.
Belton said she’d like the two general managers to do some talking before the funding issue comes to the CSD board in November. Belton suggested there might be “some quid pro quos,” related to fees charged by the two organizations, and asked how much the RMA was going to charge the CSD in road mitigation fees during construction of a new water treatment plant.
CSD Director Paul Gumbinger agreed that Vorster and Crouse should get together and find out how much CSD can contribute. Gumbinger, who signed the MBA as RMA president, has an advisory role on the RMA gate committee.