By Susan A. Neufeld
UPDATE 1 – Monday October 30,7:00 p.m.
The following is an update on the original story from Rim of the World Recreation and Parks District for the future of the District.
Dear Residents, Businesses, and Visitors:
The District’s open letter dated October 27, 2017 inadvertently included an inaccurate quote from Janice Rutherford, San Bernardino County Supervisor. The quote should have conveyed that Janice Rutherford believes the County is not in the business of “neighborhood and local parks” and that she continues to support the County’s Regional Park functions. The open letter may be construed to incorrectly imply that Supervisor Rutherford does not support the County’s efforts related County “Regional” Parks. That is farthest from the truth – as she continues to voice support for the County’s Regional Parks programs as a public benefit. Supervisor Rutherford has always been open to exploring options, and the ROWRPD Board and staff understand there are many legal and procedural matters that go into all decision making that cannot be overstepped. The Board and its staff understand that under the leadership of Janice Rutherford that the County must do what is best for the County as a whole and we will support any decision she makes as it relates to Lake Gregory Regional Park to the benefit of the entire County. That being the case, the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District continues to apply the virtues of patience and understanding as we collect your ideas and suggested opportunities to improve our local and neighborhood parks, and recreation services.
Board Chair, Rim of the World Recreation and Park District
Mountain Communities – Following is a letter from Lawrence A. Mainez, Board Chair for the Recreation And Parks District. This letter outlines the future of plans for the Rim of the World Recreation and Parks District.
October 27, 2017
Subject: Re-imaging the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District
Dear Residents, Businesses, and Visitors:
Over the last few years your local Rim of the World Recreation and Park District (ROWRPD) has taken extraordinary steps to improve oversight and accountability to ensure the District’s future continues to sustain a quality of life desired in the San Bernardino Mountain Communities. The following are a few of the necessary steps that the ROWRPD has taken to ensure we maintain the ability to provide quality recreation and parkland opportunities to the entire service area:
- We continue to development and adopt balanced annual budgets on-time and with a healthy fiscal reserve to cover emergency facility repairs and other expenditures as needed.
- We have adopted estimated five (5) year projections for revenues and expenditures as part of the annual budgeting process.
- We have adopted new procedural policies related to public finance and auditing practices, and user fees.
- We refined personnel and contractor regulations and policies.
- We developed and approved a five (5) year capital improvement plan to ensure important maintenance and upgrades to ROTWRPD facilities are not deferred to the detriment of the District tax payers.
A “pay as we go” fiscal philosophy continues to serve the District well. Avoiding taking on additional debt service up to this point has been a major factor in the District’s current financial health. Highlighting the District’s steps as outlined above is important to better appreciate why your ROWRPD is now planning to reshape its future by embracing new recreation and park projects and reestablishing its joint collaborations with other local districts and stakeholders. This grand initiative is intended to implement a recreation and park district as it was envisioned when it was established in December 1985.
I encourage you to visit the District’s website at www.rim-rec.org to learn more about all the activities offered and the facilities available today to all District residents, businesses, and visitors in the 110 square mile service area (from Green Valley Lake on the east to Crest Forest/Valley of Enchantment on the west). Also take time to read a brief history about the District on the website.
Most recently the ROWRPD was approached by some local residents and business owners asking the District to explore the acquisition and development of parkland facilities in and around the Crestline communities. As a result of this request, the District began a comprehensive evaluation of five (5) potential sites which included a surplus property owned by the Rim of the World Unified School District, two (2) properties owned by the United States Forest Service, the abandoned Lake Gregory Education Center school property located contiguous to Lake Gregory, and an exploration of the potential acquisition of the County’s Lake Gregory Regional Park.
All of these sites were evaluated from a fiscal impact analysis perspective, but also from the District’s mission statement perspective. In other words, could these potential sites be acquired, developed into parks, and maintained by the District with no or at least with very little fiscal impact to the District’s budget? As of the date of this open letter to our District residents and businesses, all the potential sites listed above are still in play, and no formal determination has been made by the full ROWRPD Board.
Getting to this point of discussing new park facilities in the District could not have been possible without the generous time commitment and input from local residents and businesses who participated during a handful of meetings with the District’s Planning and Facilities Subcommittee and our General Manager. The District anticipates more public meetings in the near future to discuss park planning.
One of the major concerns the District heard from the public relates to the impacts caused by the closing of the Lake Gregory Ball Fields due to the County’s efforts to construct a new Dam for Lake Gregory – among other lake facility improvements. The ROWRPD was ready and eager to help because it became clear that the District needed to take a greater leadership role in locating a replacement for the loss of the Lake Gregory Ball Fields.
An interim solution involved a collaborated effort between the ROTWRPD and the Rim of the World School District. Mrs. Karen Reams, our Park District General Manager and the Board of Directors rolled up their sleeves and sharpened up their pencils and began meetings with the Rim School District team to find a solution to the loss of the Lake Gregory Ball Fields. During those meetings the ROWRPD put its sights on the abandoned Lake Gregory Education Center located at the easterly shores of Lake Gregory. That school site had been vacant for many years and it appeared to have all the right components for a new Recreation and Park District Community Center, and most importantly it has flat land (something hard to find in the San Bernardino Mountains) for a new state of the art ball field. The Rim School District agreed with the ROWRPD vision for the Lake Gregory Education Center and soon thereafter approved a new Joint Use Agreement with the ROWRPD. Our District’s General Manager is currently making plans to host an open house at the Lake Gregory Education Center to solicit design ideas for our new Community Center. Stay tuned for more information on the future open house event.
With the new Community Center now in the works, the District can know focus its attention on another unique recreation opportunity – which is to explore the potential acquisition of the County’s Lake Gregory Regional Park located in the Crestline communities. The Lake Gregory Regional Park facility may only include the land around the Lake, and the water and Dam could continue to be maintained by the County. This unique opportunity for the ROTWRPD is supported by Janice Rutherford, our San Bernardino County Supervisor who has championed local control for the Mountain Communities for many years. “The County should not be in the business of parks”, said Janice Rutherford recently. The ROTWRPD agrees with Janice and we see the aging Lake Gregory Regional Park facility as another great opportunity for the District to provide improved recreational services for all District residents, businesses, and visitors. This opportunity to revitalize the existing Regional Park will also help revitalize the Crestline communities. The Lake Gregory Regional Park was one of the first regional parks created in the County of San Bernardino – which was purchased from a private company in 1985. Taking a quick visit to the site you can easily see that the Regional Park has reached is life span and is in need of a face lift and modernization upgrades.
As you may be aware the ROWRPD was also established in 1985 as an independent special district authorized to provide “local park development, operation, maintenance, recreation, and child care”. This service directive makes the ROTWRPD the logical governance body to acquire and manage the Lake Gregory Regional Park in perpetuity. Converting the aging Regional Park into a new state of the art Community Park & Sports Complex for the entire 110 square mile District to enjoy should be something everyone can get excited about.
In addition to receiving support from Janice Rutherford our County Supervisor, and embracing our role to provide recreation and park services for the San Bernardino Mountain communities, the District has in-place an effective local governance infrastructure which includes an elected Board of Directors, a functioning support staff, and a stable budget. This local governance infrastructure is a critical component that gives the San Bernardino Mountain communities a platform to participate in the planning and implementation process. That being the case, there are several things the ROWRPD can do better than other local agencies to ensure the Lake Gregory Regional Park is managed and revitalized into a public facility that will improve the quality of life in the San Bernardino Mountain communities. First, the District Board of Directors could consider establishing a new Rim of the World Community Park/Sports Complex Subcommittee made up of local stakeholders in the ROWRPD to help the elected Board and its staff manage the necessary short term and long term facility improvements. Second, the District could collaborate and create partnerships with other local districts though a Joint Powers Agreement or other similar arrangements to ensure the large Rim of the World Community Park/Sports Complex could be managed and improved in a fiscally sustainable manner (both in the short term and long term). Third, and something the District Board is investigating is whether the District residents and businesses would be willing to increase their property tax assessment to help pay for a portion of the District’s long range maintenance of its current and future facilities (inclusive of the potential Lake Gregory Regional Park acquisition) and help off-set the normal progressive increases in future expenditures related to providing park services. Finally, the District’s governance infrastructure and fiscal stability puts the District in a position to competitively compete for state and federal grants that could be used to off-set the cost of constructing recreation and park facilities in the ROWRPD.
I hope this open letter was helpful in shining the light on some of the exciting future park projects and the vision the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District is initiating to further improve recreational opportunities available in your community.
If you find this information as exciting as your District Board and our support staff does, we encourage you to send a support letter to the ROWRPD Corporate Office located at 26577 State Hwy 18, Rimforest, CA 92378, or email your support to Karen Reams our General Manager at email@example.com. Your support for the potential acquisition of the County’s Lake Gregory Regional Park facility is also appreciated. We encourage you to send an email to Janice Rutherford, County Supervisor and let her know you agree with her that the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District should be given the opportunity to manage and improve the Lake Gregory Regional Park facility. Janice’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her office phone number is (909) 387-4833.
On behalf of the entire Rim of the World Recreation and Park District Board and dedicated staff and the many recreation service contractors that are offering unique District programs to the community, thank you for your positive input and support.
Lawrence A. Mainez,
Board Chair, Rim of the World Recreation and Park District
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”