La Jolla Rec board to spend funds before City takes them

By year’s end, the La Jolla Rec Center, at 615 Prospect St., could have an overhead shade structure for the playground, new microphones for community use, possibly even WiFi. It could also get new ping-pong tables, a chessboard and new gymnastics equipment. That’s because the La Jolla Park & Rec, Inc. board (LJP&R, Inc.) is going to get spendy in the next few weeks to use up the funds in its bank account that are eligible to be taken by the City.

Other La Jolla Rec Center expenditures being considered include basketball court re-striping, security cameras, a playground chessboard and chess pieces, replacement of metal tables with lightweight ones, costs associated with new storage for chairs and tables, gymnastics equipment, benches and planters along Draper Avenue, and subsidizing piano lessons/scholarships/awards.

This course of action was discussed at the LJP&R Inc. meeting Nov. 29 at the Rec Center, and exact purchases will be voted upon at a special meeting Dec. 13.

The plan was prompted by an opinion from San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott that all money collected by the various rec councils is City funds. As it stands now, these councils get money from permits, classes and donations, and use it for building improvements, equipment replacement and other needs. However, Elliott maintains the practice violates City code, and she will not renew the Special Use Permit that allows rec centers to provide programming, when it expires Dec. 31, unless the policy is changed.

With the change, which is expected to be voted upon by the San Diego City Council Dec. 11 or 13, all money held by rec councils would be liquidated into the general fund on Jan. 2, and individual rec councils would be removed as financial agents. However, money donated to rec councils for specific projects could be kept in a separate 501(c)3 non-profit account, and presumably out of the City’s reach.

As such, the LJP&R, Inc. board spent the last few months determining how much of the money in its coffers was donated and how came from program fees. A reported total of $144,370 is in the account, with $16,615 from program and permit fees that could go to the City. The board unanimously voted Nov. 29 to move the balance (from donations) to its non-profit bank account.

With the “City’s money,” the board decided to purchase items to improve the Rec Center before it could be handed over. “We need to provide any activity we can for anyone who would like to use it with the money we have,” said LJP&R, Inc. president Mary Coakley-Munk. At the next meeting, the costs for these expenditures will be brought forward and voted upon.

Long-term projects, such as the playground renovation and a proposed underground garage, are on the back-burner in the interim.

In other Park & Rec news:

Electrical work underway: A City project to evaluate the Rec Center electrical system before it can be upgraded and replaced is in progress, but not everyone is pleased with the way it’s being carried out. Rec Center director Nicole Otjens said workers wrapped any pothole or opening, “but there were exposed wires and open spaces. With the toddlers we have here, we told them they needed to fix it.”

Once the City finishes its end of the work, SDG&E will review it and complete the project.

Futsal fantasy: Soccer enthusiast and City Council field rep Mauricio Medina made a presentation to introduce the board to a street-style form of soccer known as Futsal, and proposed striping an existing Rec Center basketball court so it could also be used for Futsal.

“Futsal is a type of street soccer played on a smaller scale on a smooth surface,” Medina explained. “It’s a great way to learn technique, and it takes soccer off the grass, requiring less lawn maintenance. It is usually played on a hard top, sport court and does not require cleats. There are Futsal balls that are smaller and weighted differently, and don’t travel as quickly as a regular ball.”

He said there are no formal Futsal courts in San Diego, but it was pointed out that Pacific Beach Rec Center has a Futsal program that “goes well over there.” The board agreed to vote upon the court striping at its next meeting.

Board leadership: A new slate of officers for the 2018-2019 year was presented and unanimously approved. The slate includes Coakley-Munk for president, Dan McCandless for vice president, Gail Forbes for treasurer and Jan Harris for secretary. Board members at-large include Bill Robbins, Jeff Gerwin, Hobe Schroder, Lizzet FitzCluster, Jill Peters, Don Goertz, Alexis McCandless, Pat Miller and Carolyn Parrish.

Bocce Ball update: Little progress was made toward the installation of a Bocce Ball court on the Rec Center front lawn (parallel to Draper Avenue), due to scheduling conflicts.

Resident Vito Formica, who is spearheading the effort, met with Eagle Scouts who could carry out the installation, and tried to meet with an architect, but the group could not connect as a whole. In October, LJP&R, Inc. voted to commit $7,000 to the installation of the court, and at its most recent meeting, voted to approve the development plans being taken to San Diego Department of Park & Rec for final approval, 8-3-0.

— LJP&R, Inc. will hold a meeting to review possible purchases, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

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