La Jolla Rec Board to fund events through 2018, but says City needs to ‘do its fair share’: Members frustrated over any lack of progress

To ensure that the special events offered at the La Jolla Rec Center through the rest of the year remain consistent, the La Jolla Park & Recreation non-profit board is stepping up financially to work with the City to guarantee these events happen, albeit reluctantly.

There are three more special programs scheduled for this year — the Halloween Carnival on Oct. 27, the Senior Dance on Nov. 16 and the Lunch with Santa on Dec. 15. The City has said it can provide a to-be-determined amount of funding for them, and the La Jolla Park & Recreation non-profit board will provide the rest.

In the past, the City had one account for the La Jolla Rec Center into which the fees for classes and donations were deposited, and events were paid for from that account. Now, the City is under a new policy that requires two separate accounts: one into which donations would be deposited (managed by the La Jolla Park & Rec non-profit board) and another that holds fees and costs associated with classes and rental costs (managed by the City).

Further, there was previously one board that oversaw everything that pertained to the La Jolla Rec Center, and now there are two boards: the La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group (LJRAG) that serves as an advisory group to the City, and the La Jolla Park & Rec non-profit board that manages donations.

A discussion about how to have these events in such a time of transition was had at the LJRAG meeting Sept. 26 at the Rec Center, where San Diego Park & Rec area manager Rosalia Castruita indicated the future of special events was not decided from the City’s point of view.

“As of right now, our department is not canceling any events, but we haven’t discussed upcoming events. We have to discuss, as a department, how we are going to allocate funds. … A lot of (how events will proceed) have to do with funding,” she said. “We will not know about future events until we have our department budget meeting.”

A date had not been set for the meeting, Castruita only promising “very soon.”

However, LJRAG member Gail Forbes noted it is one of the City’s goals to “ensure that recreation center funds are used for the continuation of recreation programs, activities and events” and added, “I think the assumption of someone reading that would be that most of the programs, activities and events will be replicated as far as possible in their traditional manner.”

Uncertain as to how to proceed, LJRAG member Pat Miller opined: “I don’t think we should be canceling events because the City hasn’t been able to produce a budget.”

However, LJRAG chair Mary Coakley-Munk said: “It feels like, at least to me, we are being squeezed to fund many of these events that City doesn’t want to fund. It feels to me that the City should have some responsibility for hosting these events. The City needs to step up and do their fair share and not expect the non-profits to fund everything. It’s not right.”

But with the Halloween Carnival a month away — and following pleas for the Senior Dance from La Jolla Newcomers member Sarah Forster who said dozens of new residents attended the last one and had a great time — Coakley-Munk pressed Castruita for answers. She asked what, if anything, the City could provide. Castruita repeated her original answer that decisions would be made at the yet-to-be-scheduled department meeting.

As a solution, Miller recommended the fall and winter events normally held at the Rec Center continue with the City providing whatever funds the budget allows and the non-profit board contributing the difference. It passed unanimously with a sunset clause of December, so the practice doesn’t continue into next year.

In other Rec Center news:

Leaning tree: After a mysterious white substance was discovered on the tree that fronts the Rec Center, that is now leaning toward the building and growing in that direction, the City arborist investigated and discovered that a bug that may have weakened it. But the arborist found the tree was “not dying” Castruita said, as was previously the concern.

“The tree is curved, but a lot of times the trees curve because of the sun and are attracted to water. We are looking into whether the tree can be staked to grow in a different direction, but we don’t want to traumatize the tree,” she added.

Electrical project: A full power shut-off at the Rec Center building, its courts and the La Jolla Tennis Club is scheduled, following the completion of an electrical project to upgrade the power systems during the weekend of Oct. 6. “Everything is tentative, but we are hopeful SDG&E will come in and approve everything, and if they do, we anticipate a power shut-off at 3 p.m. Oct. 6 until Monday, Oct. 8 at 8 a.m. with the new power source,” Castruita said.

When the electrical project is complete, the basketball courts would be eligible for resurfacing, including re-striping for different games such as pickle-ball and Futsal.

Bocce boffo: Castruita also said she was “looking into” what it will take to get the bocce ball courts installed. These were approved last September at the request of local players.

A frustrated Coakley-Munk responded that there have been similar reports for a year.

“We’ve lost the Eagle Scout that was going to do this project, so someone needs to carry the message to the City that we need answers. We need to get moving,” she said. “This is just not fair. I have not been on any committee in the last 15 years that has run around in circles like we have, and accomplished absolutely nothing. We all have so much else going on, and if this is how the City treats La Jolla, it’s just not right.”

Water worries: Concerned Rec Center user Rick Dagon inquired about why the water cooler was recently removed from the weight room.

“Not having a water system in a gym is a health and safety concern,” he said. “I know we can bring water, but it gets hot in there. I don’t know of another gym that doesn’t have water.”

Confirming the water cooler had been removed, Castruita noted there is a water fountain outside the building and that the water cooler was taken out because the contract with the water company expired. “I have a pilot program through which Rec Center funds buy the water cooler and City plumbers connect the water lines (that also go to drinking fountains),” she said. “We are seeing how the program goes at another rec center, and once we know it is successful, we’ll establish it here.”

— La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group next meets 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

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