Fadelli Statement on
April 2, 2019 City Council Meeting
Re: Parks & Recreational Master Plan
Fix the Parks Now – as we deal with Fire Concerns
I grew up at Poinsett Park in El Cerrito – and it made a big difference in my life to have that place and those activities available to me (also to my mom). Decades later I am honored to be here tonight discussing how to maintain and enhance the parks and recreational system in my city.
I ran for City Council, in part, to “protect the Quality of life” of El Cerrito which importantly means protecting and enhancing our parks and the pool – but keeping our quality of life here must also mean:
- Protecting AGAINST FIRE
- BUILDING A LIBRARY
- PLACEMAKING IN EL CERRITO ALONG SAN PABLO AVE.
- CREATING NEW HOUSING
- PLANNING FOR A NEW PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING AND SENIOR CENTER
All of these are Important – but we have to deal with a tight city budget still recovering from the recession.
El Cerrito is growing – more than 1700 units are in the planning process – and this report estimates that the need for recreation will increase as our population of young children and older citizens also increase.
But finding the funding to have the ultimate parks system will also be a financial challenge to achieve. Staff has heard some of my priorities tonight, and I look forward to working with them in ways that allow a budgetary plan over the next decade to support shoring up and enhancement of our parks and recreational facilities.
BUT I want to express a word of caution and maybe a couple guideposts going forward. This impressive report begins with a conclusion:
“Overall the community is satisfied with the City’s existing supply of and access to parks and recreational facilities.”
So FIRST, let’s “Fix it First.” Let’s put talk about enhancement and additional parks aside for a while until we fix what immediately needs attention – the $9 million price tag we have heard it will cost to fix what is broken.
Second, I am pleased that Measure V is now providing additional revenue to the City and that that amount may continue to grow — but I don’t want it assumed that it will automatically go to this deriving need.
We have publicly discussed that this city needs a reserve fund and that we have immediate needs to address fire dangers in El Cerrito.
When I was out discussing Measure V with voters last year, I said my priority for these funds was to use them for fire and emergency relief – and I usually got agreement with the resident I was talking with.
That is still my priority – along with building our city reserve.
So, I want staff to know I have no problem with them viewing revenues from the real property transfer tax as potential dollars for parks and recreational purposes. BUTI WANT THERE TO BE A NEXUS WITH FIRE PREVENTION…and I think there are enough needs in this report in the Hillside natural area and elsewhere to respond to that need.
It would be great for staff to come up with such a list of those applications where fire prevention would be one of the benefits. I want to keep track of the funding coming in from this new property tax and think it is only fair that we use it to save property where possible. Preventing fires in our recreational areas from destroying property is where I want to be.