Two local agencies appear to have found some common ground over parks following a discussion by the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Parks District's board at its July 15 meeting.
Matt Young, general manager of the parks district, presented the board with a draft response letter to one sent by Ed Kennedy, president of the Golden Hills Community Services District's board of directors.
Kennedy's letter had addressed some concerns over development of Meadowbrook Park, including the revisal of the park district's specific plan for park to include improvements not listed, as well as details for planned improvements and dates.
Kennedy noted that an agreement between the two districts, rooted in a 1986 agreement for the land the park is located at, requires the approval of Golden Hills for any additional recreational facilities beyond the initial design plan.
The parks district operates and owns Meadowbrook Park following a 1986 agreement with Golden Hills. Past concerns between Golden Hills and the parks district include playground equipment previously removed from the park.
Young's letter, drafted in response to the board, noted that the purpose of a conceptual site plan allows for capital improvement planning, agency fundraising, engineering and procurement while being flexible to budgetary concerns.
According to Young, the equipment has been ordered, and the district will send out requests for proposals to have it installed.
Young had noted that the conceptual plan had undergone great public input, as well as development from staff and board members from both agencies, as well as community members, and asked Golden Hills CSD not to stall the process in implementing improvements to the park.
“I think we owe it to Golden Hills to respond,” Young told the parks district board on July 15. “I think it's important that we continue to foster an open and honest relationship.”
He noted that relationship between the two agencies has not “always been a good relationship” and wants to change that.
"The future of TVRPD, if it is to be viable, lies in Golden Hills," said Young. "We want to honor agreements."
When presented to the parks district board for input, a few members held some reserves that Young's letter was a bit lengthy.
Directors Brian Duhart and Craig Mifflin suggested that the letter be a bit more informal, with a follow-up meeting between interested parties to hammer out solutions to any concerns.
“A much more condensed response with a meeting following that, and looking everyone in the eyeballs, and saying 'Hey, look, let's have some cocktail weenies, Diet Coke and let's talk everything over,'” Duhart said.
He added that he understood Young's position in writing the letter, but felt it wasn't necessary in a formal setting.
Mifflin agreed, noting that while he was appointed by the City of Tehachapi to sit on the board, Golden Hills had promise.
“I see Golden Hills as so crucial and important to TVRPD,” Mifflin said. “There is so much potential to have facilities, especially at Meadowbrook Park.”
Mifflin said he understood “there is 30 years of bad blood” between Golden Hills and the parks district, but relationships are crucial to making positive things happen.
“We are not trusted by Golden Hills, and that's not going to change overnight,” Mifflin said. “In order to regain that trust, we have to be up front, build these relationships and we have to show some results.”
Gayle Stewart, chair of the parks district board, noted that the matter was for discussion only, and to place all the information on the table.
“This was a briefing for all of us so we can get on the same page and so that people are aware that these things (agreements) do exist, and this how you have to work with them (Golden Hills) even though the documents are 30 years old,” Stewart said.
Kennedy, the Golden Hills CSD board president, attended the meeting and called it a good discussion with promising results.
“We will do our best to make sure it is a positive relationship,” said Kennedy.
At its July 17 meeting, Ed Kennedy, president of the Golden Hills CSD board of directors, asked staff to place the discussion and possible approval of the Meadowbrook Conceptual Plan on the agenda for its next regular meeting on Aug. 21.