Thursday, May 31, 2018

By Chris Frost

Special to the Tri County Sentry

 

The Oxnard City Council awarded a contract to Colorado Design Workshop Inc. for the city's parks and recreation master plan during the May 22, meeting.

The contract with design workshop is for $ 323,210.

Parks Department employee Eric Humel said they released an RFP (request for proposal) in May 2017 and did interviews in July.

"We selected four consultants to be interviewed, and design workshop was selected," he said.

The city approved Measure O (school improvement) funds for the project, he said, in February 2018.

"The main strength of this consultant was their multi-disciplinary staffing plan," he said. "They did have strong responsiveness to the scope of work we were requesting."

He said the company also shows robust community engagement methodologies and experience.

He said phase one of the project starts with community alignment.

"We're going to work with key stakeholders to launch the project and create a shared vision and create a broad community representation," he said.

That will accomplish that through focus group meetings, he said, plus community workshops, online surveys, and other facilitation methods.

Humel said there would be inventory analysis for phase 2 which includes collecting and evaluating available data from the city.

"In phase three, we'll have idea generation and a shared vision," he said. "We're going to be developing the primary content element for the master plan, integrate them and confirm them through this process," he said.  

Phase 3 will be plan production and adoption, he said, which will synthesize the first three phases to create the master plan.

"It will be accessible by the community and lead to actionable steps," he said.

The master plan will have a project team composed of city staff, he said, plus an advisory committee with staff and two of the parks and recreation commissioners.

"We'll put together a public engagement plan, and engage with stakeholders through a number of different meetings to create a shared vision," he said. "We'll also do focus group meetings for a more in-depth discussion."

He said there would also be community workshops for more broad community input.

"There will be two rounds of these workshops to understand public values and park access," he said.

The second round of workshops will evaluate plan proposals, he said, and identify tradeoffs and priorities.

"We're also going to be doing online surveys to generate a statistically valid analysis of use patterns and vision," he said.

During phase two, Humel said they would gather data from the previous parks master plan.

"This is the first parks and recreation master plan the city will be doing," he said.  "It's a good collaboration between the Culture and Community Services Department and the Public Works Department."

He said they would also do GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping and analysis of the current parks and recreation system.

"We'll be doing a lot of interviews in this phase," he said.

The plan will also have base maps for analysis, he said, to identify service gaps and recreational trends in the community.

"We want to be doing some suitability and opportunity mapping, including identifying vacant lands that could be potential resources and where we can integrate some stormwater management improvements," Humel said.

During phase three, he said there would be idea generation and prioritization.

"The concept plan we are going to be doing is a 30 percent phase before we evaluate it in the second round of community workshops and before the online survey," he said. 

The plan will also look at park expansion, he said, plus potential focus areas.

"What are the capital improvement needs and what are some basic cost estimates for what's needed," he said. "We're going to assess our recreational programming and look for ways to improve our operations."

From there, he said they would draft a master plan that includes a funding component.

"We'll come up with a 95 percent draft for review by our various commissions and council and get the public input on that," he said. "This is the plan for the next year."

During public comments, Gabriel Teran supports the parks and recreation master plan award.

"It's been a long process in identifying the firm who will take this on," he said. "As part of the parks and recreation commission, I enjoyed being part of that process."

Councilman Oscar Madrigal said he supports the master plan.

"I think it has a quality of life component," he said.  

Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez said you could see the time and effort put into the plan.

"Proposition 68 (parks, environment, and water funding) will bring tremendous benefits to our city," he said. "There's a possibility that some of that funding could go towards taking back our beach from the Mandalay and Oren Beach generating stations."

Councilman Bryan MacDonald said he fully supports the master plan.

"I think it's the right thing to do at the right time," he said. "I've been having several discussions with city management staff and others about future development."

He said one proposal talked about taking park space away.

"I indicated to them that I would never support that in any way, shape or form," he said. "I think we need to be very cognizant of what we do in our park and how we are going to improve them."

Councilman Bert Perello supported the master plan but said whoever the new city manager is must be held accountable to what Interim City Manager Scott Whitney has done.   

"Mr. Whitney created a team that was called a red team," he said. "They went out and hustled money and got it done."

He said the city needs to be in front of the line for Proposition 68 funding.

"You don't need to be a hog; you just need to be in front," he said.

Mayor Tim Flynn said some councils in the past were anxious to see it come forward.

"Without this master plan, the city was able to prioritize certain areas," he said. "It wasn't necessarily that  money was distributed equally throughout the whole city for parks."

At one point, he said there was a big focus on College Park which would be the home of "Big League Dreams" where about $18 million went into the park.

"A lot of money went into College Park," he said. "It's not that College Park didn't deserve the $18 million, it was the case that with such few resources how could it be more thoroughly distributed throughout the city."

He said parks unify the city.

"Right now, we are deficient and so densely populated that people from all parts of town go to areas and overcrowd certain parks."