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Changes ahead for popular park

The board of Penn Valley’s Western Gateway Park will meet Wednesday to discuss problems facing the popular gathering place, as well as a plan to turn it around.

The park has suffered from deferred maintenance, including an outdated irrigation system, brought on by lower property tax revenue and mitigation fees.

“Part of the problem is that infrastructure has caught up with us,” said Bill Howland, chairman of the Western Gateway Regional Recreation and Park District Board.



Renovating the ball field and the park’s irrigation system will also be discussed at the meeting, he said.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Buttermaker’s Cottage at the Penn Valley park.




Howland is expected to be the only board member at Wednesday’s meeting because the other members have prior commitments.

The park, made popular by its disc golf course, baseball fields and dog park, is not in jeopardy of closing, but a number of changes in spending and prioritizing will be a requirement of the board’s future, Howland said.

“We just need to refocus,” he said.

In recent weeks, the board has met with the county’s executive officer, Rick Haffey, and private individuals to look at special improvements and park policy as the board moves ahead, according to Howland.

The park has one full-time and three part-time employees.

Absences of two board members will postpone all action until a special meeting one week from Wednesday, Howland said.

The five-seat board was reduced to three when board members Gerry Garcia and Michael Green resigned from their seats.

Two candidates have been selected to fill the vacated seats, but will require board action.

They include a retired Sheriff’s deputy and a bookkeeper with skills that will help with the newly formed safety and audit committees, Howland said.

Board members must come up with a master plan in order to tap into about $300,000 the county is holding for the park’s use.

Among issues at hand are a review of the annual audit process, the selection of a CPA firm to prepare and review the district’s financial records and a review of the results of a “brainstorming session” for overview of district and park operations.

The board also will consider establishing a safety committee and review the job description for the maintenance department technician.

“A large part of the park depends on volunteers for committees we’re trying to establish,” Howland said.

For more information call 432-1990 or visit the park’s Web site at http://www.westerngatewaypark.com.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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