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081319-guad-council

Guadalupe Mayor Ariston Julian listens to a presentation by city staff during Tuesday's meeting. 

As part of the city’s efforts to prioritize recreation and other activities for kids, the Guadalupe City Council voted Tuesday to reconstitute its Recreation and Parks Commission, which was eliminated seven years ago as a cost-saving measure.

The five-member commission, which will meet at least once a month, will be responsible for making regular reports to the City Council and guiding the development of youth programs.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to create the committee with a 4-0 vote. Councilman Tony Ramirez was absent.

Each council member would get to nominate one member for the commission, according to Interim City Administrator Robert Perrault. Nominations would come from a list of candidates who have submitted letters of interest in joining the commission.

Perrault said the commission’s meeting would count as a city body under the Brown Act, meaning all its meetings must be publicly noticed in advance.

The council’s action comes just weeks after it approved hiring a part-time recreation coordinator as part of an effort to address the needs of city residents, around a third of whom are under the age of 18.

The commission members are expected to work alongside the LeRoy Park stakeholders group, which is helping oversee a $4.5 million renovation of the park and its community center with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money.

The renovation, which is scheduled to begin construction next year, includes redoing the building’s facade, roof, bathrooms, HVAC, and making the structure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

City officials hope to complete the renovation by early 2021.

Councilman Eugene Costa Jr, who cited revitalizing the city’s youth programs as his top priority before the election, said he was glad the city was moving forward with the commission.

“It’s good to see that this is moving forward to get our youth back into programs that they need,” he said.

One resident asked if it was wise to create the commission when the city was aiming to reduce its deficit and balance its budget.

Mayor Ariston Julian said the city had 3,800 kids under 18 and no recreation programs.

Julian also noted that unlike the previous commission, where members received small stipends per meeting, the new commission members will not be paid.

“I think it’s a very wise decision,” he said.

In other business, the City Council received an update on the status of its general plan update, which is meant to lay out the direction of the city’s physical development for the next 20 years.

Contract City Planner Larry Appel said a draft general plan prepared by Cal Poly students last year would serve as a start, but the document was too inadequate to adopt.

Appel suggested public workshops to refine the goals and policies laid out in the draft plan, followed by hiring a consultant to complete the process and environmental review.

A general plan workshop will be held sometime in September, Perrault said.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.