Council Contracts with Valley-Wide to Operate West-Side Parks

After months of discussion, research and public testimony, the Menifee City Council Wednesday night voted 4-1 to contract with Valley-Wide Recreation and Parks District to operate all parks on the west side of the 215 Freeway,

Valley-Wide has operated parks on the east side of the city for about 25 years and will continue to do so. The council's action Wednesday night authorized City Manager Rob Johnson to formalize a three-year contract with Valley-Wide, according to the financial terms presented by Valley-Wide officials at the previous City Council meeting April 30.

At that meeting, Valley-Wide General Manager Dean Wetter stated that Valley-Wide could provide services for all west-side parks and recreational facilities for $586,104 per year. That figure was about $90,000 less than the amount estimated by city staff for the city to maintain those parks.

In addition, some council members said they were influenced by public testimony and Valley-Wide's solid reputation in running east-side parks and recreation programs.

Valley-Wide's jurisdiction on the west side of the city will include the Kay Ceniceros Senior Center and Lazy Creek Park Recreation Center. A substitute motion that would have allowed the city to take control of those facilities, supported by council member John Denver and Mayor Scott Mann, was defeated.

Mann was the only dissenting vote to the original motion.

Valley-Wide will officially take control of west-side parks July 1. As indicated by Mann at the April 30 meeting, summer programs traditionally run at Lazy Creek Park and other west-side parks will continue under the supervision of Valley-Wide.

The city's proposal to control west-side parks included expanding its new Community Services Department from three employees to nine. On behalf of Valley-Wide, Wetter stated at the April 30 meeting that some if not all of the Lazy Creek Recreation Center recreation workers currently employed by Riverside County would be retained.

"I think most of us came into this with a bias that the city should take over the west-side parks," said council member Wallace Edgerton, who introduced the motion. "I still think they would do a good job. However, after a lot of investigating and digging, I determined that Valley-Wide is intact and doing a marvelous job.

"We've done a lot of research on this and heard from residents. The workshop on this lasted four hours. I believe it's in the best interests of the community to allow Valley-Wide to take over the west side for some period of time -- say three years."

Edgerton's motion was seconded by council member Greg August.

"I apologize to Rob Johnson and city staff for what appears to be a turnaround of the council's position," August said. "Staff was acting at the direction of the council. I believe at this time, it's in the city's best interests to go with Valley-Wide."


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