Oct. 2, 10:00 a.m.: Pushback Expected As Councilwoman Mungo Unveils $3+ Million El Dorado Park Artificial Turf Soccer Field; Former Councilwoman Schipske + Neighborhood Groups Plan In Person Protest
(Oct. 1, 2021, 10:15 a.m.) -- Public pushback is expected on Saturday Oct 2 at 10:00 a.m. from neighborhood groups, taxpayers and former Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske to counter CD 5 incumbent Stacy Mungo's boastful planned unveiling of a $3.1 million artificial turf soccer field in El Dorado Park west.
Signs reading "Three Millions Dollars For Fake Grass" and "Mungo Must Go" are among those expected from grassroots activists in response to Councilwoman Mungo -- who has to our knowledge has yet to publicly acknowledge the project's $3.1 million cost in her written materials (although city staff has repeatedly done so.)
Final Council approval of the project came Dec. 8 (Dec. 9 after midnight) on a 7-1 Council vote (Supernaw dissenting, Andrews exiting early) (LBREPORT.com coverage here. City staff's Sept. 24 press release previewing the Oct. 2 event acknowledges that the roughly $3.1 million project is funded with $2.35 million from the Measure A ("blank check") sales tax and $761,644 in one-time funds for City Council District Priority items.
The artificial turf field was opposed by The Eastside Voice, El Dorado Park South Neighborhood Association and veteran El Dorado Park advocate Ann Cantrell. Ms. Cantrell supported a new soccer field with natural, not artificial turf.
Former Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, aiming to replace Mungo in 2022, plans to attend the event (alongside 2700 Studebaker Rd.) and urges taxpayers to display and voice their opposition. "At a time our parks and streets are a mess, you need to tell City Council what you think of them spending $3.1 million on an artificial soccer field that can only be watered with our limited drinking water. Come to the grand opening of this field and let City Hall know what you're really thinking."
In her Sept. 28 "Neighborly News" newsletter, Councilwoman Mungo called it an "all weather soccer field" and said "parents, kids, and coaches [had} led this initiative" and "should be proud." (In multiple public proceedings, public testimony was overwhelmingly opposed.) "It was with a great amount of community input that resulted in what I believe is our best field revamp yet"
Mungo continued: "I'm proud to report that this project came in under budget and had a significant cost savings compared to other regional fields of the same caliber. This field provides a safer surface for kids to play, and will continue to do so for the next 20 years of use. It also requires very little down time for maintenance and inclement weather, which builds the capacity of our youth soccer leagues without having to seek additional field space."
(The project's construction/installation bids came in under expected costs but the project's total cost roughly doubled under Councilwoman Mungo's budget votes beyond what city staff initially told the public.)
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Leading up to the Oct. 2 event, a Sept. 24 Parks/Rec release said "Among the benefits of replacing natural grass with synthetic turf is reduced water use and better stormwater runoff management through subsurface drainage systems. The field does not require regular irrigation and has heat dissipating properties. Synthetic turf fields also have lower maintenance costs, are more accessible year-round than grass and have been shown to improve usability..."
But veteran El Dorado Park advocate Ann Cantrell counters that the artificial turf field will consume costly potable water instead of current reclaimed water, imposing additional fiscal (and arguably environmentally unfriendly) costs on taxpayers.
Councilwoman Mungo has noted that the project began under Councilwoman Schipske. City staff initially told the public and the Council that the El Dorado Park's artificial field's cost was covered within the FY14 budget (under Schipske) and FY 15 (under Mungo) to complete three artificial turf fields (Admiral Kidd, Seaside Park and El Dorado Park).
Artificial turf fields have since been installed at four other LB parks: Seaside Park, Admiral Kidd Park, the Drake-Chavez Park greeenbelt and Molina Park.
Councilwoman Mungo has noted that the project began under her predecessor, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske. [Ms. Schipske is now an announced candidate to replace Mungo in 2022; at least one other candidate has already surfaced and others may do so.) However city staff initially told the public and the Council that the El Dorado Park's artificial field's cost was covered within the FY14 budget (under Schipske) and FY 15 (under Mungo) to complete three artificial turf fields (Admiral Kidd, Seaside Park and El Dorado Park).
On November 21 2019, city staff told LB's Parks/Recreation Commission that $3.6 million was available to cover all three fields, but internal city records, obtained by LBREPORT.com under the CA Public Record Act, show within months it became clear that the sum for the El Dorado Park field was much as $900,000 short because it was consumed by installation of the Admiral Kidd and Seaside Park fields.
City staff hasn't denied -- and twice acknowledged in publicly agendized items prior to Council votes -- the project's full $3,1 million cost, which LBREPORT.com and the Beachcomber reported while Mungo continued to deny it. In her Dec. 6 "Neighborly News" newsletter, Mungo stated that she is "So glad to see this improvement has come in well under the original estimated and inflated cost of $3.1 million...Please note that we did confirm with our Public Works team that the initial posted agenda item contained an error in the fiscal impact statement regarding the total cost. They have committed to correcting it before consideration Tuesday."
There was no "correction" by city staff before or during the Dec. 8 Council item giving the project final approval.
And city staff's press release for the Oct. 2 event acknowledges the field's full $3.1 million cost.
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