Cypress Parks

One of the issues that continues to be raised related to Measure A and Measure L has to do with parks and open space.  I love the parks and recreation programs we have in Cypress.  My wife and I spend a significant amount of time volunteering at the events hosted by the Recreation and Community Services Department.  As a result of the parks and open space concerns, I decided to look into this issue further.

 After the recent budget workshop that the Cypress City Council had, I decided to thoroughly read the proposed 2013-14 city budget as well as the city's audited financial statement for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012 to better understand the financial condition of the city and the funding for recreation and parks.  I followed up with questions of city staff and one of the questions I asked about was funding for parks.  One of the things I was reminded of was a 2011 survey that the city had conducted to gain a sense from the community if they would support a bond sale to upgrade existing parks and add recreation amenities.   The last time a park bond was issued was 1974. 

The survey found that there wasn't sufficient support for a bond sale.  The survey also found that most people are pleased with our current park and recreation services.  When you look at page 32 of the summary of the survey, you will find that "Purchasing property for and developing new parks" was of least importance to those surveyed. 

If you look at how Recreation and Parks are funded, they receive a formula based portion of the property tax allocation from the state along with any fees for services they receive.  In studying the city budget, you will find that there already aren't sufficient funds to appropriately maintain our existing parks and address deferred maintenance needs.  As such, even if a property owner was to provide land for a new park, it is not only very expensive to develop land into a park, it is also very expensive to maintain the parks. 

I know some people have suggested that we could get money for the acquisition and maintenance of parks and open space from the county or the state.  The golf course has been vacant for 9 years yet no such interest has been shown for such a development.  

While the development of the property in Measure A and Measure L will be beneficial to the property owners, the development of the property will also be beneficial for the city.  The new homes that will be built as a result of Measure A will require the payment of fees by the developer that are restricted by law for our parks.  The development will bring new jobs as well as new on-going revenue sources.  Given the economic challenges of the past years and the aging infrastructure in our city, new revenue is important for our city to sustain the outstanding financial status it has had over the years.

It is clearly understood and cannot be overstated, that any development needs to fit within the types of projects the city already has.  We need to work diligently to ensure that we don't have projects that create hazardous and unhealthy conditions to our residents.

With the deed restrictions, Measure A will provide a great development for our city.  The project that came about as a result of Measure L is still a work in progress and we need to ensure that it evolves into a good project for our city, our residents, and our neighboring community.

It is important to remember that there is a likely possibility that at some point in the future, the race course property will be considered for new development.  A portion of the race course property could be a great location for a park.  Those that are passionate about expanded park space should be working now to seek funding sources so that when the time comes to consider any new development on the race course property, there are sources available to acquire, development, and maintain new park land.  While there are many people that have indicated a desire for new park land, the referenced survey conducted two years ago demonstrates that there is city wide satisfaction with the existing parks and recreation services and the funding for the acquisition and development of new parks is not a very high priority. 

George Pardon

Cypress Resident for 23 years

Asst. Director of CFRD