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Looking ahead at stories affecting the Media City

As 2018 begins, these are some stories that will likely be developing in Burbank during the new year:

New operator takes over outdoor roller rink at Ralph Foy Park

The Burbank City Council in late December awarded P.I.M. Inc., the company that runs the Los Angeles Kings Valley Ice Center, a five-year agreement to be the new operator of the Burbank Roller Hockey Facility at Ralph Foy Park.

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The company has agreed to make substantial renovations to the facility, which has been in dire need of repairs for the past two years. The major changes — which include putting in place a new type of flooring that can allow for different types of sports to be played other than roller hockey, replacing the sideboards and installing a new audio system and scoreboard as well as new nets — are required by the city to be completed during the first year of operation by P.I.M.

Other improvements include renovating the player bench area, adding a canopy system over the rink and industrial fans to allow for summer use and replacing exterior rink lighting and spectator benches.

Frank Dalessandro, the facility's former operator, claimed that P.I.M. would not be able to make the renovations for $100,000, which is what the company is proposing to spend.

Systemic city budget shortfall still looming

The Burbank City Council and city staff have been working to try and find ways to address the growing budget deficit expected over the next five years.

As of November, officials in the city's Financial Services Department said the deficit for fiscal year 2017-18 is projected to be about $9.4 million, but the shortfall is expected to grow to about $27.4 million during the 2022-23 fiscal year if the city does not start addressing the issue.

City Council members have been looking at various ways to lessen the adverse impact on the budget, which was mainly caused by deferred payments on the city's pension costs.

Council members have talked about a possible sales tax measure to help generate revenue, and the recent approval of a new operator of the Burbank Roller Hockey Facility at Ralph Foy Park is expected to generate roughly $2.1 million during the first five years of its operation.

Fine-tuning the single-family homes guidelines and rules

Last January, the Burbank City Council approved a new set of guidelines and rules for single-family homes to address the so-called "mansionization" that has taken place in the city for about three years.

However, many of the projects council members had to review last year were processed under the Interim Development Control Ordinance, which was put in place as city staff developed a more permanent set of rules to address the issue.

The City Council knew the rules passed in early 2017 would not be perfect and would change as issues arose. Such a change might occur this year after a hearing was held regarding a project on Grinnell Drive that includes a 1,600-square-foot basement.

Many opponents of mansionization in Burbank said that the square footage of the basement should have been included in the floor-area-ratio of the house. However, the interim ordinance, which the project falls under, does not state that a basement should be included in those figures.

The fate of DeBell Golf Course

The Burbank City Council has put a lot of trust and faith into Scott Scozzola, operator of DeBell Golf Course. Last May, council members agreed to terminate the golf course's enterprise fund for the 2017-18 fiscal year and move all of the assets, liabilities and future revenue for the facility into the city's General Fund.

In turn, the city provided Scozzola with four months of rent forgiveness and modified the lease payment to allow him to try and breathe some life into the fading city-owned golf course.

The par-71, 18-hole golf course opened in 1959 and has since evolved to include a clubhouse and a par-3 course.

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There were 56,782 rounds of golf played at the course during the 2012-13 fiscal year, but player turnout has slumped over the years. During the 2015-16 fiscal year, there were 51,200 rounds of golf played.

Burbank tried to address the decrease in 2009 by loaning Scozzola $2.5 million from the General Fund and emptying the golf course's enterprise fund, which had $6.5 million in it, to build a new clubhouse.

Although the new facility was constructed, it did not draw in the number of golfers and patrons the city had hoped it would.

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