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DANA POINT : City OKs Forming Committee on Parks

A divided City Council has voted to form a temporary committee to replace the commission that runs the 28-year-old, independent Capistrano Bay Park and Recreation District.

After being hit two years in a row by state budget cuts, the Capistrano Bay district voted last month to dissolve and merge its services with the city of Dana Point. The commission will hold its final meeting Dec. 16.

The seven-member committee will be formed next month for a term to expire Oct. 30. It will include four members of the Capistrano district, two members of the city’s cultural commission and one member of the human services commission.

The decision came on a 3-2 council vote last week. One of the dissenters was Mayor Judy Curreri, a former director of the independent park district. Curreri told the council that residents have historically favored keeping parks and recreation independent of other city functions.

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“I feel very strongly it needs to be a commission,” Curreri said. “We can re-evaluate this next autumn.”

Park commissioner Bob Wilberg agreed, saying the decision to form a committee goes “totally against the spirit and the intent with which we approached the merger.”

“I didn’t like the idea of merging, but I realized it had to happen,” Wilberg said. “But the intent was (that) the park board will stay on as a five-member group and the policies of the district would carry through.”

Wilberg said he was concerned that funds for park and recreation services be kept separate from other city funds. Otherwise, he said, “they will be gutted worse than the state did.”

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The council also directed the city staff to study possible consolidation of some city commissions into one large “super commission” that would include park and recreation duties.

Regarding the possibility of a super commission, Councilman Mike Eggers said, “The last thing I want to do is set up another bureaucracy in Dana Point.” Once such a commission is formed, he said, people “will be scrambling to get (on) it.”

The council gave the city staff a June 30 deadline to return with a report on the possible consolidation of city commissions.


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