Members of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) were unable to reach a decision Thursday night regarding a proposal to sell Pardall Gardens, leaving the matter open for further discussion.
The board also heard allegations of misconduct against IVRPD director Diane Conn, but again took no action. Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, which took place at 961 Embarcadero del Mar, and lasted more than three hours. Attendees gave input as to whether they thought the board should place the proposed sale of Pardall Gardens — intended to raise funds for a new community center in I.V. — on the November 2005 ballot. The park is located on Pardall Road next to Kung Pao Kitchen and is estimated to sell for about $500,000.
Derek Johnson, IVRPD general manager, said the community center, which will be located in Estero Park, is estimated to cost $6 million — rather than the previous $13.5 million estimate for the project. He said a recent loss in funding from the Orfalea Family Foundation, the primary financial supporter of the community center, forced IVRPD to find new sources of money. For the community center project, he said the IVRPD only has $2.5 million.
IVRPD chair Logan Green said the board must approve the sale of the gardens by a two-thirds vote. If the item appears on this year’s ballot, Green said, I.V. residents would then have to approve the rezoning of the area from recreational land to low-income housing by a two-thirds majority, and subsequently approve selling Pardall Gardens to fund the community center.
Johnson said the community center would serve the needs of the community better than the gardens do.
“The demographics of I.V. have changed,” Johnson said. “There are more teens and families. Does Pardall Gardens serve the community in a way that meets the community in current recreation demand?”
Green said he thinks the park is dismal, but that the energy required to get two thirds of the community to vote to sell the park could be put to better use.
Conn said she would fight against a decision to try to sell the park.
“If it is put on the ballot, I will campaign against it,” Conn said. “It goes against our mission.”
Charlie Jones, an I.V. resident and former IVRPD director, said the Pardall Gardens proposal led him to attend the meeting, which he said was the first IVRPD meeting he had attended in 12 years.
“I oppose vociferously the selling of any park land for the purpose of laying concrete,” Jones said. “Open space turns into concrete and asphalt, but concrete and asphalt never goes back to open space.”
Jeff Walsh, another former IVRPD director, also opposed the sale of Pardall Gardens.
“The community suffers from a lack of open space,” Walsh said. “I think it is ludicrous to consider any land surplus.”
Walsh later stormed out of the meeting.
IVRPD director Bryan Brown said thinks the board has spent enough time discussing Pardall Gardens.
“I think it is time we stop talking about it,” Brown said. “We have heard an outcry of support for a community center, but right now, there is no money … It’s time to build a community center, and if selling Pardall Gardens is the way to do it, then do it.”
The board also heard allegations made by Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee member Craig Geyer, who accused Conn of violating seven district policy violations — including being disrespectful and a poor representative of the IVRPD — after an incident at the last board meeting, in which Conn allegedly laughed at Geyer.
The board members acknowledged that Conn was in violation of five of the seven policies, but said they recognize the value of her service to the IVRPD and elected to take no further action.
Geyer, also a local business owner, said his only hope in presenting the allegations against Conn was that the motion would get passed and entered into the minutes.
“By not passing the motion, it’s not even a slap on the hand,” Geyer said.
Roger Lagerquist, another former IVRPD director, brought up another instance in which Conn allegedly wished a heart attack upon him.
Conn said she did not wish a heart attack upon Lagerquist, and said she does not think she is deserving of such criticism.
“I feel I should be given some grace.” Conn said. “But if you want to pass a motion, you pass a motion. Whatever.”
Conn said she would try to improve her conduct for future meetings.
“According to the board members, I have been disruptive,” Conn said. “That’s not my goal, and I’ll try and work on that.”