By Sam Richards
(Tuesday, May 31) Going with recommendations made by its Planning Committee, the GRF Board last week approved several changes to its draft Facilities Master Plan, removing some projects from the plan, adding others to a project “wish list” and giving others a higher priority than before.
At its regular May 26 meeting, the Board voted unanimously to move the following proposals from the master plan “wish list” to a “pipeline” list that Jeff Matheson, GRF’s director of resident services, described as “next in line” for consideration after the near-, short- and long-term projects in the 10-year plan:
- A long-discussed Satellite Recycled Water Facility (construction phase), which is already being studied as a way to keep Rossmoor’s golf courses alive and green, both as a golf amenity and as a fire break;
- Dollar Clubhouse renovations, including seismic and mechanical system upgrades, improved ADA access (including an elevator), flooring, restroom upgrades and more;
- A new multipurpose room at Gateway that would host a second dining option and additional meeting rooms;
- Hillside Pool building renovation, including locker rooms and the pump room – but not a previously discussed ramp into the pool;
- Improvements to Sportsmen’s Park, primarily including adding an accessible “path of travel” from the parking lot;
- Completion of an ongoing project to replace grass in the street medians with more drought-resistant plants and other landscaping.
The Board also on May 26 voted to remove four prospective projects from consideration. They are:
- A permanent shade structure and stage at Gateway’s Peacock Plaza;
- A playground at Hillside, proposed with residents’ grandchildren in mind;
- A 200-seat amphitheater at Dollar Park;
- Walking paths around Rossmoor.
Also, the following projects remain on a lesser priority “wish list,” which may be added if funding becomes available. They are:
- A shade structure for the lawn bowling greens;
- An access ramp for the Hillside pool;
- Improvements to the Hillside Clubhouse and Mat House.
For the past year and a half, there has been voluminous discussion about these and other components of the GRF Facilities Master Plan, a long-term working plan for major Rossmoor improvement projects. But there was little discussion on this day.
“In my opinion, we are in a good place with this list,” GRF Board President Dwight Walker said before a 7-0 Board vote to approve the recommendation.
The draft plan goes back to the Planning Committee for a final review, before coming back to the GRF Board in June for approval.
District A director appointed
The Board also appointed Carol Meehan, an 11-year Rossmoor resident, as the new District A director, to serve the remaining 11 months of the term of Paul Moderacki, who resigned on April 18.
Her seat comes up for a vote in May 2023.
Meehan is a retired teacher and computer company marketing worker, having taught at public and private elementary and middle schools in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and St. Louis. She also worked for the Control Data and Burroughs companies in the pre-PC era, marketing main-frame-based education programs and business software, and as an education specialist with the national Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
Walker said Meehan was one of three people who applied for appointment to the District A seat.
Immediately following her appointment, Meehan came up onto the dais (where a paper name plate awaited) and took part in two votes late in the meeting.
“We do not have an initiation” ritual, GRF Board Member Dale Harrington joked.
The Board voted to create a “Civility Awareness Task Force” to improve positivity and civility in Rossmoor, in light of a number of recent negative interactions between Rossmoor residents and staff that some employees cited as the reason for their departure.
This task force, GRF Board member Leanne Hamaji said, should comprise seven members, both GRF Board members and other Rossmoor residents,
Hamaji – who also has created a draft charter for the task force – had requested the discussion in April. Before that, Rossmoor CEO Tim O’Keefe had spoken out publicly about Rossmoor residents mistreating and disrespecting GRF staff to the point that some employees left GRF, in least in part because of the abuse. These departures, O’Keefe said, come at a time when GRF (and many other employers) are having a hard time finding new staff members to hire.
The Policy Committee will review the task force charter before the GRF Board takes any further action.
“We’re all under a lot of stress,” Hamaji said, emanating from various sources, including COVID and “partisan issues.” But it’s important, she added, to keep perspective.
“Ultimately, we live in a utopia here,” Hamaji said.
Open-flame grilling restrictions
The GRF Board also heard the first reading for new restrictions on cooking/grilling and other “open flame” applications on GRF property during “Red Flag” warnings, when elevated temperatures, low humidity and strong winds pose the greatest wildfire danger.
The new policy applies only to all areas of GRF-owned land, not Mutuals.
Cashion said notice of Red Flag warnings will be given over the Rossmoor Nixle alert system, by flying an actual red flag at Rossmoor’s entry gate and via sandwich-board signs.
The Board will vote to approve the new rule in June.
Property tax payment appeal
In trying to further clarify the circumstances behind GRF missing property tax payments in April for three cooperative Mutuals, O’Keefe told the Board that he’s willing to go straight to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors should an appeal of a prospective $761,000 late-payment penalty be rejected.
But O’Keefe reiterated that he is confident the county treasurer/tax collector’s office will ultimately grant a penalty waiver, saying he believes the appeal meets the narrow criteria for granting such waivers – specifically, a health-related problem that spurred the situation.
O’Keefe told the Board that the GRF staff member responsible for sending out property-tax payments went on unexpected (and immediate) medical leave in mid-March. That staffer departed without telling colleagues that these payments had not yet been entered into the Accounting Department’s software system.
There has been handwringing over this penalty, prompting O’Keefe to reiterate at the Board meeting that the penalty was paid by MOD from surplus funds, and that none of the penalty will be paid by the affected Mutuals – First, Second and 8.
It can take up to 60 days for such waiver requests to be evaluated and ruled on, O’Keefe said.
“It was an honest mistake, a terribly unfortunate mistake,” said O’Keefe, who also told the Board that changes have been made to ensure this will never happen again.