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GRF officials discuss goals for coming year

Hiring new director of resident services is among priorities for new year

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, Dec. 30, 2022): After all the Christmas wrapping is crammed into the trash cans and after the New Year’s champagne bottles have landed in the recycling bin, GRF leaders will resume work on a number of key Rossmoor issues. Most of them have been topics of ample public discussion within Rossmoor’s friendly confines.

But there’s at least one new task – hiring a new director of resident services, or someone who will perform the myriad functions that, until early January, have been overseen by Jeff Matheson, who will become Rossmoor’s general manager shortly.

Matheson, who had been director of resident services since 2010, said there is still discussion about whether a new person will be hired specifically to do what he has been doing, or whether a new hire’s charge will reflect some reshuffling of duties. So that position, Matheson said, has not yet been advertised.

Dwight Walker, president of the GRF Board of Directors, said most of the other top GRF priorities closely mirror – but are certainly not limited to – the concerns noted in a survey conducted earlier this year by Ralph Andersen and Associates as part of the general manager hiring process. They are, in order, protecting Rossmoor against wildfires; drought resilience (including finding recycled water for the golf courses); public safety issues; and increasing use of technology, especially regarding the website portal and the online version of the Rossmoor News.

“We’re very much in line with what the community is asking for,” said Walker, noting that those concepts also are prominent among the GRF Board goals established this past spring.

As for specific projects underway as the start of 2023 is at hand, Matheson cited replacement of GRF’s main software system (Jenark) and other ongoing capital projects, including continuing renovation of the Gateway studios (phase two), upgrades and repairs to the Dollar Clubhouse patio, and design and construction of the new pickleball courts near Dollar.

The various projects, tasks and renovations will benefit in 2023 from something important, Matheson said – COVID-19’s much smaller (so far) black cloud this year.

“Our challenges are different now — we don’t have the pandemic hanging over our heads so much,” Matheson said. “Staffing-wise and supply-chain-wise, things are better, though inflation is still an issue. But projects should get done faster in the new year.”

Fortifying wildfire safety in Rossmoor will be aided by a $3.1 million Cal Fire grant that will allow for thinning out and removal of dry plant undergrowth on approximately 194 acres in or adjacent to Rossmoor. Officials from both Rossmoor and the city of Walnut Creek lobbied for that grant, which they see as necessary to reduce the chances of a fire along Rossmoor’s rim exploding into a crisis situation.

In parallel with the push for fire resiliency is the continuing effort to find a reliable source of recycled water, designed to keep Rossmoor’s golf courses green and also fire-resistant should that disastrous wildfire ever materialize.

“We’re pursuing every single option we can to find water, to save water, to bring in water however we can,” said Walker, noting that GRF officials plan to keep speaking into the new year with folks from both the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San) and the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) about possible ways to bring in that recycled water.

A study of whether GRF should build its own Satellite Wastewater Recycling Facility near the golf maintenance building at Creekside is on hold but is not dead.

Also on tap, Matheson said, is an improved on-demand dispatch system for transit originating in Rossmoor, which he hopes is up and working early in 2023.

There figures to be a lot of change in the Event Center/Dollar Clubhouse area in the next few months. The city of Walnut Creek is reviewing plans for the proposed pickleball courts just south of the Event Center, and the hope is that they’ll be approved in March, Matheson said. Ongoing care for that area’s old trees will also be an ongoing project into the new year.

The pickleball courts work will now include part of phase two of GRF’s current solar power project, with the new plan being for panels to be installed on the roof of the pickleball courts. This phase two also includes panels to be installed at Gateway.

The Jenark replacement project, to which the GRF Board has committed up to $2.5 million, is likely to stretch into 2024, Matheson said. It is expected that the successor to GRF’s 20-year-old software system will cover accounting for GRF and the Mutuals, and Mutual Operations Department (MOD) functions, primarily, much more efficiently, and make the work order process smoother for both GRF staff and residents.

There will be no shortage of work happening around Rossmoor in 2023, which is good, both men said, especially if there are no major surprises to contend with.

Said Walker, “I think we have a clear path for where we should be headed.”