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Management for Fitness Center receives three-year extension

By Ann Peterson

Managing editor


Active Wellness will continue to provide management at the Fitness Center for another three years.

At last week’s meeting, the GRF Board approved a three-year extension with Active Wellness, which has provided management service in Rossmoor since 2018 and before that consulted on operations, equipment purchases and facility layout during renovations of the Fitness Center.

Under the management contract, Active Wellness provides the general manager, fitness lead and front desk lead positions. All other employees are on the GRF payroll.

“What is really nice about working with Active is they have incorporated their staffing model into our existing programs and services, such that I don’t think anybody that goes to the Fitness Center would know there is a different management organization there,” Director of Resident Services Jeff Matheson said. “I have found that the time they have been with us has been a tremendous success; the attendance and programs have continued to grow.”

Director Carl Brown praised Active Wellness for improving the facility but expressed concerns.

“I do not like the practice of having GRF employees report to an outside company. I think it is bad management practice,” Brown said. “And I’m concerned that in order to use the facilities the residents have paid for, they have to disclose information, especially health information, to an outside company.”

Matheson clarified that information provided by residents remains within the Rossmoor facility and is not shared with Active Wellness’ company.

The Board approved the contract extension, with Brown abstaining.

Review of technology recommendations

The directors also had a few questions during a status report on the recommendations delivered three years ago by the AdHoc Technology Committee.

Topping the list was when Jenark, the GRF’s database system, might be replaced.

CEO Tim O’Keefe said staff decided to work toward a centralized database and hire the developer used by the Rossmoor News to customize the existing system. Changing to a new system would have carried a price tag of at least $2 million and a commitment to a subscription-based software.

Mutual Operations did roll out new efficiencies this year, including using iPads to issue work orders to reduce the need to go back and forth to the office between service calls, O’Keefe said. Now, staff would like to explore more efficient ways for residents to make payments by credit cards.

Treasurer Mary Hurt said she agreed that converting to a new system was not the right approach.

“It is a big deal, a long-term deal, and I guarantee it’s more expensive than any of us could calculate right now,” Hurt said.

President Dwight Walker also asked where Rossmoor was with OnDemand transportation.

Matheson explained that picking up residents in entries, instead of actual addresses with door-to-door service, complicated the use of apps to autonomously schedule the buses. Instead, staff had to modify to a more manual system so that dispatch could control routing the buses. They are now working toward a more blended model of manual and autonomous use, Matheson added.

In answer to a question Director Neva Flaherty asked, Matheson said a hybrid model also likely will be used post-pandemic for the buses. High-usage areas, such as Golden Rain Road and possibly downtown, might see the return of fixed routes, while Dial-A-Bus would be used primarily inside Rossmoor.

Improving Wi-Fi coverage in the clubhouses also will be reassessed once facilities return to more normal usage levels, O’Keefe said.

While Wi-Fi availability is offered in the Comcast contract, GRF needed to add new equipment to the Event Center, Hillside, Gateway and other facilities to handle slowdowns and high-volume usage. With the facilities underutilized for the past two years, staff doesn’t know yet if these changes will resolve the issue, O’Keefe said.

As for adding Wi-Fi coverage to the golf course, “that’s come up a number of times,” O’Keefe said, “and that would be very, very expensive and it would be very, very unsightly with cell towers. If we wanted it, we would have to pay for that.”

Micro-housing project

Walnut Creek Councilman Matt Francois told the Board that an application has not yet been submitted for a micro-home project at Grace Presbyterian Church. However, a community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Oak Room at Grace Presbyterian.

Francois said attendees must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test in the past three days. Masks also are required.

Changes to signs policy

The Board unanimously approved changes to its installation of signs policy. Board approval now will be needed to install any new personally named trails signs created after Jan. 1.

On the other hand, approval will not be needed for signs identifying plants or garden features or plaques installed on benches or other furniture purchased through the Landscaping Department with funds donated by residents or clubs.

Evacuation drills

Walker asked Francois if the Walnut Creek City Council was seeking federal funds from the infrastructure bill, especially for fire evacuations.

Francois noted that it’s still early in the process, but fire hazards and security, especially in Rossmoor, are key priorities.

“We’ve wanted to do an evacuation drill in Rossmoor for a while. The pandemic slowed us down from doing that,” he explained. “I’d really like to see us do that early next year, if at all possible, before the fire season starts.”

(See an article in next week’s News about planning for evacuation drills in Rossmoor in the spring.)

In other news:

  • The Board approved the transfer of $338,000 of the operating surplus to offset the MOD portion of the coupon.
  • The Board approved the scope and planning for the independent external audit of 2021 GRF financials, as recommended by the Audit Committee. The Board also approved engaging with Mayer Hoffmann McCann P.C. for $63,000 to complete the audit.
  • The Board approved Robin Moreau as the Women’s 18-Hole Club representative and Kurt Klose as the Happy Hackers Club representative on the Golf Advisory Committee.
  • The Finance Committee decided not to recommend changes to the current membership transfer fee of $10,000, instead deferring the decision until after the Facilities Master Plan is completed.
  • Matheson said autonomous shuttle service is still planned in Rossmoor in a partnership with the Contra Costa Transit Authority. Because it involves grant funding, however, when and how the program would work likely won’t be known until late 2022, Matheson said.
  • There is no end-of-the month Board meeting because of the holidays. The Board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to review capital projects.