By Rowena Gonden
Should Rossmoor build a water reclamation plant to ensure unrestricted access to water during a drought? What about creating a second way for residents to leave the premises during an emergency evacuation? Does Rossmoor need dedicated walking paths?
The sweeping array of proposed facilities improvements triggered a second town hall meeting last week, where dozens of residents had a chance to voice their opinions for the first time since the GRF Board drew up a prioritized list of work for the Facilities Master Plan.
About 70 people turned out for the presentation at the Event Center, where consultants described the latest plans for replacing and remodeling buildings as well as upgrading outdoor recreation spots and open space around the community.
A slideshow offered a pictorial overview of the tentative capital improvements — known as the Facilities Master Plan — which have continued to evolve since the Berkeley firm ELS Architecture and Urban Design began collaborating with Rossmoor leadership to identify the changes about six months ago.
“At this point everything is conceptual,” said Director of Resident Services Jeff Matheson. “What we’re doing today is not designing facilities,”
The projects now have been grouped into three categories according to how quickly they should be done over a 10-year period: immediate (within the next two years), near-term (3 to 6 years) and long-term (7 to 10 years).
The list also contains a handful of deferred maintenance tasks that are not tied to a timeline or considered major undertakings but are needed to maintain the current infrastructure.
Examples include restoring an RV dump station that was removed years ago.
And some projects are on a wish list, such as creating another paved exit instead of relying on the front gate only if disaster looms; building an outdoor amphitheater and children’s playground and erecting shade structures on the lawn bowling greens. These might be done if there is still money available after the other work is completed.
Of the projects currently identified as top priority, expanding the number of pickleball courts generated multiple comments during a question-and-answer session that followed the talk.
“I know pickleball is a very sensitive subject, said resident Arleen Westcott, but, “the peacefulness, the quiet shouldn’t be taken for granted.” She noted that many others also have voiced concerns about loud laughing and talking that accompanies the social sport, as well as the noise from paddles hitting balls.
Building a plant to treat household wastewater so Rossmoor can irrigate the golf courses also appears on the list as a pressing need, as is creating more walking paths throughout Rossmoor.
On the other hand, relegating a second emergency exit to the wish list did not sit well with resident Eric Cox, who drew applause from the audience when he noted that coming up with an easier way to get out of Rossmoor in a hurry should not be optional.
Although Rossmoor has several fire trails, they are off-limits to all but emergency vehicles and most are unpaved.
Loran Shlevin echoed Cox’s sentiments.
“Fire, fire, fire is perhaps the highest priority,” she said.
Conversely, another listener hoped that the suggestion of building an amphitheater on the Dollar Clubhouse grounds would fall off the wish list into oblivion. The amenity would not be used most of the time, she said, and paving over an expanse of earth would damage the environment.
Among the projects tagged as near-term is installing a shade structure in Peacock Plaza as well as an elevator at Dollar Clubhouse. That building is targeted for a complete renovation that would include adding wheelchair ramps, reducing the number of steps and remodeling bathrooms.
Replacing the Mutual Operations Department’s dilapidated buildings and reconfiguring the complex also is envisioned within the next three to six years. The changes would result in a centralized office building and separate warehouses for maintenance and vehicles.
Those shepherding the Facilities Master Plan through the approval process are focusing on safety and accessibility factors as they pare and prioritize the list of suggestions. Weighing the number of residents who would benefit from each project against the additional maintenance expenses that certain changes might incur also is a consideration.
ELS will meet with the Planning Committee on Jan. 13, after which the master plan will go to the Finance Committee so it can assess the budget needs for the proposed work.
The document then will go back to the Planning Committee to be refined based on how much money is available.
The GRF board is expected to adopt the final plan sometime in the spring.
Matheson noted that refining the list is a long and difficult process because Rossmoor is trying to accommodate residents’ broad diversity of desires, some of which are diametrically opposed.
The presenters emphasized that the Facilities Master Plan is a document that will continue to change, even after it is adopted as new wants and needs arise.