Feb 25

State Awards Modesto $8.5 Million for Chavez Park

Posted on February 25, 2020 at 10:00 AM by Thomas Reeves

I am so pleased to announce that our Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods department has been successful in obtaining a grant worth $8.5 million for Cesar E. Chavez Park.

In all, 478 proposals were submitted to the State for a share of the Proposition 68 Statewide Park Program Grants, and Modesto’s Chavez Park was one of only 62 projects awarded the funds.  According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, “This competitive program will create new parks and new recreation opportunities in under-served communities across California.”

“We are excited about the award of this funding for the renovation of Chavez Park,” said Laurie Smith, Modesto’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods.  “Our parks planning staff partnered with the community to develop a plan that will bring new and family-friendly activities to the park!”

The funds received as part of this grant program for Cesar E. Chavez Park will go toward constructing a new aquatic center with pool and splash pad with lighting, skate plaza with lighting, outdoor basketball court with lighting, picnic pavilion with lighting, soccer field, approximately 4,250 linear feet of walking paths with three outdoor fitness stations, event stage area, restroom, park perimeter fencing, bioswales, groundwater recharge basins, and lighting and security cameras throughout the park. 

We will also renovate the existing Maddux Youth Center by adding two new multipurpose rooms for exercise classes, and will renovate the existing landscaping and irrigation throughout the park, to include the relocation of the Cesar E. Chavez monument.

Congratulations to the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods department, but also to the community!  We’re excited to start construction by the summer of 2021 and hand over the new park by the spring of 2022.  
Jan 22

Closure of the Muni Golf Course

Posted on January 22, 2020 at 10:37 AM by Thomas Reeves

Discussion has been stirring in regards to the closure of one of Modesto’s three golf courses. The city currently has two eighteen-hole golf courses (Creekside and Dryden Park) and one nine-hole golf course (Modesto Municipal, or "Muni"). Since 2009, our golf rounds and revenues have been drastically decreasing. To put it in perspective, our courses have the capacity for about 300,000 rounds of golf, total, per year, yet over the last three years we’ve been averaging about 97,500. This is not unique to Modesto. In our region alone, several private and public golf courses ranging from areas like Stockton, Stevinson, Diablo Grande and Phoenix Lake, have already closed. 

While there are many factors that contribute to this nationwide down fall, our supply is simply much larger than our demand, and the City has been losing between $700,000 and $1 Million on its golf courses since 2016/2017. In addition to the loss of revenue from the decrease in rounds played, there are also fewer golfers to purchase merchandise, food, and rent a cart. These transactions make up a large portion of the park’s revenues.

Golf, in and of itself, is predominantly a leisure sport. It is also a relatively expensive sport, and for that reason, golfers who play expect the courses and operations to be held to a higher standard. The City shares this standard as well. However, with the declining revenue, the City has not been able to keep up with the maintenance at the courses. We currently estimate about $1.4 million worth of capital improvements that need to be made to these parks such as restoring parking lots, club houses, bunkers, sprinklers and other ongoing issues in order to bring the courses to a reasonable standard. 

The City retained a consultant to perform a golf assessment for our city. It was recommended that the nine-hole Modesto Municipal Golf Course be closed down. Compared to the other courses, Muni was chosen due to it being the best piece of land for re-purposing to a different use. In contrast, The Dryden Park Golf course is located in a flood plain and is bound to a family deed restriction, which constitutes the land not suitable for any other use other than open space. 

A critical aspect of this closure is the relocation of The First Tee of Central Valley. First Tee is an important youth program that teaches life skills through golf. The program’s headquarters has been located at the Municipal Golf Course since its inception. With the closure of Muni, The First Tee of Central Valley will be moved to Dryden Park Golf Course. 

Despite the evidence in favor of closing Muni, we understand and sympathize with the concerns of the golf community. Our objective is to make the best use of our resources and General Fund expenditures. By closing one of our golf courses, our deficit is reduced and we are now able to use that land to resolve other major concerns such as affordable housing. It will also allow us to make much needed improvements at the two remaining course. 

At this point, the city can no longer afford to operate three golf courses, and this this determination has not taken lightly. Your City leadership must be conscientious of our tight budget and prioritize the needs of all our residents.

The closure of Muni will not happen overnight, and although an official timeline has not been finalized, golfers still have time to get in their games. Rest assured that while we review the options for development at the site of Muni, we will continue to provide an open and transparent process of involving our community in the decision-making process.
Jan 08

Modesto Launches Charter Review Committee

Posted on January 8, 2020 at 3:21 PM by Thomas Reeves

The following is a guest post by Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold

On behalf of the Modesto City Council and the citizens, residents, voters, and taxpayers of the City of Modesto, I am pleased to announce the formation of the City’s Charter Review Committee. 

A Brief History
Over 50 years ago, the citizens of Modesto adopted a new city charter that provided for the Council-Manager form of government. The final adoption and approval of that charter was preceded by the election of a Board of Freeholders which, in 1949, drafted a proposed charter that was subsequently submitted to the voters. 

Because of some technical difficulties, it was invalidated by the courts prior to its approval. Thereafter, the City Council appointed a citizens committee to complete the job of drafting a city charter, which was eventually approved by the voters and later ratified by the California State Legislature.

In 1961, after the City had approximately 10 years of experience in operating under the new charter, the City Council felt that it was time to review the charter, evaluate its effectiveness, and make recommendations for amendments where appropriate. The Council appointed a Citizens Review Committee to make such an evaluation. That committee made a complete and thorough review of the charter, line by line, and proposed a number of revisions. The State Legislature subsequently ratified these proposals (Charter amendments are no longer required to be ratified by the State Legislature). 

Similar review occurred in 1971, 1980, 1989, and 1999. 

Now, many decades after its initial adoption, the City Council has appointed this new committee to take a fresh look at the City Charter and determine whether or not additional revisions should be made.

What’s Next
A city charter, like the state and federal constitutions, is a statement of basic principles, outlining powers, relationships and responsibilities. It should be reasonably short, a concise and readable instrument establishing an outline of the organizational framework of our city government. It should not be encumbered with the kind of policy detail that is more properly set forth in the City Code.

The function of this committee is to review Modesto’s current Charter, and ensure it provides the best organization, powers, and functions and essential procedures for the best possible City government.

Each member of the City Council believes this committee is vital to the future of Modesto.  We expect this committee to do more than a caretaker's job in reviewing our local constitution, and we fully anticipate committee members will be thorough in their ideas to improve our local government and governance.

One of the major themes I see for this work is the need for more accountability in City Hall. Committee members will spend time considering ways we can improve accountability to our citizens, residents, voters, and taxpayers.  Despite the difficulty of the task, this City Council continues to believe that we must better meet the expectations of our citizens.

This committee will have a wide charge to review the entire City Charter and make recommendations as members see appropriate for our City. 

The committee will also have access to expertise and specialties inside and outside the City of Modesto, and we will provide you all the necessary resources to do a thorough review of the Charter.

Supporting this committee will be our Charter Officers, who are integral to running our great City.  City Clerk Stephanie Lopez will coordinate the necessary agenda, minutes, and documentation work; City Attorney Adam Lindgren will provide legal resources to the effort; and City Manager Joe Lopez will provide support staff. 

Thanks for your consideration,

If you are interested in serving on this valuable committee, please submit an application.  The deadline to apply is noon on January 22, 2020.