As the November 20th special Board meeting nears, it would be helpful for all the interested parties to think about what they want and how they can express the desired outcomes with specific, understandable goals.
I’ve offered my thoughts and support for the project to the Board, with encouragement to think creatively in finding approaches to achieving the objective.
Frequent public comments from advocates call for the CCSD Board of Directors to support the skate park project. But I have not heard a clear explanation of what SUPPORT means. What is missing that keeps the community asking?
I am assuming the request is for a financial commitment, but what is that in real terms? How much money? How many resources? How much risk?
The Board adopted resolutions in support of the project and the Main Street location. The District invests time, money, and resources to shape the detail and identify the steps needed to proceed.
The property on Main Street has some financial value. Staff resources, including Project Management, administrative support, permit applications, and associated fees, carry expenses and additional workload. Can all that be calculated in a way that lets everyone understand what the total commitment will be?
There is a strong push for the Board to commit the proceeds from a yet-to-be submitted grant to the skate park project. The grant money, if secured, would provide a good chunk of change towards meeting project costs. It seems like a logical strategy, so why is this so difficult?
The Grant application has specific requirements. The applicant/Board does not have enough data to meet the required response, nor is there a clear path to getting that information before the filing deadline. “Whatever it takes” is a great rallying cry but certainly not a sensible or acceptable commitment to make.
So, faced with this reality, what are the options?
- Make a blanket commitment to providing the funding needed to complete the project.
- Apply for the grant to fund the proposed restroom project on the East Ranch. The project, a required step in building out the community park envisioned in the acquisition of the Fiscalini Ranch, has an estimated cost of $352,000.00. The Board would face the exact grant requirements, funding the approximately $175,000.00 difference to build the restrooms. From where would that money come?
- Forgo the grant.
Information the Board might communicate to the public includes :
- A clear and specific list of unmet requirements.
- Actions taken or planned to meet those requirements.
- Identification of who is responsible for those requirements.
- Steps outside the grant process taken or considered to keep the project moving forward.
Facts and Feelings
Keep the passion, keep the focus, but give the Board more than emotion. They are responsible for making decisions based on community wants, needs, and available resources. Bring facts that support the feelings. Other parts of the community don’t have the same passion for the project and need more convincing to get behind the cause. The Board represents those folks too.
Some examples that come to mind are;
- How many users will the park serve? “xxx youth live in the community, attend the schools, participate in other sports or activities.”
- Skate park users also include…groups.
- Having this facility in this location will drive xxx to local businesses/increase library usage/improve the overall section of town.
- Having an accessible youth-oriented facility reduces negative behaviors by… and encourages positive engagement by …
- Directing District resources to the skate park over other funding needs makes sense because…
Partners, Not Adversaries
This project will require a lot of funding and will take a lot of time to complete. The best way forward is a balance of aggressive advocacy and collaborative problem-solving. This formula will succeed with a complete understanding of all the moving parts and a team approach.
Some models have proven successful here in Cambria. Two that come immediately to mind are the Cambria Pickleball facility and the revitalized Cambria Center For The Arts. Both examples have been successful through collaborative private/public organizations working towards common goals. What can we learn from these successes?
Skate Cambria does a great job of advocacy without division. What an excellent example for the kids and the adults in the community. As challenging as this project is, having the values that Skate Cambria demonstrates should guide us all.
Meet the Smith family – parents, two kids, and a pet dog Lassie.
Timmy wants a car. Sally wants to study at Yale. Lassie wants that dangerous well Timmy keeps falling into filled and sealed.
The parents want to deliver for the three requestors but there is only so much money coming into the household, and it needs to cover all the expenses the family generates. Shelter, clothing, food, insurance, vet bills, car payments, braces, maintenance, more braces (those tumbles into the well can be rough on orthodontics); it all adds up.
The family negotiates, prioritizes, defers, and pursues alternatives.
Timmy gets a scooter instead of a car. Sally goes to Cuesta for a year while the tuition fund builds. Lassie hangs around the Infrastructure and Resources committee, who realize “oh yeah, we need to do something about that well!”
They also find ways to generate additional income.
With his new braces, Timmy makes a great model for his Orthodontist’s website and mailer campaign.
Sally is a perfect spokesperson for an online university, playing a struggling but ambitious student who finds her dream fulfilled in as little as two years.
Lassie reboots her classic television series, rebrands as “Lassie’s Marvelous Universe”, adds some cats, and sells it to Netflix. Donates a few bones to the skate park project.