Cambria CSD allocates state subsidy for new public toilets


Some may see the recent Cambria Community Services District grant conundrum as a showdown between new public restrooms and Cambria skatepark, but that’s not how three of the district directors interpreted their November 30 decision. on which the state subsidy would be obtained.

In a split vote, the Cambria CSD Board of Directors asked staff to seek the $ 177,952 California Parks and Recreation grant to help build public toilets that have already been designed for the East Ranch part of the Cambria Fiscalini Ranch reserve.

The construction of the toilets is expected to cost a total of $ 371,000.

The board’s decision means the skatepark will instead have to wait for a future allocation, although it may not be long before the money is on its way.

Trustees are expected to confirm the washroom resolution at their December 9 meeting, along with a budget adjustment to burden the entire cost of the project from general funds. The district would pay for the works and then be reimbursed by the grant in stages over the course of the project.

The recommended project completion date is December 31, 2023, two years after the registration deadline.

Cambria skatepark project still awaiting funding

On or shortly after December 9, the board may also cement their commitment to a future allocation for what the district’s game for the skatepark would have been had they chosen to apply for the grant on behalf of the. skating facility.

Vice-Chairman of the Board Donn Howell and Director Karen Dean said on Nov. 30 that such an allocation – which would have equaled the district’s share of the estimated $ 661,000 cost of the skatepark had the grant request been made. for this facility – should reassure park advocates that the CSD board of directors is supporting the project, both now and when this design is sufficiently advanced to be eligible for permit approval and a grant.

Some online posts say that not everyone sees it that way.

Comments on Nextdoor and Facebook claimed that the district had “hijacked” the grant from the skatepark project, that local residents would be more likely to leave the dog park and return home than to use a public washroom and that a remote bathroom could be a magnet for activities and other issues.

Managing Director John Weigold reiterated in a telephone interview on December 1 that the state brought the initial grant opportunity to the CSD in June as a repayment grant.

Weigold said when he presented the funding opportunity at the July Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission meeting, that the fully designed East Village washroom almost ready to shovel was the only project. officially on the committee’s radar.

Skate Cambria manager Julie Amodei proposed the skatepark as another possibility, and the puzzle of the CSD decision began.

Skatepark advocates have been raising funds since mid-2020 to replace the old park, built decades ago by parents, children and enthusiasts on the property next to the Cambria Public Library. This is where Skate Cambria wants the new park to be.

The district got a county grant of $ 20,000 and hired Spohn Ranch to design the new skate facility. Aaron Spohn has previously presented a design project to the Parks and Recreation Commission and the CSD Board of Directors.

The Skate Cambria website on December 2 showed donations of $ 167,999 and 3,000 signatures to the skatepark.

Toilets required as part of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve grant

Several directors and members of the public have pointed out that a new 10-by-20-foot two-stall toilet is unlikely to be needed now or in the immediate future.

However, Monte Soto of Civil Design Studio in Cambria, designer of the toilet / East Ranch project, said a toilet will definitely be needed whenever the district has the funds to comply with the terms of a $ 500,000 grant. granted by the county at 20 years. towards the purchase of what was then East West Ranch (now Fiscalini Ranch Preserve).

According to this subsidy agreement, the CSD will eventually have to develop recreational facilities on the eastern part of the property.

As Warden Harry Farmer recalled, the county grant was inexorably tied to the district’s commitment to providing public park and recreation facilities on this part of the ranch. While no firm deadline has been set for this requirement, the lack of progress towards meeting this commitment has been a county-level issue.

Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Commission chairman Steve Kniffen, a strong skatepark supporter, commented via Zoom that the commission made the toilet a priority then “because we had nothing else.” , and all further progress on the ranch was blocked by regulation.

“If we wanted to set up picnic tables” or other amenities, he said, “we couldn’t until we had a bathroom there. This was the next step in moving forward with the East Ranch project.

Weigold has called the washroom “the kingpin” for anything the district wants to put on East Ranch.

While the master plan and the completion of the first phase of the East Ranch project a few years ago (grading, parking lot and dog park) helped allay some of the county’s concerns, having more progress on the horizon is a good stopover.

On December 2, Kniffen called the CSD’s board selection of the toilet project for the grant a “tough decision, but I think they made the right decision.” Their decision was Solomon-esque.

The community questions the urgency of making a grant decision

At the Zoom meeting on November 30, some community members questioned the apparent urgency of finalizing the grant decision, a topic for which the board called two special meetings in November.

Several staff and board members responded that the deadline to apply for the grant was December 31.

A calendar compressed by vacancies for necessary documents, meetings and resolution meant that time was of the essence if the district were to apply and / or qualify for the grant opportunity, regardless of the project on the application.

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Kathe Tanner has written about the people and places of SLO County’s North Coast since 1981, first as a columnist and then also as a journalist. Her career has included stints as a bakery owner, public relations manager, radio host, trail guide, and jewelry designer. She has lived in Cambria for over four decades, and if it happens in town, Kathe knows it.


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