Fraser Rec District approves Grand Park contract
July 23, 2008
At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the board of directors of the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD) approved a contract with the Grand Park subdivision to build a recreation center on land Grand Park plans to donate to the district.
The vote was not unanimous. Three of the directors ” Dan O’Connell, Peter Strohecker and John Kacik ” voted for approval. Voting against the contract was director Greg Gallavan. Beth Sands abstained from the vote.
The board gave its approval despite voicing “reservations” about some clauses in the contract.
One of those reservations is over the “naming clause,” which states it will be called the “Grand Park Recreation Center or some name mutually agreed upon by the parties.”
A second reservation is the “reversion clause,” which states the donated property could be returned to Grand Park if the recreation center is closed for a period of six months or more.
A third reservation mentioned by the board of directors was the contract’s clause allowing hotel access to the recreation center. This access was explained as a simple walkway connecting the two buildings. Also, hotel guests would be required to pay a fee for use of the center.
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In casting his vote for approval of the contract with Grand Park, Dan O’Connell, the board’s president, said, “It was the right thing to do.
“I don’t care what it’s called,” he added. “We need to move forward with it.”
Peter Strohecker agreed.
“This was voted by the electorate,” he said. “They approved it. It’s time to move on with our recreation center.”
“This contract had some good things and some things that I don’t like so much,” said director John Kacik. “But approving it allows us to move forward. I don’t like some things in the contract, but it doesn’t violate the fiduciary obligation of the district.”
Groundbreaking in August
Before the vote, FVMRD director Scott Ledin told the board that plans are “still looking at the week of August 4 for the groundbreaking” for the recreation center following the expected approval of its building permit.
Controversy over construction of the recreation center has bubbled since voter approval of the project as part of a $19.5 million bond in last November’s election. Most of the objections to the project center on the land contract with the Grand Park subdivision development, which plans to donate the four-acre parcel where the recreation center will be built.
In addition to approving the contract with Grand Park, the board also approved a contract with Big Valley Construction to build the recreation center for a “guaranteed maximum price” of $11,885,904.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, it was announced that the ground breaking on the construction of the clubhouse at the district-owned Pole Creek Golf Course is expected the week of August 18.
Director rejects call for resignation
Before the vote on the recreation center contract, one of the board member had to publicly defend herself against allegations of conflict of interest involving that project as a citizens group presented a petition demanding her resignation.
Before a packed meeting room at the Winter Park Town Hall, Beth Sands rejected the call for her resignation. The accusation of conflict of interest was made against her because she is an employee of Cornerstone Holdings LLC, the developer of Grand Park.
“My conscience is clear,” Sands said. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Sands, who began working for Cornerstone Holdings in its real estate department last January, said she had abstained from all votes in open and executive sessions on matters dealing with the Grand Park contract and had done nothing to “influence the vote.”
The demand for Sands’ resignation was made at Tuesday’s meeting by Winter Park attorney Mark Rudis, who maintained she had a clear conflict of interest. He said that the “group of concerned citizens” that he was representing had petitions with 160 signatures calling for Sands’ resignation.
To find out whether or not Sands had participated in discussions or votes pertaining to the contract, Rudis said he was requesting the board to turn over any minutes of executive sessions that it had held about Grand Park. If the board did not comply, he said the group may sue the board to “compel disclosure.”
Those attending Tuesday’s meeting were then surprised by a proposal of an alternative land donation for the recreation center.
Bob Wolf, president of the Grand County Water and Sanitation District No. 1, said he wanted to give FVMRD “another option” by offering four acres of its land located just north of the Sitzmark Lodge on the east side of U.S. Highway 40.
In addition, Wolf said the Rendezvous subdivision would kick in another three acres of land adjacent to that property, which includes a pond for a total of seven acres of land for the recreation center.
“We’re willing to give the land,” Wolf said. “Maybe it’s time to call a time out and take a look.”
Wolf said he recognized that he was making this offer in the “12th hour” of the project, but he said the district should consider the sanitation district’s offer because it has a number of advantages, not the least is that it is “not involved with a developer.”
” Patrick Brower contributed to this article.