Hope for a functional community center or more outdoor recreational opportunities in Maxwell were discussed last week after members of the public voiced suggestions for the use of state grant funding.
The Maxwell Park and Recreation District Board of Directors held the workshop on Nov. 23, to gain public input as to how they should spend the $177,000 they anticipate receiving from the state.
The district recently approved a resolution accepting the funds, which are distributed to cities, counties, and special park districts on a per capita basis from Proposition 68, the California Park and Water Bond Act, approved by voters in 2018.
“We have until December of 2021 to submit an application,” said MPR President Kyle Miller.
Projects must be for capital outlay, including the acquisition of land or improvements to existing property beyond its original condition.
Maxwell currently has no public park, although the MPR District has a Joint Powers Agreement with Maxwell Unified School District on outdoor facilities, including the Maxwell Town Pool, located at the high school.
The MRP District previously used state grant funding from Proposition 40 to build the Little League Park, also located at the high school.
Only six members of the public attended the workshop on Nov. 23, and their suggestions varied.
Murray Lyon said he thought a great investment for the money – in the era of COVID-19 – would be to build outdoor covered pavilions at the high school and elementary school that can be utilized as outdoor classrooms and for recreational opportunities.
“Just because we have (coronavirus) today, it doesn’t mean we won’t have a similar thing coming up in the future,” Lyon said.
If the grant allows, the MPR board and others in the community said they would especially like to use the money to bring the Maxwell Community Center up to code so that it can be used for public events, including fundraising opportunities.
The building, which the district purchased for congregate activities for youth, adults, and senior citizens, has no heating or air-conditioning, nor does it have an ADA compliant restroom.
Another suggestion for the use of grant funding would be to build a track for sporting events, around the horse arena or soccer field at the high school.
Community members have also not given up hope for the Town Pool, although the MPR board voted to close the swimming pool permanently at the end of the 2019 season, after the Proposition 218 tax measure failed in August.
While the per capita grant would likely pay for all the needs identified in the district’s Capital Improvement Plan for the swimming pool, including ADA restrooms, solar shade structure, and a grassy area with picnic tables, officials said Proposition 68 funding could not be spent on routine operation and maintenance, which includes chemicals and labor.
“It costs about $18,000 a year to operate the pool,” said MPR Director Sharol Kuska, the pool manager.
Kuska said MPR could likely handle a portion of the pool costs, but fundraising annually to keep the pool open would not be sustainable as those costs continue to go up.
While Maxwell Park and Recreation District is also eligible to apply for up to $8.8 million in Proposition 68 grant funding, the district does not have a viable revenue stream to make Maxwell competitive in the grant application process.
The district operates on fundraisers and the 1986 assessment of $15 per parcel, about $14,000 a year, just to keep the district solvent, with no money in the budget to pay a consultant for grant writing or park design services, officials said.
The board will meet at 6 PM on Dec. 7, at the Community Center, 64 W. Oak St., Maxwell, to possibly make a final decision about Prop 68 funding. Public participation in meetings is always encouraged, officials said.