NEWS HEADLINES

City, youth association ink exclusive park lease

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013

{{{*}}}For the foreseeable future, Leone Park in Paradise will be leased solely by the city’s youth and recreation association.

At its meeting Monday, the city council approved the exclusive contract – an arrangement similar to the one approved by the city last summer. Anyone who wants to use the city park can still do so by going through the Paradise Youth and Recreation Association (PYRA).

“It’s pretty much what they were doing anyway,” City Secretary Teresa Moody said. “Now (PYRA) will put a sign down there with a phone number so people know to call them to use the park. (PYRA) didn’t think it made sense that they be required to pay the bills and clean up after other people if (the park) wasn’t exclusively theirs in the lease.”

PYRA representatives assured city officials that the city-owned park would remain unlocked and open for public use when it is not in use by the youth association. The “exclusive lease language” they pushed for was a “scheduling matter” designed to ensure the facilities would be available during ball seasons and for the organization’s fundraisers.

In addition, the contract grants PYRA board members a sense of ownership over a venue they are expected to invest their time and resources in. The city will insure the property, but PYRA will maintain a general liability insurance policy, pay the electric bill and cover maintenance and upkeep.

In July, the council approved leasing the park to PYRA for $1 a year for 20 years, to be reviewed after PYRA board elections, which occur every two years.

With the lease agreement, PYRA will be responsible for improvements and repairs to the on-site pavilion and the fields. PYRA Board President Jamie Cook has arranged field maintenance with the county inmate work program.

“If we have an exclusive lease, I don’t have any problem paying the electricity, paying the water, mowing the grass and keeping the trash picked up, some of the general maintenance and provide the general liability insurance,” Cook had said at a meeting in July. “But without an exclusive lease, I don’t feel PYRA ought to have to burden the cost of somebody else using the field … ”

CITY HALL PAYOFF

Though by a different means, the council maintained its decision to pay off the mortgage on City Hall.

A typing error forced the council to revisit its decision last month to use $157,000 of the general fund to clear the note.

“I missed hitting that decimal key on one of the deposits so (the bank account) was showing more money than we actually had,” Moody said. “It was an honest mistake. I didn’t catch it, the council didn’t catch it, no one caught it until I received a bank statement and saw that the numbers didn’t match.”

Instead, the city will use its certificate of deposit money – an investment that is yielding very little return, city officials said – and continue with the plan to pay off the loan.

In a preliminary report earlier last month, the city’s auditor, Carl Deaton, pointed out that the city was earning less than 1 percent in interest on the certificates but was paying about 4 percent in interest on the note.

“It looks nice to have the (certificate) money in the bank, but, essentially, we were losing money.” Moody said.

The city purchased the building, previously a restaurant, in 2010 for $250,000.

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