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Reata Park Could Eventually Cost $300K a Year to Maintain

San Juan Capistrano City Council to discuss the numbers and operations plan Tuesday.

Reata Park and Event Center in San Juan Capistrano. Graphic courtesy the city of San Juan Capistrano.
Reata Park and Event Center in San Juan Capistrano. Graphic courtesy the city of San Juan Capistrano.

The San Juan Capistrano City Council will discuss Tuesday how much it will cost to run and maintain a controversial park on the eastern edge of town now under construction.

The Reata Park and Event Center along Ortega Highway at Reata Road will feature equestrian corrals, a welcome center and an event center which could serve as a wedding venue. A local nonprofit, the San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation, is paying for most of the construction-related costs.

However, once it is open – no sooner than April 2014, according to a city staff report – the city is responsible for running it, securing it and maintaining it.

Most of the maintenance costs, which could run as high as $300,000 annually, will be paid for by the fees the city collects to lease out the nearby Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, currently run by Blenheim Facility Management on a $225,000 annual lease, according to a city staff report.

The rest should be covered by fees to use the park’s facilities, according to staff. Parties wishing to hold weddings, parties, run/walks, outdoor concerts and other events for as many as 250 people will pay event fees that vary depending on the use and size, according to staff.

The park is expected to cost $235,000-245,000 a year to maintain initially, and between $275,000-300,000 annually as use picks up, according to staff.

It will open daily at 7:30 a.m. and close by nightfall to protect the environmentally sensitive areas along San Juan Creek, city staff writes.

The City Council meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto in San Juan Capistrano.  

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Clint Worthington December 02, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Let me make sure I understand this: The City leases out a park that the public rarely can use for $225.000 and the expenses are $300,000. We are losing $75,000 a year on this business transaction. Why not just return the park to the public so all can enjoy ? It was Sam Allevatos vote to purchase a park that that the City is going to lose money on. You can't trust Sam Allevato.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 02, 2013 at 08:25 PM
From the staff report: -------------------------------"It is the intent that the Eastern Open Space area (both Reata Park and Event Center and the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano (Riding Park)) be self-sustaining. The annual operations and maintenance cost is to be funded from the City's operation of the Riding Park which is currently operated by Blenheim Facility Management, LLC. Under the proposed Management Agreement, the City reasonably expects to retain $225,000 from the operation of the Riding Park and as the gross revenues from the operation of the Riding Park increase those revenues will increase as well. Additionally, the City expects revenues from the use of the improved Reata Park and Event Center to offset costs."
Jonathan Volzke December 02, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Oops. Clint spoke before he knew all the facts.
Sunshine December 02, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Is it a park that we can all use or do we have to rent it out to enjoy it? Outdoor parties and concerts? More traffic and loud noise and drunk drivers?
Donna Fleming December 02, 2013 at 08:54 PM
The city thinks that people are going to pay to use the park? And, that the daily fee's will offset the cost of operating and maintaining the park? Is this similar to the 15.00 fee charged at Doheny beach park? So, it would mean, be prepared to pay 15.00 and stay awhile. A 1 hour hike or run would not be worth the fee? Just asking. It does not seem like a plausible offset.
Donna Fleming December 02, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Sunshine ..apparently it is open to those who pay a fee to drive in. Like Doheny Beach park. Personally, I use the Doheny beach park only with out of town guests or family gatherings. 15.00 a car is too much if I am only going for an hour hike. But, we do not know exactly what the costs are yet. I used Doheny as an example of what is charged for day use. It too far to be convenient for me anyway.
Clint Worthington December 02, 2013 at 09:13 PM
So again, the City is in the red on this.
Sunshine December 02, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Why the heck does the city of SJC have to run an event center? Let's sell it to a private company. We don't need more bureaucracy to run a park. Who has been chosen or hired to take on this job which includes booking it, running it, securing it and maintaining it? Now will the recycled water needed to maintain this be on my monthly water bill since we are the only city in OC I can find that doesn't have the recycled water in the budget, but rather included in residents' monthly bills. It doesn't matter if my tax dollars or water bill pays for it, I will be paying for a park I can't use unless I rent it out. Who is connected with the local non-profit SJC Open Space Foundation and why are they pouring money into Reata Park? This sounds like a boondoggle.
Angus Kevin Mckay December 02, 2013 at 09:37 PM
the same statement shows the cost are expected to rise to as high as 375000.00 anually, we are only retaining 225000.00. it does seem like we might be in the red on this Jonathan, i am not familiar enough with these sort of things, but without a plan for where the money is coming from or the estimated amount of money expected to be generated, how can anyone say they really know?
Clint Worthington December 02, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Angus, you are exactly right on the income and expenses and also on the City trying to rationalize this park by penciling in numbers for events that there is no track record for income. The park does not pencil out. If this much money is to be lost, then cancel this stupid lease and let the residents use their own park. Or, sell it.
Sunshine December 02, 2013 at 10:09 PM
No one would run a business like this.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 02, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Events are in demand. The city already leases venues for weddings (community center, the library). At the Plaza Banderas Hotel story, many cited a need for an event venue. I have documented SJC being a destination for weddings. So whether the city offers it or the private sector, it seems that the event "space" is a good one to be in locally.
Angus Kevin Mckay December 02, 2013 at 10:53 PM
A lot of people do like san Juan for weddings and pictures and things like that. I always see people by the tracks and train station, but I dont know if we can assume the park will generate the same kind of traffic as the other historic places in town, but hey anything is possible. I don't think most public spaces like this generate enough cash to sustain their cost on a general basis so the only thing i can assume is that when cities make the sacrifice for a park it is exactly that, a sacrifice at a cost to the city. But in this situation when the park is marketed as a venue for more than just the city I can see where the expectation to sustain itself comes in. The only thing I wonder is if they consider providing the park free of charge to san Juan residents for drive in purposes and the area is self sustaining if sentiments would change. Regarding the park, not it's location or any other issues people have.
Donna Fleming December 02, 2013 at 11:30 PM
This park is not going to be the perfect place for weddings and events. Yes, everyone likes the idea of an event in San Juan Capistrano. With the Mission and Los Rios area charm every photo is memorable. This is why the Hotel off Ortega and would have been perfect to fill this need. The park in Mission Viejo owned by the city or leased is not going to generate income like the hotel would have done. Now we are stuck with a huge park to maintain and try to market.
Angus Kevin Mckay December 03, 2013 at 12:00 AM
I see you made it out ok Donna:)
Clint Worthington December 03, 2013 at 12:30 AM
If the event center is such a great idea, then why has the public sector not done it? Because it does not pencil out. We all would have liked the Plaza Banderas Hotel to go in, but when it came down to it, it just did not pencil out. Why are we gambling with taxpayer money ? Let the public sector take the rick and earn the rewards. Let the City provide the roads, keep the street lights on, and charge a reasonable rate for water.
Angus Kevin Mckay December 03, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Yes Clint I would agree on that not to mention it wouldn't hurt to spiff some places up around town
Sunshine December 03, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Yes, Penny it would be a great place for a wedding venue. But the city shouldn't be in the venue business. That's not their job. Plus Governments on all levels aren't known for their business sense or efficiency. What'll happen is some bureaucrat will run it, just like Obamacare, and the venue will lose money. If it's such a really good location, we should be able to sell it and let a business take the risks. What the heck is wrong with this city council? Recall Sam. We can't afford him.
shelly December 03, 2013 at 01:51 AM
There are many public parks and city owned properties all over the USA that rent out for big events and weddings they do make money.
Sunshine December 03, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Good for them, Shelly. It doesn't mean we should. Nothing wrong with a business owning the property and paying taxes to the city for a business.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 03, 2013 at 11:36 AM
The private sector HAS done it. That's why you have Serra Plaza, Franciscan Gardens, El Adobe, the Villa all doing weddings. Hamilton Oaks is planning weddings. That's why the new winery (Rancho Capistrano Winery) wants to do weddings. Not everyone can do big, expensive weddings, so some opt for public rental spaces, such as parks and community centers. Didn't one of our councilmen get married in a park with a Western-themed wedding? It could fail. But the market around here is good.
Donna Fleming December 03, 2013 at 01:39 PM
All....even 12 weddings a year would not pay for the maintenance on the park. How many people are going to line up to get married in an obscure park outside of San Juan. There is just not enough of a market for large weddings/events in a park to support the cost to maintain the park. The market in San Juan is good, but those who are looking for a western theme wedding (whoo lot's of them), will not even know the park exists.
Matthew Keune December 03, 2013 at 01:45 PM
An obscure park next to a busy road. That's exactly where I would want to get married! (Sarcasm)
renee ritchie December 03, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Concern as an equestrian and one who was asked for input from the "foundation" regarding equestrian area; from what I can see the round pen is not a standard size way small including the arena A huge reason I was adamant about incorporating equestrian staging area was not only for our residents and allowing other folks to trailer in and enjoy our trails and visit our businesses but also to bring in some top western clinicians which would allow our city some good income. However the round pen especially is way to small to accommodate and b safe for any clinicians to use or for that matter anyone to exercise horse prior to hitting the trails. I am hopeful that this can be changed; if not don't blame equestrians for not bringing any Money to the table. As far as weddings and such I certainly wouldn't want a celebration right next to Ortega highway but that is just me. I said from the beginning of all this just leave it "natural" clean it up a bit put some picnic benches in bbqs and let folks just meander around. I am prayerful that it turns out to be a home run for our city.. Time will tell. Former open space trails and equestrian commissioner. Enjoying life!
Donna Fleming December 03, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Thank you Renee. Now we have an expert opinion on the value of the park to and for, equestrian use. It was not designed properly or safely for equestrian use. So, that leaves events and weddings and the hikers to cover the 300k a year to maintain the park. And, this grand scheme was reviewed, studied, and recommended by Robert Ferguson and the Open Space Commission. Then negotiated by Allevato behind closed doors. One wonders why this land was purchased? Who benefits. It is an expense not income.
Sunshine December 03, 2013 at 02:33 PM
I just don't think the city needs to be in the wedding venue business with a park we own. That park is now set up not to be used for the enjoyment of the residents, but to be a "money making" (or money losing) business for the city. We should let a private business buy and run the park. If they do well, we reap the taxes but not suffer any losses. Our city council can't even run the city right, let alone a wedding venue business.
renee ritchie December 03, 2013 at 02:59 PM
I did not say the entire equestrian venue was not designed safely the round pen needs to reconfigured so the horse is not on top of you when in together. If the design layout has not been changed that we negotiated for and the foundation submitted for approval thIs minor improvement will make it safe and useable
Donna Fleming December 03, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Renee....What are the dimensions necessary to make the pen safe? And, what would you estimate the size of the pen is now? Shouldn't this have been disigned by equestrian experts? Who altered the size of the pen to pass it off as okay for equestrian use? Do you know? We are gathering information as to how this park will accommodate horse people, event people, hikers, etc. Thank you for your input.
Sunshine December 04, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Renee, it sounds like not much thought and planning was put into the equestrian arena. I wonder how many more tax dollars would be needed to pay to correct their error. I'm certainly not impressed with the City Council leadership. Sam Allevato and his majority are a sham. I thought they were the ones with the cowboy hats on.
Sunshine December 05, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Resign, Sam, before you do any more damage to SJC!............... http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/moodys-downgrades-san-juan-capistranos-credit-score

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