Who’s got the pain when they sod the ball fields

The latest meeting of the city Parks and Recreation Commission heated up over presentation of a detailed report that criticized the city’s handling of the Bluffs Parks renovation. Commissioners, along with one city councilmember, reprimanded the presenters of the ball fields’ renovation monitor report.

The report was authored by Parks and Recreation commissioner Doug O’Brien; Malibu AYSO’s Kevin Driscoll; Malibu landscape contractors Paul Major and Paul Skophammer; and Little League Fields Director Tim Bigelow.

The city had awarded a contract in September for renovations to the ball fields. Money was donated to lay sod on the fields instead of seeding. The city also allocated funds for incentives to complete the project on time.

But by late March, seams in the sod were still open, making play impossible and continuing to delay opening of the Little League season, originally scheduled for Feb. 22. As of mid-May, the fields’ irrigation system was continuing to malfunction.

“I think it’s premature and as muddy as the water is,” said City Councilman Harry Barovsky of the monitor report addressed to City Treasurer Peter Lippman and City Manager Harry Peacock. Barovsky said while the report claims he and Councilman Tom Hasse were among those seeking review of the costs of renovations, he never gave anyone permission to use his name. “I never saw nor approved the report. I suggested that any information gathered be submitted to Mr. Lippman for help in his audit.”

The report tracks financial and contracting activities that allegedly led to the soggy conditions and delayed structural renovations and completion of the playing fields. Barovsky said no information should be released until the city treasurer completes an audit of the renovations.

Major is among the citizens who compiled the report, which cites “extensive overcharges relating to damage of infrastructure.” The reports claims that its primary motive is a concern for public safety and liability. “The groups involved have done a great job,” said Major. “It’s a very viable report.”

In other business, PARCS (People Achieving Recreation and Community Services) presented a survey of the community regarding Malibu’s recreational activities. Among the general findings of the extensive needs assessment report were sentiments by recreational providers that needs outnumber resources, according to PARCS Chair Kristin Reynolds. “Providers agree that current outdoor facilities are inadequate, and there’s a huge increase in the necessity for space for childcare.” The information is intended to help facilitate a comprehensive overview for future parks and recreational plans and activities, according to Reynolds.

Commissioner Sam Hall Kaplan reported on the new land conservancy’s efforts to find a way to preserve and purchase the 20-acre parcel in central Malibu owned by the Malibu Bay Company. The group reportedly is seeking funds for environmentally sensitive properties and addressing issues of passive versus active recreational requirements to qualify for the funds.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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