Council delays vote on Reagan commission

Concerns brought up regarding any potential city funds used to rename Bonita Canyon Sports Park after the 40th president.

October 27, 2010|By Joanna Clay,

Editor's note: This corrects the headline. The City Council has not made a final decision about changing the name of Bonita Canyon Sports Park.

NEWPORT BEACH — During Tuesday's City Council meeting, Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry's proposal to form the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission led to a debate about whether it made sense to allocate any public resources to honor a political figure.

The proposed commission would be in charge of commemorating the centennial of the late president's birth with a monument, a celebration and new signage for Bonita Canyon Sports Park, which would be renamed for Reagan.


Curry last week said his project would rely on private funds, adding, "No taxpayers' money will be involved with the monument or naming of park."

However, some questioned how to interpret the use of public funds, as Tuesday's council agenda showed instances where taxpayers could be contributing to the project by way of allocating public-employee hours toward the effort to honor the 40th president and former California governor.

As far as using city staff's manpower, the mayor said any contribution would be minimal.

City staff would help with appointing a subcommittee for reviewing applications, recommending appointments to the commission and directing the Recreation and Senior Services Department to provide staffing to the commission, according to a city staff report on the matter.

When asked earlier in the week about city staff being used in the formation of the commission, City Manager David Kiff said that by involving the city at all the proposal will cost taxpayers.

"Anything I do costs taxpayers money," Kiff said. "If they're able to do [fund the effort privately] and cover costs, then it won't cost taxpayers anything."

Councilman Ed Selich felt that the mayor may be moving too quickly to form the commission. He wanted to first hear back from parks commissioners.

"I've got some real concerns about this item," Selich said. "I still think it's premature until we get a recommendation from the parks commission."

Curry proposed that the council allow the commission to be created so that it and the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission can bring their recommendations back to the council and they can look at all the information "in one fell swoop."

Selich stood his ground.

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