City looks to take over recreation

By Nancy Gutierrez

The Lindsay Recreational Authority (LRA) is the offspring of a Joint Powers Agreement by the city, school district and Healthy Kids Healthy Lindsay.

Its purpose was to set-up and organize recreational activities for community members including children.

But as the creation of the Wellness Center nears, city administrators have discussed the possibility of assuming most of the responsibility for recreational activities, and reducing if not dissolving the LRA.

"We believe the city should have more control," Mayor Ed Murray said. "It should be the city's responsibility to handle recreation. There will be more recreational activity at the Wellness Center."

As a separate entity from the city, the LRA's responsibilities in providing recreation stretch to providing insurance coverage and workers compensation for participants and employees. Without insurance the LRA board members were vulnerable to lawsuits. But providing insurance raised the cost of fees to participate in sporting events.

Lindsay Unified School District Superintendent Janet Kliegl said, with the city in control of the LRA, more money could be spent on recreation instead of insurance.

"It will benefit the children and community," she said.

Murray said the entire scope of recreation in Lindsay would be changed under the city. With activities taking place in the Wellness Center, city employees could be used to facilitate activities and insurance and workers compensation would fall under the city's responsibility.

The first step in approaching this change was to amend the JPA, which stated any partner looking to withdraw had to give a two-year notice. The two-year notice would allow other members of the JPA to find a replacement for the absent partner. In a recent meeting between the three entities the notice was changed to six months.

"Down the road in the fall we are going to bid on the Wellness Center. Twelve to 18 months later, when it is almost open we will give notice to pull out, [of the JPA with the LRA]" Murray said.

Six months after they have withdrawn from the LRA and the Wellness Center is built the city could potentially be responsible for a majority of city recreation. What is still being discussed is what will happen with the LRA. The city, school district and Healthy Kids Healthy Lindsay, each provided an equal share of funding or equitable services to the program. Murray said the city and school district each give approximately $22,500 to help fund recreational activities. The city hopes the school district would continue to contribute their portion to recreational activities, though how those funds are used would be handled differently.

"The recreation board would not be as it is now," Murray said. "We have not decided on what the LRA would do."

Kliegl said she anticipates that a representative from each of the original entities would preside on an advisory board. There is also the issue of the Teen Zone, which is a product of the LRA and not a city-run program. Murray said details concerning the Teen Zone still need to be looked into, but it would continue to be maintained.

"We are really not that far along," He said. "We are discussing where we are right now and where we are going in the future."

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