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Rossmoor Rally Opposes Event Center

Two hundred hear speakers call for better representation from Golden Rain Foundation board.

Wednesday's rains failed to swamp the zeal of activists opposing Rossmoor's plans to build an event center. It did drive them inside, though, as a planned march Wednesday morning became an indoor rally of about 200 people at the Fireside Room.

Several speakers asked for better governance by the board of directors of the Golden Rain Foundation, which makes policy for Rossmoor.

"I'm unhappy with the representation I have received on the GRF board," said Wayne Lanier. "We need to demand courteous representation."

"We might win this battle or we might lose it," said Philip Wesler. "We can't afford to lose the war … We have to make this board and future boards ultimately responsive to the residents."

Opponents — organized as Save Our Stanley — are critical of the event center location impinging on the beauty of the grounds of nearby Stanley Dollar Clubhouse, the effect on trees in the area, traffic, safety and the debt load for Rossmoor.

Speaker Kathleen Solares noted some differences in the crowd. "Whether you're against the event center, or against the event center on the (Stanley Dollar Clubhouse) grounds, we have a similar goal," she said.

Mary Birss, maintaining that the opponents don't have a voice at the board of directors level, said, "Let's have a town meeting." She added, "We don't have to slam these people. They are hard-working volunteers."

"The Event Center project is the latest in a list of significant capital projects which have been considered/built in Rossmoor over its now almost-50-year history," wrote Rossmoor Chief Executive Officer Warren Salmons in an emailed statement. "True to form, this project has become the topic of much passionate debate. This is a norm in our diverse community of over 9,000 residents. The project has been discussed as far back as the Creekside master planning process in 2003-2006, and would be the fourth of the five buildings planned for the Creekside Clubhouse Complex.The first three were completed in early 2010. The 2011-2012 Golden Rain Foundation Board of Directors, elected by residents from 9 districts covering the Rossmoor community, made moving forward to get firm cost information for this building its top priority."

As to the borrowing for the event center and other Rossmoor construction projects, a recent Rossmoor News column by David Smith, who chairs the Golden Rain Foundation Finance Committee, explained the application of interest rates and the effect on the Rossmoor Trust account.

Smith also prepared answers for frequently asked questions about the event center for an issue of the Rossmoor News last year.

What's next?

There are two forums for what's next on the issue.

  • The Walnut Creek City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20.
  • The GRF board of directors meets on March 29, when it is expected to review bids on the event center. The decisions are being made with the backdrop of elections for board members, with mail ballots going out April 13 to be mailed back by April 24.

With the City Council, Bob Dickson said he was asking the city to put something on the agenda about the Rossmoor event center issue.

The city's involvement in the event center, with a Design Review Commission approval three years ago, was the subject of a March 13 public records request by Rossmoor activist Wayne Lanier. In the letter, Lanier cited a statement at an Oct. 4, 2011, City Council meeting by Walnut Creek Community Development Director Sandra Meyer that the Creekside project did not come before the council in 2009 as it needed only a city design review process because it was "only replacing existing old buildings." Lanier countered that the event center is a new structure not replacing an existing building. Lanier's letter to the city is attached to this article.

When Rossmoor activists came to the City Council March 6, the petition against the event center numbered 3,356, Kathleen Solares said. It has added in 127 names in the intervening days, Solares said, and more signatures were being added while the meeting was going on.

"Do not desecrate the land in front of the Dollar house because, if Gertrude Stein were here, she's say, 'There is no there there,'" said Solares. The project will take away a chipping area for golfers and force the reconfiguration of the 18th green, she said.

The construction will have periods in which Stanley Dollar Drive, a traffic artery of Rossmoor, will necessarily have to be shut down completely, Bob Dickson said. For instance, when crews are cutting down trees and grinding them up to clear a spot for the event center, they will have to close that area to drivers, walkers and golf carters, he said.

"That building does not belong in that location, period," said Dickson.

Some signs:

  • Save Our Green Space.
  • Occupy Rossmoor.
  • Rossmoor is a corporate entity, not a democracy.

The meeting was enlivened by the Dixieland music of the Spirit of '29.

Triple Canopy March 14, 2012 at 11:05 PM
"Rossmoor is a corporate entity, not a democracy". That's right. And the residents PAID to live in Rossmoor and by that action, are subject to the decisions of its elected officials.
Jane Vinson March 15, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I find this a clear and fair and substantive covering of the SOS meeting yesterday. Thanks for being part of "the alternative media". Jane Vinson
kathleen solares March 15, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Oh dear Triple Canopy, Just a minor correction to your wonderful observation about "Rossmoor is a corporate entity, not a democracy." "And the residents Paid to live in Rossmoor and by that action are "Subjected " to the decisions of it elected officials."
Triple Canopy March 15, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Whatever Kathleeen.... you offer nothing of value on the issue.
michael frederick March 15, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Actually, TC, Kathleen offers a lot of value. While the board can assert its authority to drive this right down everyone's throat -- as you aver they have the authority to do -- it is also true, as Kathleen points out, that residents can publicly display their displeasure with elected officials who seek to prioritize their own agenda by frustrating the process of listening, meant to assure they reflect those they are SUPPOSED to serve -- constituents. Why would anyone but a fascist oppose listening and getting it right? Arguments about sufficient notice, when it is obvious the community did not receive it in any meaningful fashion, might enjoy the legal entitlement you suggest but, they're also pathetic and a measure of the board's political ineptitude. This has nothing but meaning, in terms of informing fellow residents about board member conduct. It has nothing but meaning for future elections and the effort to bring better representation to Rossmoor by clearing-out dead wood, should that prove to be the case. After all, your whole argument revolves around the board's authority as elected officials, doesn't it? Kathleen is relevant in terms of exposing board behavior. Whether that political pressure can influence decision-making on the Dollar issue at hand, remains to be seen. In any case, it is obviously relevant.
Patricia A Dickson March 16, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Regarding ‘democracy, ‘please read the definition below: “The most common system that is deemed "democratic" in the modern world is parliamentary democracy in which the voting public takes part in elections and chooses politicians to represent them in a Legislative Assembly. The members of the assembly then make decisions with a majority vote.” This is the process in Rossmoor and this information was available to you before purchasing in the community. Who are you to tell us what is good for us? We, as individuals, will make our own decisions and, if the decisions don't happen to agree with yours, then all the rest of us are wrong. Is that it? Many of us are very happy living in Rossmoor. How many of your group use the facilities (that some of you protested against). How many volunteer in positive ways. Who are you to take your signs outside to "warn people coming in that they should not move to Rossmoor." It's your groups opinion, your right to speak, but frankly, many, many of us are more than tired of you telling us what is good for us and trashing our community at every possible opportunity. This is America. You have choices in the type of community in which you reside. Consider practicing them.
Mary Anne Clark March 16, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Pat Dickson, No one said democracy is easy! Everyone should be able to voice an opinion. No one is stopping you from being happy in Rossmoor. You are busy with your clubs and volunteer work which is very noble. I'm glad that makes you happy. There are many of us that are unhappy that we are going to be prevented from enjoying a place we feel is precious, the Stanley Dollar lawn. Have you seen the new blossoms on the crab apple trees this week? The emerald green lawn? This is what we feel is sacred and beautiful in Rossmoor and many of us are grieving that it is being paved over for a parking lot. A parking lot! Can you imagine? How would you feel if someone were to yank out your garden?...or maybe you don't have one or have never had one. Maybe you do not care about beautiful places...some people have no feeling one way or another. There is something very precious about a well-designed garden that gives many of us pleasure; in this case 3600+ people have signed the SOS petition to stop the event center. People find solace in a place like this. It matters. It matters a lot. Sorry you have no feeling for it. I suspect there are those who don't. But more than half the residents of Rossmoor have signed this petition and it matters to them. And these people have been treated very nastily by the GRF Board. It is shameful and a blot on Rossmoor. You should be angry at the Board, not the people who want to preserve the beauty of Rossmoor.
Patricia A Dickson March 16, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Ms. Clarke, "But more than half the residents of Rossmoor have signed this petition.." Incorrect, again. The signators are not representative of "more than half" the residents. Not even close. Do not presume to know how I feel about the beauty of Rossmoor. The way you and your group have gone about trying to make your point has tarnished some of the beauty of Rossmoor and it's not appreciated. There is no purpose in continuing posting here. Take it to the 'chat.' 'The Patch' is a newpaper, not a "Rossmoor forum."
michael frederick March 16, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Ms. Dickson, You are erroneous in a couple of key areas. First, as stated before, you confuse the Board with Rossmoor. It is no more Rossmoor than the WC City Council is Walnut Creek... If I disagree with some policy of President Obama or Senator Frank, am I anti-American? That's rather silly, isn't it? Second, Rossmoor residents are residents of Walnut Creek and it is entirely appropriate for them to appear in a Walnut Creek Patch FORUM. Rossmoor is not autonomous and, the last time I checked, even your almighty Board must go before City Hall. Your Board does not enjoy the luxury of simply doing its own thing, as you and TC wish to promote. Third, a representative democracy DOES NOT mean one hands one's right to free speech and conscientious objection in with the guard at the front gate. Just because so-and-so won an election does not convey soverign authority -- with the expectation that the governed should simply shut-up and fall in line. That's an incredible assertion I hope precious few can appreciate. Fourth, it bothers me immensely that you are not only a Rossmoor (Board) advocate but a reporter -- a contradiction that announces clearly that your advocacy trumps any obligation, you might otherwise maintain, to objectively report. That you, as a reporter, are confused between this interactive electronic FORUM and a "newspaper" is equally disturbing. Fifth, I'm still waiting for clarification on the "tecnology" bombs you previously dropped.
Mary Anne Clark March 16, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Thank you, Michael. Pat's a reporter???? She can't even spell my name correctly. How is she going to handle important facts?!!! I just want to say, the GRF is so accustomed to patting the seniors on the head and having them go away that it is very uncomfortable when they don't disappear with a shake of the wand. When I first moved to Rossmoor, I heard horror stories about GRF Board members treating residents badly. Those same members are the ones you see telling the world what a great place Rossmoor is and how the GRF actions are justified because of their 13-year-old master plan even though they are ignoring their own survey from March 2010 in which 70% of residents viewed an event center as a "low priority" .

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