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.
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.
- 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.