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Sports Fields Fee Would Pay for Rules-Enforcing Park Ranger

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Copyright 2013 The Press Enterprise, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Press Enterprise
September 11, 2013, Wednesday
MAINNEWS; Pg. A2
438 words
PARK RANGER A LIKELY ANSWER
SANDRA STOKLEY STAFF WRITER SSTOKLEY@PE.COM

Jurupa park district officials are considering a proposal to charge a fee to sports groups using fields to cover the cost of a park ranger to enforce park regulations and provide extra security.

"I support the idea," said Richard Marcher, president of the Jurupa Area Recreation and Park District board.

The board is set to take up the proposal by the end of this month.

The district provides parks, facilities and recreation programs for Jurupa Valley residents but is separate from city government.

Marcher said the possibility of creating the position came up after instances in which groups that have reserved a sports field "think they are renting the park."

"They close the parking lot to other people," he said.

Or they use grass fields for parking when a parking lot is filled, he said.

"This is happening a lot more than I think it should," Marcher said.

Dan Rodriguez, park district general manager, said a uniformed park ranger also might deter vandals and graffiti taggers.

The district spends thousands of dollars every year ridding facilities of graffiti and repairing damage from vandalism. The district has 19 facilities including parks, sports fields, riding arenas, a gymnasium, community centers and a skate park.

In April, vandals broke into the electricity room at Vernola Park and took six circuit breakers. Ball games were cancelled because of the lack of lights and it cost the district $56,000 to replace the breakers and make repairs.

The Jurupa Community Services District parks and recreation department, which is developing and oversees Eastvale's park system, pays about $175,000 per year to have a Riverside County sheriff's deputy patrol the city's parks. The 2013-14 contract includes a vehicle.

"We're extremely pleased with the result," said Richard Welch, the district's director of parks and community affairs. "Crime is down in our parks."

Before contracting for a deputy, Eastvale parks were plagued by graffiti, vandalism and illegal drug activity.

Welch said his department also uses a park ranger whose responsibilities include enforcing park regulations, settling disputes between user groups and locking facilities at night.

Riverside has no park rangers. Its parks are patrolled by the Riverside Police Department as part of the Safe Parks Initiative.

Riverside police Lt. Andy Flores said the city is divided into four areas, with the area commander overseeing parks in his sphere of influence.

Officers check parks "24/7," as part of regular patrol duties, Flores said.

Follow Sandra Stokley on Twitter: @SandraStokley or online at http://blog.pe.com/author/sstokley/

September 11, 2013

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