By Layla Abbas
UPDATE, Mar. 29, 4:30 p.m.: The special city council meeting regarding the policy about board, commission and committee appointments, membership and responsibilities was rescheduled from March 30 to April 8 at 6 p.m.
The San Dimas Parks and Recreation Commission has been unable to meet since November of 2020 primarily because of four vacancies, according to Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Jan Bartolo.
Hector Kistemann, director of the Parks and Recreation Department was removed from his position and placed on paid administrative leave on Oct. 14, 2020. According to a claim filed against the city, Kistemann was not told why he was being removed. Kistemann resigned from his position on Feb. 10, 2021.
The city received applicants for the Parks and Recreation Commission last year, but on Nov. 24, San Dimas City Council postponed scheduling interviews to fill those and other commission vacancies, preventing the Parks Commission from meeting.
“We currently do not have a quorum to conduct the commission meetings,” Bartolo said.
A quorum is the minimum number of people that are required in order to conduct an official meeting.
“It has been hard to get together and convene anyway,” Bartolo said. “Some cities have temporarily held up on board and commission meetings. We did have some nice momentum when the board was meeting, so it will be nice to regain the traction again.”
Despite not being able to meet as a body, Assistant City Manager Brad McKinney said the department has continued its normal operations.
In an email on Feb. 5, McKinney said San Dimas Parks is monitoring and complying with LA County COVID-19 guidelines and continuing programs like San Dimas Cares.
“Senior and Recreation programs continue to be provided virtually and programs will expand as COVID-19 guidelines allow,” McKinney said in the same email.
McKinney said some recently completed projects include the Loma Vista Park Playground installation, basketball court resurfacing, Pioneer Park court resurfacing, SPLEX tennis court resurfacing, rehabilitation to the SPLEX fields and maintenance to the dog park.
The city council will hold a special meeting regarding the policy about board, commission and committee appointments, membership and responsibilities on April 8 at 6 p.m.
Neighboring Parks Departments Pivot During Pandemic
Yvonne Duran, recreation coordinator for the City of La Verne, said their top priority has been senior residents.
“We have set up virtual coffee talks, bingo, curbside meal drop-off, and more to check up on our senior residents.”
Duran said the department has started a senior newsletter that is available online and handed out during curbside meal drop-offs.
In addition, Duran said their Preschool on the Go program has been a huge success.
“Our team delivers the educational items to the families that they can complete on their own time,” Duran said. “We have about 50 to 60 participants every month.”
Duran and her team are planning a special and safe graduation celebration when the preschoolers graduate in May.
Outdoor activities like agility, gymnastics and virtual classes offered through Mt. San Jacinto are still active.
Daisy Flores, human services leader for Claremont, said although this year limited in-person interactions, her team met bi-weekly to share new ideas and ways to keep up community involvement.
“We had to change up the process for our senior meal distribution and find a safe way to deliver meals,” Flores said. “Seniors can either drive up to our building or, if they are unable, we safely drop off the meals at their doorstep.”
Flores said the virtual classes like Zumba, coding and drawing have remained a popular hit throughout the year.
“The classes will continue to be held virtually through summer,” Flores said. “We have not yet heard about the plans for fall and whether or not the online classes will continue.”
Wilderness passes for the Claremont Loop, a popular hiking trail, have remained available to the public, Flores said.
Annie Warner, recreation superintendent for community services, said the Glendora commission took a six-month hiatus in 2020 because of no special events to discuss.
The commission resumed monthly meetings in February, which take place the third Thursday of each month over Zoom.
“One activity we had to adjust and ended up being well-accepted from the community was concerts in your front lawn instead of concerts in the park,” Warner said. “Everyone gathered safely in their front yard and enjoyed hanging out.”
Warner said outdoor activities like guided hikes, PE classes with recreation leaders and outdoor conditioning classes were still offered in a safe manner throughout the pandemic.
Recreation leaders also dropped off activity boxes to residents and would demonstrate the activity via Zoom. Some activities included how to build a lava lamp, how to make a pizza and how to paint.
Warner said it was important for her department to pivot and find new ways to ensure the community felt involved during a rather isolating time.
Disclaimer: Isabel Ebiner, managing editor for the San Dimas Community Post and daughter-in-law of Councilmember John Ebiner, edited this story for AP Style.