sign at Amundson Park informs

A sign at Amundson Park informs visitors why the basketball court is in disrepair. The Cosumnes CSD staff reduced maintenance there, due to a funding shortfall.

Local parks provider the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) is mailing out a survey to more than 4,400 property owners in north Elk Grove this month. The parks staff wants to know if the recipients are willing to pay higher maintenance fees to restore the upkeep of their local parks.

Eleven parks in the district’s Benefit Zone 3 underwent cuts to their irrigation, mowing and weed control last year, due to shortfalls in maintenance funds. Affected parks include Amundson, Fales, Gage, Jones, and Karamanos.

Planned parks in the Arcadian Village and Sheldon Place neighborhoods remain unbuilt, due to insufficient maintenance funds paid by local property owners.

“Having an assessment increase would remove one of the roadblocks to building those parks,” CSD Management Analyst Josh Branco told the Citizen.

The survey responses are due to the district by Dec. 16. Branco said parks staff will present the survey results to the CSD board on Jan. 15. The board can then decide if it will open a ballot vote for property owners across Benefit Zone 3, which runs from Sheldon Road to the south, Calvine Road to the north, and Elk Grove-Florin Road to the east.

Under California’s Proposition 218, the CSD can only increase park maintenance fees if the hike is approved by the majority of affected property owners in a ballot vote. In 2009, voters in Benefit Zone 3 rejected higher maintenance fees.

Last year, signs of blight such as dead grass, weed-filled vacant lots, under-watered trees, and broken playground equipment prompted activists to lead campaigns for a second ballot vote in order to restore Macdonald and Perry parks. Those parks lie in Benefit Zone 3, and the majority of property owners who live near those two parks approved higher fees this summer.

The CSD then created “overlay zones” to specifically fund the maintenance of Macdonald and Perry parks this year. Branco said the new parks survey will not be mailed to property owners who live in those zones. He added that surveys will also not be mailed to residents who live near Rau Park, since that large park is considered to be a community park, not a neighborhood park.

The proposed fee increases vary by neighborhood. Branco explained that the fees are based on the sizes and scopes of each park. For instance, property owners near Gage and Hrepich parks could pay an annual $74 fee, while property owners near Lombardi Park could pay $196 annually.

Branco said that if the majority of property owners say they are willing to pay increased park maintenance fees in the new survey then the CSD could open a ballot vote next April.

“Our goal is to have all of these areas restored,” he said. “If we can’t do all of them, then we want to serve the greatest amount of people possible.”