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Have a Question for Kyla Brown?

Kyla Brown, The Park Districts general Manager, provides a platform for staff to share information and ask questions. Visit the Ask the GM

Recent Q&A Responses

With everything that has occurred this year, I want to know what RivCoParks big picture plan is. It would be nice to see upgrades in campground facilities, but knowing that our financial situation is still recovering, when would we start seeing CIPs being planned and scheduled? Ideally, it would be nice to know what our possible outlooks for the future would look like.

Thank you for your inquiry about CIP projects and investments in our Parks. It is challenging to plan for investments when we still face financial uncertainty I the midst of the pandemic. That said, we still have to plan and chip away at our infrastructure needs. This year is no exception. As the pandemic began, we evaluated the projects planned for the current year. Since many of these are grand funded, we were able to continue without interruption. These projects include:

  • Segments of the Santa Ana River Trail
  • Salt Creek Trail
  • Kabian OHV Restoration Project
  • Hidden Valley Shade Shelters 

Other CIP projects have dedicated funding sources that we have continued to work on:

  • Harford Springs Trailhead
  • Rancho Jurupa Park Splashpad Improvements
  • Lake Skinner Sewer Improvement Project
  • Jensen-Alvarado Ranch – Lead Abatement & Repainting
  • Santa Rosa Plateau ADA Improvements
  • Santa Rosa Plateau Amphitheater Replacement
  • Cal OES Repairs at McCall & Hurkey Creek

As we embark on planning for the next year, we’ll evaluate our budget status and review our list of CIP projects to determine priorities. On the horizon are the following projects and their identified funding sources:

  • Santa Ana River Trail (multiple phases) – Primarily Grant Funded/ Some DIF Funding
  • Lake Skinner Boat Launch – Grant Funded
  • Lake Skinner Lift Station #1 Replacement – DIF funds
  • Mayflower Sewer Project – Solar Project Funds, District CIP funds, Prop 68 Per Capita Funds

Ultimately, the number, type and location of projects will depend on the amount of operating, CIP and specific grant funds we have available.

Why are you interested in County vs City parks and recreation operations?  It seems like you are city type girl?

Well, I’m not sure what a “city type girl” is, but yes, I grew up in and currently live in a city…and I can see how being in the office all day makes me appear like a city girl, as clothing for Board Meeting is not the same as clothing worn for a day out exploring our trails.  Believe me, if it was socially appropriate to wear jeans and t-shirts to a board meeting I would do so!

Parks folks come from all types of backgrounds and that’s what makes us unique, there is something for everybody.  Whether you like fishing, boating, camping, hiking, birding, biking, riding a horse, learning about history or learning about nature – there is something for everyone.  We all have room to find something to learn about and enjoy in our parks.

As you may know, I worked for the City of Fontana both in Parks/Recreation and in the City Manager’s office.  I believe there is a natural progression from City Parks work to County Parks work which operates on a regional level.  I began in the field of recreation, and learned about all aspects of the work that cities provide…from active programs and events to performing arts and community centers. I’ve done everything from clean restrooms and painting buildings to producing large scale events and public television shows.  I soon began to have an interest in how I could make an impact at a larger level and I needed more challenges.  When I came to county parks I again started in recreation management but moved to something larger and broader with oversight of the parks from an administrative level.  I have overseen every aspect of the work, which involves work in an office (City) to work out in the field.   

I think this question is a good one because it also shows me that sharing my story helps connect with all of you in new and different ways.  We all come from different backgrounds and interests but we have all found our place here.

At our first All Staff Meeting, right before the pandemic started, you mentioned how much you love reading.  Would you like to share with us what you are reading, what you really enjoyed reading in recent weeks, or what book(s) you gifted the most? – Nori Gardner

Dear Nori,

I love reading and talking about books, so thank you for your question! I’ve been reading a lot lately to distract myself from the reality of this pandemic (and since there is nothing good on television!). I love to read all types of books, but my favorites are fictional novels based on history. Two recent books I love are The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer and The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. Lisa Wingate also wrote Before We Were Yours, another terrific historical novel.

On the more educational side, The Forest Ranger by Herbert Kaufman, which is a study of administrative behavior (I can see some of you yawning now), and The National Parks, America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns are two books I turn back to often. The latter explains the history of how national parks became an American priority and the process early parks pioneers went through to help set aside and preserve these national treasures.

In general, I love science based books, science-fiction, professional self-help books, business how-tos, mysteries, and books about religion. Pretty much anything that has words! Another favorite book from this past year is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This book is set in the late 1960s in the marshlands of North Carolina. While the story was wonderful, I loved the focus on the natural world that the book includes, educating the reader about the marshland habitat and the creatures that make their home in that setting.

Finally, books that I am gifted the most have to do with nature, science and history. My family members (my mom, sisters and aunts) all love to read, and we trade books whenever we see each other.

I just read your latest email [referring to COVID-19 Update #12 I believe] that stated we will be providing face masks to guest(s) if they do not have one. Why would we be giving away are VERY limited supplies that we use for (our) staff and volunteers? As it becomes harder to get PPE, such as gloves and masks, and now we have to give them out. The rule should be to protect the staff first. I do not want to make a big argument with my supervisors because we are all doing are best to get supplies such as gloves and masks that are not really coming. What are you going to do about us running out of PPE when we keep requesting it and nothing is coming in. 

I appreciate you reaching out about masks. Our goal is to help protect employees, volunteers AND guests, and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As I included in my Update #12 (dated 6/17), it was issued as a County-wide directive to all departments and employees that work for the County – including Parks – to provide disposable masks to guests if they forgot or did not bring their own. The goal of the directive is not to refuse service or turn away customers if they did not come prepared to do business with a mask on. As a government agency and public service provider, our goal is to help. This includes providing disposable masks when needed.

We have also taken steps to provide adequate supplies for staff and volunteers. I (and Chief McLain) personally delivered cloth bandanas before the County required it for use by employees and volunteers. The County EOC provided 2 masks per employee, which were delivered the same week as message #12 was delivered. We ordered extra gloves and disinfectants. I have repeatedly asked supervisors to communicate their needs for supplies so that we can ensure there is adequate supply for the essential services we continue to provide through this pandemic. If you are not getting the supplies you need and those needs have not been addressed by your supervisor, I welcome you to email your Chief, our Assistant Director or me directly and we will address your needs. If you continue to have concerns about your safety, please do the same. I cannot express enough that your safety is a priority. 

(Regarding) the premier developed sites…what qualifies these as first of all, premier, secondly, developed. These are not developed any more than the rest of the sites in the park. Shouldn’t we provide some little extra something?  (No idea what that could be). Or rename them “Top Requested”, as opposed to “Premier Developed”?

“Developed” sites is a term we have always used to define a site that is more than a primitive spot to pitch your tent or park your rig. If the site has been graded, leveled, has water and/or electricity and/or sewer hook-ups, it is considered “developed.”

In terms of “premier,” we modeled the term after the private sector (and some public sector) parks that differentiate “premier,” “premium,” “deluxe,” etc. to identify those sites that are in high demand. Often, the view, proximity to amenities  such as play areas, open grass areas, trails, lake, etc., helps to determine this designation. At State Park campgrounds they use the term Premium to designate sites with no additional amenities other than proximity to a resource like a beach, a view or something highly desirable.  For our parks, we looked at how often sites were booked – or top requested to use your term – as well as what amenities were nearby. We conferred with site supervisors to ensure the sites that were designated as “Premier” were the ones most sought after and booked out by customers. We chose the word “premier” because by definition it means “first in position, rank, or importance” (Merriam-Webster definition). Could we have picked a different word? Yes. We happened to like “premier.”

When you took your new position at GM, did anyone say, “it’s not like you will have to deal with a pandemic or anything?”  Just keeping it light and fun!  Just wanted to say you’re doing a great job!

NO! Ha! When people told me I had big shoes to fill, they had no idea…and neither did I. I certainly did not imagine my first 6 months to look they way they did. That said, I believe everything happens for a reason and according to “plan” because realistically, we have no control over most things. I can say these first 6+ months have tested me considerably, humbled me, and taught me so much about adapting and remaining resilient (which is a term I am sure you are all sick of hearing!). If I can make it through this, I might just well be able to survive anything thrown my way…with the help of each of you of course!  We are all in this together.

Thank you for the words of encouragement. To echo the sentiments of many great leaders before me…this, too, shall pass.