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Thursday, 10 April 2014 04:08

First Meeting of Combined Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission a Success

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| | Alex Cantatore/TurlockCityNews.com|
Say goodbye to the Turlock City Arts Commission and hello to the new, cleverly named Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission – PARC for short.

The new, nine-member commission merges the remains of the former Arts Commission into the longstanding Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission. The new body will assume some of the Arts Commission's former duties while maintaining its focus on local parks and recreation.

"We're really excited about the possibilities this will bring to the city," said Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder.

The PARC unanimously approved a new set of bylaws Wednesday night, setting forth the mission of the merged commission. The bylaws are largely based on those of the former Parks Commission.

But the bylaws look to more clearly define the "arts" part of combined commission's charge. The previous Arts Commission had a wide range of duties, but no money or city help to achieve those goals; the streamlined bylaws approved Wednesday have the commission mainly concerned with hanging art in the City Hall Gallery.

The shift had one former Turlock City Arts Commissioner, Larry Yeakle, initially concerned. Upon reading the bylaws, however, his fears were relieved.

"I was wanting to protect the art side of things, but I think you covered it," Yeakle said.

Yeakle did have one, minor issue with the new PARC. He wished the "Arts" would have come first in the new commission's name.

"It was a better acronym this way," said Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Superintendent Erik Schulze.

Historically one of the city's most powerful boards, the Turlock City Arts Commission led a tenuous existence following the elimination of the City of Turlock’s paid city Arts Facilitator in 2009.

The commission was almost eliminated in 2010. By 2012, Turlock city staff recommended disbandment; the commission had just six members, and met six times in 14 months. A plan to shrink the size of the commission led to a brief surge in interest, but did little for its long term prospects.

Just three members remained on the Arts Commission at the time of its dissolution, all of whom were absorbed into the new PARC. The Arts Commission had not met in four months.

"I'm just excited to be back," said former Arts Commissioner Sergio Alvarado. "After a couple month hiatus, it's good to be getting some work done."

Wednesday night's streamlined meeting, done in less than a half-hour, was a far cry from the meandering, often four-hour long Arts Commission meetings. Former Arts Commissioners excitedly sat at the City Council's dais and used the microphone system; the less formal Arts Commission meetings were conducted around a circular table, with far less City of Turlock support.

"I feel like I moved up to the Triple A farm club here," Yeakle said.

The bylaw revision awaits final approval from the Turlock City Council, expected at their May 13 meeting.


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