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Residents in west Roseville at odds over potential split of neighborhood association

Disagreement has sparked frustration within the Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, the umbrella group for associations
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article addresses the potential split of the WestPark-Fiddyment Farm Neighborhood Association. A second article addressing the background of this issue will appear in the Wednesday, Oct. 13 issue of the Press Tribune. ---------- The Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations is supposed to be "the voice of the people who live and work in Roseville.” These voices have been loud and frustrated lately. The all-volunteer, nonprofit, non-political organization comprised of representatives from the city’s individual neighborhood associations was formed to work together to fight crime, assist with social gatherings and improve the quality of life in Roseville. But RCONA has recently become a hotbed of infighting, personality conflicts and disagreements over the future of specific neighborhood associations within the umbrella organization. The disagreements reached a boiling point during RCONA’s last board meeting Sept. 16. On the agenda: Four requests for neighborhood associations to be recognized for membership in RCONA, including the WestPark Neighborhood Association and WestPark-Fiddyment Farm Neighborhood Alliance. It might seem simple enough. But the problem is that both of these associations can’t be eligible for membership in RCONA, and recognizing the WestPark group would consequently lead to the formal split of the WestPark-Fiddyment Farm Neighborhood Association (WFFNA), which currently sits inactive. The people who originally formed this association in 2008 decided to start a new alliance — once the last one became defunct — of the same two developments. The president of the inactive WFFNA, Don Brown, is now pitted against these residents as he tries instead to get his WestPark Neighborhood Association recognized. Two years ago, WFFNA formed with the intent to separate into two associations in the future. The association covers two developments in west Roseville, which currently have 2,210 units that house about 5,600 people and will boast thousands more homeowners in the next several years once the area is built out. Although WFFNA will eventually split, some residents think a break at this time is premature. “It certainly wasn’t intended to split up now,” said WestPark resident Amy Aufdemberge to the Press Tribune. A few days before the September meeting, West Park resident Rich Fabbre — who was instrumental in the formation of WFFNA — sent an e-mail to a listserv of neighbors asking who opposed or supported the split. He said he agrees the association should eventually split, but the timing isn’t right. “The residents of WFFNA do not want to be split at this time,” Fabbre told the Press Tribune. “I have responses from both developments saying they want to stay as one.” Melissa McWherter, who lives in WestPark, told the board she received that e-mail during the meeting. “I’m the only one in my development to see that letter,” McWherter said. “I’d like to have a neighborhood meeting before a decision is made (to split) … People in my neighborhood don’t know what’s going on. I think we need to find out what the motives really are.” In the e-mail sent Sept. 14, Fabbre said the two developments are both covered by a single plan called the West Roseville Specific Plan, which covers zoning, lot sizes, schools, parks, streets, basic infrastructure, air quality and transportation. “Because both developments are covered by the same plan, changes to it impact all the residents of both developments equally … we need a single neighborhood association to monitor plan changes, assess impact on residents and be a representative communications conduit to the developers and the city,” Fabbre said in the e-mail. “Lacking strong representation, our voice will carry little weight.” Fabbre sent the message on a Tuesday night and by Thursday, he said he had more than 100 responses and all but one opposed the split. “It’s a very slanted email," said RCONA President Ex-Officio Mike Hazen during the meeting. He refused to comment on the WFFNA issue further to the Press Tribune. At the center of the split debate is a motion passed during a special RCONA meeting in February. Coalition Vice President Larry Bergeron had requested the meeting in response to the “disagreements between members about alleged improprieties within the administration of the WestPark-Fiddyment Farm Neighborhood Association.” The letter stated the goal to divide the association into two distinct neighborhoods. Bergeron expressed concern that WFFNA could become the single largest association and become unwieldy because of a demonstrated inability to resolve issues. The letter clarifies this is not to divide WFFNA into separate associations — RCONA doesn’t have this authority — but to identify and establish neighborhoods. The motion passed unanimously. Additionally, the board passed an addendum by resident Jack Wallace that the final decision to create two associations would remain with the residents who live in those areas. During the September meeting, RCONA member-at-large Jim Kidd suggested the group suspend discussion of the motion to consider the eligibility of the four neighborhood associations for membership until the coalition’s October board meeting. “The people of that zone — forget the name of it—are supposed to decide,” Kidd said. “Somehow we have to get the word out and let them decide.” Brown, who is president of the WestPark Neighborhood Association and RCONA, wants to see the two developments in west Roseville form two separate associations. “I don’t believe I’m splitting,” Brown told the Press Tribune. “I’m just forming.” He said he wants his neighbors to begin to heal and move past previous disagreements. During the meeting, Fabbre and Brown agreed to combine their separate databases and send an e-mail to more residents to get a greater insight into whether a split of WestPark-Fiddyment Farm Neighborhood Association should occur now. The group asked RCONA board member Adam Chervenak to prepare an unbiased letter and submit to Fabbre and Brown for approval, which would then be sent to residents. Chervenak agreed, but about five days later he resigned from the coalition. So now residents of WestPark and Fiddyment Farm are once again left wondering about the future of their neighborhood associations, and whether a split will occur during October’s meeting — or a new association will form in its place. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.