Youth soccer activist and Intel technical services manager Don Clark, 48, is seeking a seat on the El Dorado Hills CSD board.
He’s currently the Field Use and Equipment Coordinator for the El Dorado Hills Soccer Club and is also treasurer of the county soccer league, which provides insurance, coach and referee training and handicap soccer for the clubs in the county.
In 2010 Clark offered to help the CSD improve the dismal condition of the variously named East Field, located east of the Teen Center. The CSD’s turf expert recommended a specific hybrid Bermuda that requires 30 percent less water.
The board didn’t want to spend the money, so Clark took matters into his own hands, got three quotes from three CSD-approved landscaping firms and wrote a check for $28,000 from the Soccer Club’s field development fund.
One reason the fund had that much money was that Intel parents like Clark, who log their volunteer time, earn the club $10 for every hour they spend.
He’s running for the board with three priorities:
Multi-purpose athletic facility
A multipurpose sports complex in El Dorado Hills would not only serve the local community, it would be an economic stimulus as a destination for regional tournament play.
As a soccer dad, Clark has spent a lot of time in such facilities, and has researched how they are funded. He said he thinks it can be done in El Dorado Hills with private money, and also believes an economic study would show that it would pay for itself.
He cites Folsom’s complex, located behind Home Depot, as a good example and a huge success. It has four baseball diamonds and eight soccer fields, plus a busy multi-purpose gym that hosts volleyball, indoor soccer, basketball and contains studios for all sorts of recreational programming.
“Folsom’s facility is pretty much self-sustaining at this point,” he said. “There are a lot of people here that are willing to help. I work with some and I know others.”
Clark said he wants to see more and better sports fields in El Dorado Hills. As a soccer coach, he sees field conditions in other communities and said they are “almost always better than ours.”
Clark also wants to see more fields within the CSD.
“We don’t have enough fields for all the kids who want to play sports,” he said. “We’re constantly stepping on each others’ toes and fighting internally for field space. It’s ridiculous because we have enough land; we just don’t have the fields.”
Clark promises to question everything on the expense side of the ledger sheet in his first year. He’s particularly irked at the district’s propensity for hiring consultants to perform work that current staff is qualified for, or that might be volunteered by a qualified resident.
He cites his own offer to bring in a team to conduct an independent review of the district IT infrastructure. “I have interns and the ability to launch a community project like this with very qualified people.”
To date, his offer stands, but has not been accepted, he said.
Clark said he offered to fund a pedestrian bridge across New York Creek, providing access to the south field, so that young kids in Friday night soccer clinics wouldn’t have to walk the long way around the Teen Center, out of sight of parents and coaches, to get across the creek.
He recalls Interim Parks Director Mark Riemer telling him that the 6-foot bridge would require a $75,000 environmental study.
He contacted district landscape engineering firm Stantec, who’d recently done a similar study for a more substantive bridge at the north end of the park, and learned that their analysis extended to the location of his proposed bridge, just north of the Teen Center. All that was needed was some rewording of the report, which they offered up at no charge, he said.
Riemer subsequently refused Stantec’s offer. “He said I probably coerced them,” said Clark, who gave up, and decided to run for the board.
With responsibility for Intel’s world wide collaboration budget, “I have the ability to run projects on time on budget on a global scale,” he said.
“I’m used to a high-paced environment, and I have the business acumen to look at things and know if they make sense,” he said. “Bottom line, I get measured on whether it is on time, on budget and works.”
Clark promised a thorough analysis of the budget during his first year, followed by an in-depth survey of the residents to see what they want. “I’ll spend the next two years delivering it,” he said. “You can do a lot in four years. Intel doesn’t strategic plan for more than three. We need to decide to do stuff, then get it done.”
He assures the voters that he’s a fiscal conservative, “but that doesn’t mean you stop spending,” he said. “You just spend smarter.”
He said the soccer leagues are willing to do more, “but no one asks.”
He explained that his real motivation in running for the board is simply to give back to a community that’s been good to his family. “I’ve been blessed in many ways,” he said. “What I really want is to leave a legacy for my kids, to leave this place better than we found it.”