Approved 4-0, with Councilman Brandon Richey absent, the Civic Center Five Year Financing and Phasing Plan lays out the location of major community facilities (see graphic, Page 17A) and how they will be paid for. Designs and other specifics of each element in the plan have yet to be determined, and will be processed as individual projects come forward, City Manager Donna Landeros told the council.
The plan will be paid for with bonds from the city's redevelopment district (RDA, $23.5 million) community facilities districts (CFDs, $36.5 million), developer fees ($34.4 million) and cash from the General Fund ($14 million). No additional taxes will be needed to complete the projects, according to Finance Director Pam Ehler.
The downtown portion of the plan includes:
•$20 million for a new community building and arts center.
•$2 million for restoration of City Park.
•$39 million for a new City Hall and council chambers.
•$17.5 million for three parking structures.
•$1.2 million for a Civic Center Plaza and fountain.
•$2 million to relocate the library.
•$6 million to re-do downtown streetscapes.
Also included in the downtown portion of the plan is $10 million for the relocation of the Liberty Union High School District bus barn, as well as the pool and five tennis courts at Liberty High School. The bus barn will be located at the city's Sunset Road corporation yard while its ultimate location near Delta Road and Sellers Avenue is purchased and prepared by the district, Landeros said.
The Liberty pool and tennis courts will be moved to district land near Ohmstede Field. The city will build eight tennis courts and a competition pool, each of which will become joint-use facilities accessible to the public during school off-hours.
The relocation of the Liberty facilities is needed to accommodate the community/arts center, plaza, City Hall and Civic Center parking garage. It's the first step in an orchestrated plan that will enable sequential construction or relocations in the rest of the plan. For example:
• The Liberty facilities must be moved to build City Hall.
• City Hall must be completed in order to move city offices from the library's new site.
• The old library can then be demolished to expand City Park back to its original size.
Also to be demolished is the current Community Center, which houses senior services in the city. Prior to the demolition, a new, $6 million Senior Center will be built next to Veterans Park on Balfour Road. The site was chosen by a consensus of senior groups from across the city, and several groups' leaders spoke to the council on Tuesday.
"The senior community is very excited about this center," said Audrey Formosa of the Brentwood Seniors Club. "We really appreciate being asked for our input on it. It's been a long time coming and is sorely needed." A dozen or so seniors in attendance applauded and cheered when the council voted to approve the plan.
Contra Costa County Librarian Anne Cain also addressed the council, supporting the library portion of the plan. Built when the city's population was 4,400, the library now serves a city of 50,000, with only four more places to sit than when it was built. The new location, across Oak Street from City Park, is 18,000 square feet, more than three times the present size.
Three structures envisioned in the plan will provide 578 parking spaces to downtown Brentwood: a 280-space parking structure at the Civic Center, a 125-space structure at Brentwood Boulevard and Chestnut Street (site of the former police station) and a 173-space structure at Brentwood Boulevard between Oak and Maple streets (which includes the current city parking lot behind La Costa restaurant).
Also included in the plan is construction of Summerset Park, a 10-acre facility along Fairview Avenue. Part of the plan for the construction of Summerset, the park's construction has lagged behind the housing for years, awaiting recently-completed road improvements.
The plan also includes a $1.5 million payment to the Brentwood Union Elementary School District for the already-built gymnasium at Adams Elementary School. Agreed to as part of a joint-use agreement with the district, the promise to pay enabled the construction of a larger facility in exchange for public access.
Superintendent Doug Adams thanked the council Tuesday for making the payment now, saying it will allow the final projects promised in the district's most recent bond measure campaign to begin construction this summer, despite skyrocketing construction costs.
The Civic Center plan was developed after years of public meetings held to determine what residents wanted in the plan, and financial planning has gone on even longer. Ehler said that the city has been saving money and reserving bonding capacity for the project for eight years, and has accumulated enough to accomplish the first $83 million of the project.
That portion includes all the RDA bonding, which means additional RDA work - specifically the Brentwood Boulevard corridor in north Brentwood - can be funded with the $30 million in RDA capacity expected to be available when that project begins to need funding (after Highway 4 is turned over to the city in the coming years). The plan forecasts growth in RDA bonding capacity will be between 5 and 10 percent per year; the actual growth over the last three years has been between 20 and 27 percent, Ehler said.
The remaining $25 million in funding for later-phase projects (demolishing the old library, restoring City Park and building the community center/arts building) will come primarily from CFDs established in the city since 2002. Keyed to new housing starts, the CFD bonds will be sold only when the money is needed and available, probably in 2012, Ehler said. If the housing market remains slow or slows further, the projects would be put on hold until the capacity to pay for them is achieved.
Prior to the council vote, Councilman Erick Stonebarger said he was excited about the plan, but promised to keep a close eye on its progress to make certain the city didn't begin something it might discover it can't pay for in the future. Ehler expressed confidence that the conservative planning that went into the project, and the ability to slow things down if need be, would prevent that.
Councilman Chris Becnel said the plan amounted to "putting our money where our mouths are" when it comes to maintaining a quality community. He added that "these are some big numbers," but "because of the quality of our staff I have no problem with (voting for) it."
Landeros said the next step could come as early as the next council meeting, when a contract for architectural services could be authorized. The coming weeks will also see the city's Capital Improvement Plan brought forward, with additional details on the project's financing.