On Sept. 29, the Community Services District (CSD) entered into a 90-day concurrent escrow with the Delta Community Presbyterian Church to purchase the Discovery Bay Athletic Club on Discovery Bay Boulevard. The 10-plus-acre lot will be divided into two parcels – seven-plus acres and the building to be purchased by the town – the remaining three vacant acres to be bought by the church for its school and sanctuary expansion. The total purchase price is $1.2 million. The Town’s portion is expected to be around $850,000.
“The main thing that is of significance from our point of view,” said Pastor Bill McGuinness, “is that we are a very healthy but small and physically constrained church, and our ability to grow where we are is severely limited. So we see this as a one-time opportunity. There is a lot of enthusiasm for it … We always want to be good neighbors and so does the town, so this is a win-win for everyone.”
“This is an amenity that this community has been asking for for over 20 years, and we are happy to finally say we’re on our way,” said Discovery Bay General Manager Rick Howard. “It was also a good opportunity for these two different community entities to come together.”
Currently owned by the Pilati family, the athletic club was the priority pick for members of the CSD Community Center Committee – comprising board members and local residents – tasked in 2011 with providing recommendations to the CSD board regarding possible sites, funding options and amenities based in part on the results of a community center public survey.
“We’re very excited about this,” said CSD President and Community Center Committeeman Chris Steele. “It’s a good central location, and I think it will tie a lot of different groups together. I know from the board’s perspective it’s been a long time coming.”
A very long time. The initial search for a community center site began in the 1990s, when Discovery Bay’s original developer, the Hofmann Company, was required to set aside property for the town’s community center and contribute 50 percent (approximately $875,000) to the total cost of the project. Hofmann originally allocated dollars for a two-acre site on Newport Road, but the CSD has long rejected the property for its secluded location, advocating instead traffic-friendly sites along Discovery Bay Boulevard. The original agreement stipulates that Hofmann will not release funds for the center until/unless an alternative agreement is reached.
However, now that the town has purchased a site without Hofmann approval, the monies are not available – yet.
“Part of their (Hofmann) conditions of approval for the community center stated that if an alternative site is identified, then it must be agreed upon by all the parties involved,” said Howard. “We have met with Hofmann and they have indicated that they would not oppose the athletic club as an alternative site.”
The Town currently has $525,000 in its community center fund, but will most likely put only a portion of those dollars toward the purchase, using additional funds from the town’s $4 million reserve to make up the difference. Funds from the Hofmann contribution will eventually be used for the actual construction of the estimated 15,000-square-foot facility and ensuing price tag of between $4 and $6 million. Ongoing funding costs for upkeep and maintenance have not yet been determined, but it’s possible the Town might consider a local assessment bond.
“The big challenge is ongoing funding,” said Steele. “And it’s likely we might be looking at a bond of some kind.”
Once built, local officials believe the center will serve as a cornerstone of the community, offering a variety of programs for youth and seniors. Preliminary plans include meeting rooms, a commercial kitchen, special-event facilities and athletic amenities such as a swimming pool plus tennis, basketball and bocce ball courts. Although the athletic center currently features many of those items, the aging facility will most likely be razed to make way for a larger, more modern, community-centered venue.
But before blueprints are drawn and sticks stuck in the ground – an estimated minimum three-year project – there is much to be done.
“For all these components to happen, we have to first have a funding source in place to operate the community center,” said Howard. “So first things first. Right now we’re purchasing the land and doing some preliminary design work before we bring it to the public to ask them for their support.”