City Staff Says Constructing Replacement Park On 55th Way (for lost Scherer Park land) Now Costing $2.5 Million More Than Originally Estimated (Nearly Double); City Hall Is Exploring Alternatives To Reduce New Park's Construction Costs; Budget Issues Not Expected To Impact Construction Timeline, Staff SaysReturn To Front Page
(Sept. 30, 2004) -- A memo by senior City Hall management indicates the cost of constructing a new park on 55th Way (to replace on a two-for-one basis park land taken for a police facility in Scherer Park) has nearly doubled from original estimates, leaving a funding gap of roughly $2.5 million that's prompted meetings among city staff to explore alternatives for reducing the construction cost of the new park.
"Budget issues are not expected to impact the construction timeline for the park," says a Sept. 27 memo from Community Development Director Melanie Fallon for City Manager Jerry Miller for 8th and 9th district Councilmembers Rae Gabelich and Val Lerch, updating the 55th Way park project. Community Development staff provided LBReport.com with a copy of the memo on request.
Previous City Hall management said General Fund money would pay for both projects, but current city management said budget constraints required tapping $12.1 million in North Redevelopment Project Area money to fund the police facility and replacement park...and that's apparently not enough.
The memo states in pertinent part:
Due to building industry cost increases as well as unanticipated mitigation measures resulting from the EIR process, including wall heights and material composition, the preliminary pricing was estimated at approximately $5.5 million. Of the overall $12.1 million funding for the park and North Police Station, $3 million was allocated for the park. As a result, there is a significant budget shortfall. To address the shortfall, PW [Public Works] and CD [Community Development] commenced and continue to have weekly meetings to explore alternatives for reducing the cost of construction as appropriate.
With all appropriate cost reductions identified, staff has preliminarily identified the necessary money to fully fund construction of the park. Budget issues are not expected to impact the construction timeline for the park. Construction drawings are in process and will be prepared for public bid for an anticipated construction start date during the first quarter of 2005.
The memo also addresses the issue of an inquiry by the CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation over City Hall beginning initial LBPD operations at the Scherer Park police facility while the 55th Way replacement park isn't near completion.
News that the Scherer Park LBPD police facility had begun initial operations was first reported by LBReport.com...which also reported on the inquiry from the state agency (which enforces federal rules for replacing park land when a city takes federal tax money for park improvements.).
Since April 24, City staff has been working with State Parks staff to come to agreement on the time frame for implementation of the replacement park. Staff's position is that the City and the Agency have made a firm commitment to the construction of the replacement park at 55th Way, as evidenced by site acquisition by the Agency, funding of the initial $3 million for site improvements, and by undertaking the extensive landfill closure process. The process of conducting site investigations, receiving approval from five regulatory agencies on the landfill closure plan, and working extensively with the community to design a site plan that will meet neighborhood needs took considerably more time than originally anticipated. This does not, however, in any way erode the City's overall commitment to this project.
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