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Boys and Girls Club to request $2 million in park funds

Submitted by on 1, September 1, 2009 – 6:00 am8 Comments

buildingThe Boys and Girls Club of Alameda is asking the City Council for $2 million in regional park bond money to help the club build its new facility. The city had planned to use the money for a host of other park improvement projects.

The club’s leaders had hoped to start work on their new facility in May (they’ve already done the official groundbreaking). But they’ve had trouble securing the rest of the money they need to build it. (The club’s current estimate to build the facility is $8.2 million; their fundraising campaign lists a goal of $10 million.)

“This is the last piece in our financing. If this is approved, we will start building the club right away,” the club’s executive director, George Phillips, said. He said that if the city gives its okay, construction could start in two to three weeks.

Without the money, the club could lose some or all of the $3.3 million in grants it has secured to help build its new, 25,000-square-foot facility, which will site on the site of the old Woodstock Elementary School at 1900 Third Street. The club has pulled in about $1.5 million in cash and another $562,017 in pledges, and they anticipate getting another $750,000 in grant money and $600,000 in donations to help pay the expected $8.2 million cost of the new facility.

The club left its old Lincoln Avenue location four years ago after its leaders determined it made more sense to build a new facility than to spend the $2 million it would have cost to seismically retrofit the old one. It has since operated in a limited fashion at Chipman Middle School and in the Esperanza public housing complex.

The city had developed a list of projects to spend the bond money on, including renovation of recreation buildings in Littlejohn, Woodstock and Krusi parks and resurfacing tennis and basketball courts in Washington Park. But they have not yet applied to the East Bay Regional Park District for the funds, this council referral report says.

Phillips said he talked to the parks district and they told him the club project could qualify for bond funding.

“I think the Boys and Girls Club recreation center is a unique opportunity for the city to leverage funds for a much needed ‘shovel ready’ project,” said Councilwoman Lena Tam, who referred the item for the council’s agenda. “All the prior allocations of park bond funds were for facilities on the East End of town, and we need high-quality community facilities on the West End.”

Tam’s referral said the the new club would offer $30 million in services over the life of the new building. The club is to include a gymnasium, teen center, game room, computer lab and space for a long list of activities to serve an estimated 3,400 youths a year.


  • Jack B. says:

    Park $$ to a private club? Am I understanding this correctly?

  • Richard Bangert says:

    "Park $$ to a private club" is not a fair characterization. I read the council packet, and I think it would be more accurate say "private dollars and park dollars to fund public community center." The list of activities that they propose to offer to the community, not just boys and girls who join the club, runs the gamut from children's activities to seniors. There is also a provision that allows community groups to use the 300-capacity meeting room. The letter from the park district suggests having a Joint Use Agreement with the city.

    So, it doesn't appear to be a giveaway for exclusive use by a small group. It sounds like a great benefit for the whole community, especially the West End. Yes, it enhances the reputation of a private club, but so what? It's not like we would be giving the money to 24-hour Fitness.

    On the matter of priorities, besides the question of giving more priority to the new Boys and Girls Club than to renovation work on existing city facilities, there is also the question of the Beltline park that has been "in the works" for a longer time than the new Boys and Girls Club. A good compromise, if the city council sees fit to give the Boys and Girls Club the $2 million, would be at the same time to direct the city staff to apply to the park district for additional money to develop the Beltline park. Measure WW has $125 million that is to be handed out through a grant program to cities and government agencies. I could be wrong, but I don't think they've run through all that money yet.

    If there was ever a city park project that is deserving of a booster shot of development money it's the Beltline property. The money to buy it already set aside by the city.

  • Lorre says:

    Richard, the materials that I saw for the EBRPD bond issue laid out how much would be made available to each city for its facilities.

  • Sarah says:

    EBRPD's Measure WW allocates funds to Cities based on its population. The City of Alameda is eligible to apply for up to $3.4 M in park bond funds.

  • Richard Bangert says:

    I stand corrected. All of the $125 million grant money has been allocated to various cities, unincorporated areas and so forth.

    This leaves a difficult choice on how to spend Alameda's allocation of $3.4 million in grant money. (This is separate from items #1 and #18 on the Measure WW Project list that respectively earmark $6.5 million for Alameda Point and $6.5 million to Crab Cove.)

    I would say that if we are going to decide on how to spend a $2 million chunk of money, then the decision should be between the Boys and Girls Club building project and the Beltline property. Although the arguments for leveraging money for a community center on the West End are compelling, the Club also has a broad network of support from which to raise more money. In the article above it says "the club could lose some or all of the $3.3 million in grants it has secured." It doesn't say it WILL lose the money.

    I think the prospects for the Boys and Girls Club to find another $2 million are a lot brighter than the prospects for finding money to develop the Beltline into a greenbelt park. Once the park district money is spent, that's it on the WW money, whereas the Boys and Girls Club has a network to continue raising money from. And if you want to consider leveraging in the equation, well, Alameda will be paying $1 million for the unique Beltline parcel of land that now has a market value of what, $20 million?

    • Hey all,

      On the Beltline property: If I'm not mistaken, I seem to recall that the city has a separate pot of money to pay for that land? (Though I understand developing/maintaining it is another matter.)

      My sort of abbreviated understanding of the Measure WW process is that each city has a specific allocation ($3.4 million to us) and that they have to apply to the East Bay park district with projects they want those dollars to cover. The city has identified projects it would like to spend at the money on, with the three rec center rehabs and the Washington Park tennis and basketball court upgrades I mentioned at the top of the list. But they have not yet applied for the funds.

      The Boys and Girls Club has been working for the last few years to try to pull together the funds to build their new facility on the old Woodstock School property, which the school district is leasing to them for $1 a year. But they have had at least one major funding commitment fall through and have not yet been able to raise the money they need to cover that and whatever else they need. So they are asking the city to consider passing them $2 million of the WW money to allow them to move forward on their new facility (which the parks folks said could be covered under the WW rules). The council will have to decide whether to do that, knowing that it would mean they wouldn't be able to make all the upgrades on their priority list.

      The council is set to discuss it tonight. (And you can check here for the update Wednesday.)

  • Jill says:

    I was very surprised to read that someone thinks the East End doesn't need any park money. The facility at Lincoln Park is ancient; the heat is erratic, the blinds are all broken, the bathrooms are disgusting. The tennis court (singular) is unusable due to the massive cracks. The cool drinking fountain has been broken for years. The trees are dying off and not being replaced. The park is very well used on weekends, because it is one of only two parks we have in the area (the other one is Krusi, which is way over on the Otis side). I suspect that many more people would benefit from improvements in the East End's park system than would benefit from the Boy's and Girl's Club.

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