City Hall Confidential
Despite expectations that a long-term lease for the Chuck Corica Golf Complex would bring an infusion of private capital for long-needed upgrades, it turns out that unbeknownst to other city staff or the City Council, Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant had promised to float municipal bonds, backed by the city’s general fund, to cover the capital improvements at the courses.
As reported in our last column, the City Council planned to hold a closed-session meeting on Wednesday to discuss Kemper’s offers to lease the complex. But the discovery that Kemper would not be putting its own money into the deal caused the plans to screech to a halt.
While the deal is not dead, Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman said she canceled the meeting after she learned about the bond offer.
“I canceled the special City Council meeting on golf because I received new information last week indicating that the former interim city manager intended to float a city bond to do the capital expenditures at the golf complex,” Goldman told City Hall Confidential. “Staff is working to determine if there’s a financing structure available that’s consistent with tax laws and preserves the city’s general fund.”
“The city is not in a position to issue any bonds for the golf course,” she added.
When the request for proposals (RFP) was issued for operating the complex in 2009, the intent was to bring outside capital to the courses and clubhouse, Goldman confirmed. “The lessee shall be expected to perform major capital improvements to the golf courses, driving range, and clubhouse during the early years of the lease,” the RFP says.
As reported two weeks ago, the clubhouse renovations appear to have fallen off the list of improvements. Goldman said continuing declines in the golfing environment have led the upgrades to become financially infeasible.
Rumors have been coming in to The Island about plans to move the Alameda Animal Shelter out to Bay Farm Island, so we decided to dig into them a little. The issue is connected to development of the Northern Waterfront, which was fast-tracked last fall by Interim City Manager Gallant. The move was part of her plan to have the city enter into a negotiating agreement with Warmington Homes to develop housing in the north side neighborhood as envisioned in the city’s general plan.
The council put the brakes on the project in early December, but the city is still seeking consultants to study where to move both the shelter and the city’s corp yard, Public Works Director Matt Naclerio said. Naclerio said that no matter how the city chooses to proceed with the project, the shelter and corp yard will need to be relocated to accommodate new development.
For the animal shelter, the city’s request for proposals recommends looking at the Bill Osborne Flying Field – the model airplane field next to Mount Trashmore on Bay Farm Island – with the flying field possibly moving to the former maintenance yard at the golf complex, by Maitland and Island drives. The RFP also asks the consultants to look at properties that are not under city control, including the vacant property at the corner of Fernside Boulevard and Tilden Way; the school district’s old Island High site on Eagle Avenue would also likely be studied, according to sources.
The corp yard relocation has been wrapped into plans for a larger Public Works department center, with all maintenance yards, as well as the staff for engineering, transportation and maintenance, housed in a single location. Multiple staffers suggested that Alameda Point is the only realistic location for such a configuration, which requires a lot of land because of the maintenance facilities. The consolidation plan is the third such plan in 12 years and replaces the idea of bringing the Public Works staff back to the Civic Center, which was proposed three years ago, but got bogged down in the discussion over how to reuse the Carnegie Building.
City staff is currently negotiating contract terms with the RFP respondents and hopes to bring contracts to the council in March.
About a year ago, the city purchased a new phone system which allowed for better accounting of who staff was talking with. One former department head recently related that she had received calls on several occasions from the interim city manager’s office asking about specific calls that she had received, including calls from council members and community members, myself included.
Apparently, folks on the third floor were monitoring not only the phone calls, but the e-mails of city staffers, and on numerous occasions they reached out and questioned what the calls were regarding, or why they had received e-mails from certain people. Several city staffers said that over the past year, they developed systems to avoid these uncomfortable interactions, including not answering calls from certain people and returning the messages using their home phones or via non-city issued mobile phones which at least one staffer said they purchased to keep their conversations private.