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THS stadium, Carnegie make RDA budget

POSTED June 27, 2009 5:59 p.m.
The 2009-2010 Turlock Redevelopment Agency budget adopted late Tuesday evening looks to send $27.8 million of funding around the city to projects such as the Carnegie Arts Center, a Columbia Park water feature, and a proposed overhaul of Turlock High School’s Joe Debely Stadium.
The $2.8 million of funding earmarked for the Joe Debely project could be the most controversial of the council’s decisions Tuesday evening. Formal discussions between the Turlock Unified School District and the City of Turlock about the renovation have yet to occur.
“I think this is a good project,” Vice Mayor Ted Howze said. “I would ask that this body include this project in the budget to at least placeholder the funds to pass it on to the school district for consideration.”
TUSD would be required to relinquish control of the stadium to the city in order for redevelopment money to be used. Additionally, the city must expand the current RDA boundaries in order to spend money on the stadium, which is outside the allowed area in which RDA money may be spent.
According to the City of Turlock Web site, “The Turlock Redevelopment Agency was established to assist in eliminating blight from specific designated areas of the city by redeveloping, reconstructing and rehabilitating.”
The redevelopment money could go toward installing artificial turf on the field and refurbishing the track. As the district would only enter into formal discussions with the city after funding was offered, Turlock remains unsure if TUSD is interested in such a refurbishment.
The Carnegie Arts Center was allocated $4 million in RDA tax increment funding on Tuesday evening, but that funding is contingent upon the drafting of a workable operation and maintenance plan.
“What we’ve lacked here is an ability to come to a workable business plan,” Councilwoman Amy Bublak said. “That’s our last stumbling block here.”
Bublak went on to state that such a plan was required of Turlock’s BMX Bike Park before approval, and that the Carnegie is a project on a much grander scale.
Different councilmembers had different interpretations on what a workable business plan for the Carnegie could entail, ranging from Howze’s vision that no wedding receptions or similar private events should be held at the Carnegie to Councilwoman Mary Jackson’s request that $600,000 raised by the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation be used as an endowment for a nonprofit operator.
Also on the RDA budget for next year is a Columbia Park water feature, similar to the spray park in Broadway Park. The water park will be paid for with $200,000 of RDA money and $200,000 of Community Development Block Grant funding.
A plan to construct a new downtown parking lot received $2 million in RDA funding.
At least $365,000 would be spent to build a 33-space lot. That cost does not include an additional $140,000 to $280,000 in demolition costs, as well as the expense of purchasing four buildings, two of which are listed for sale at $1.2 million.
The parking lot will likely require further funding before it is completed.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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