March Pleasant Hill Mayor' Message
Mar 03, 2016 09:34AM
● By Sue Noack
By Sue Noack, Pleasant Hill Mayor
A number of Pleasant Hill residents recently signed a petition addressed to the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District in support of the District’s efforts to negotiate with Contra Costa County to purchase the 10-acre site on Oak Park Blvd., known as the Oak Park Elementary School site. A copy of the petition was provided to the Pleasant Hill City Council, along with a letter from concerned residents requesting the City Council support the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District in purchasing the land to be used for a library, playing fields, and detention basin. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my response to that letter.
Dear Community Members,
I am writing to thank you for your letter, dated January 14, 2016, in reference to the 10-acre site known as the former Oak Park Elementary School site on Oak Park Blvd., owned by Contra Costa County. I appreciate all of your efforts in garnering community support among residents regarding the future development and use of the site.
There are a number of issues pertaining to potential uses of the 10-acre site that I would like to bring to your attention. First, in reference to the possible use of the site as a flood detention basin, two major feasibility studies were completed by the Contra Costa County Flood Control District in consultation with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Pleasant Hill. The studies, completed in 1993 and 2013, concluded that a large regional flood protection system, such as a detention basin, would be extremely costly and would not qualify for any federal funding because the costs outweighed the benefits. The 2013 study estimated the cost to construct a basin on this site would be between $17.3m to $31.0m, depending on the scope of the project.
In regard to the possible use of the site for ballfields, it is my understanding that the Recreation & Park District plans are in the very early stages and limited information has been received regarding the intended usage and estimated costs. It is my understanding that in addition to ballfields, the project may need to include infrastructure improvements.
That said, I am hoping that the city and the district can work together to achieve the most desirable outcome for both agencies and the greater Pleasant Hill community. At this time, the city’s focus, in partnership with the Library Task Force, is on finding a funding mechanism to build a new community library. Members of the city council, recreation district, county, and Mount Diablo Unified School District participate on the task force. In addition, city staff has been working with county staff over the past 20 months to find a way to replace the current library with a state-of-the-art facility that will serve our community for the next 50 years.
County staff and its consultants have been regular attendees at the Library Task Force meetings and have provided regular updates on the work done in relation to the disposition of county owned properties, including the 10-acre site, the current library site, and another property off of Beatrice Road. The county has hired consultants to determine what development would be appropriate for the 10-acre site. Permits for any development on this site will be needed from the city, and public hearings will be required before consideration.
I believe the county has made it clear that it wishes to receive fair market value for the sale of all three properties. I understand that there is not an agreement as to that value between the county and the recreation district. The city is not a party to the negotiations, so I am unable to comment on that subject at this time.
It is possible that some type of joint project, involving ballfields and a new library, could be realized on the 10-acre site. However, there are many unanswered questions at this point regarding such a proposal, not least of which is how to finance it.
The City of Pleasant Hill will continue our discussions with both the recreation district and the county, and I will do my best to keep you informed. Thank you again for interest in this matter, and I look forward to working with you and other concerned residents on this issue as we move forward.