The City Council Tuesday night approved by a vote of 4-1 a master plan for a 17-acre community park in Staples Ranch with 10 acres to be set aside for a proposed two-story ice rink.
Staples Ranch is a 124 acre site at the southwest corner of I-580 and El Charro Road that is unincorporated and owned by Alameda County.
Besides the new park and ice rink other developments planned for Staples Ranch are:
• An auto mall at the northeast corner of the site at the I-580-El Charro Road interchange planned by Hendrick Automotive;
• A 600-unit independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care facility for seniors, planned by CLC Continuum, a Southern California-based senior care organization;
• A retail store complex between the park and the auto mall, to be developed by Fremont Land developers.
The ice rink is being proposed by San Jose Arena Management Company, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks hockey team. The Sharks group has asked the city for approval of its plan to finance and operate a 116,000-square-foot facility on 7 acres of the 17-acre site, with the rest of the 10 acres to be used for paved and grass-filled overflow parking areas. It would lease the land for $1 a year for 30 years and would build and operate operated the facility at no cost to the city.
The Parks and Recreation Commission earlier recommended that the council approve the park plan, including the ice rink. A required Environmental Impact Report for the entire site has also been completed and accepted.
Tuesday night's action moves both the community park and the other proposed Staples Ranch developments forward, with development plans in place for more intense and specific reviews by the Planning Commission and again by the council.
More than 50 attended the special council meeting, with only one of 22 speakers expressing opposition to the ice rink.
Also opposed was Councilman Matt Sullivan who said the ice rink should be moved closer to the Fremont Land retail development if it's built at all. He said that although there was only one speaker in opposition to the plan at the council's public hearing, he has walked the neighborhoods near Staples Ranch where he found many opposed.
"I know there's a lot of support for the Sharks in this town and regionally, but I also know there's a lot of concern," Sullivan said. "A lot of those people didn't show up tonight, but I have met them in their neighborhood. They feel this was supposed to be the neighborhood park they've been anticipating and looking forward to."
"I don't think we have a win-win situation as one speaker said," he added. "We may be making the Sharks happy and the business folks happy, but we have a neighborhood out there that won't be happy."
But Sullivan had no support from others on the council who praised the plan developed by Nelson Fialho, city manager, Jim Wolfe, director of parks and community services, and the RRM Design Group, a landscape architectural firm located in San Luis Obispo.
"I think the extended process of considering this plan has been inclusive and in the best interests of the community," said Councilman Jerry Thorne. "I like this proposed plan and don't want to move the ice facility. This plan looks like the best use of this property."
Commenting on criticisms that the Sharks ice rink would attract skaters from outside Pleasanton, Thorne added:
"I've heard about this being a regional facility in a negative way. My hope is that it will be regional. I'd like to see some of our neighbors spending their money here at hotels and wherever. I don't want to build a wall around Pleasanton. I know I use facilities in other communities for movies and other things, and will be glad to see others come to Pleasanton."
Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio agreed.
"I also like the idea of a public-private partnership and see this as a unique opportunity for Pleasanton," she said. "It will give us a chance to have high school hockey teams."
Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said the proposed park will offer many amenities that will appeal to many in the community in addition to the ice rink.
Support also came from Pleasanton organizations. Amy Blaschka, executive director of the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitor's Bureau, said the proposed ice rink would attract visitors and teams from outside the area that, her analysis showed, would provide 990 booked hotel rooms annually for $4 million in revenue.
Businessman Brad Hirst said the Sharks facility would actually help reduce carbon footprints by providing a place in the Tri-Valley for hockey players who must now travel to San Jose or Oakland for tournament play and games.
Don Gralnek, executive vice president of San Jose Arena Management, said he expects the ice rink would appeal to young and old, and also serve those with handicaps in a relaxing facility that would cater to all skill levels and skating interests.
The ice arena would feature four ice rinks on the ground floor, skate rental services, 16 lockers rooms, a weight room, bleacher seating and a small area for parties. The second floor would house ticket offices, a gift and pro shop, food and refreshment concessions, a restaurant with a bar, another party area, a small game room and offices for management and operations personnel.