With the economy improving and tax revenue picking up, the council's first project will be another phase of improvements to the city-owned Bernal Community Park, where $15 million lighted baseball fields and an adjoining children's play area were added, also in 2010. Now more will be spent on sports fields, some lighted, for soccer, lacrosse, junior football and, yes, more baseball diamonds. This time, the improvements, authorized as part of a voter referendum, will include a woodlands area, riparian habitat and landscaping along a meandering creek that runs through the site.
The project, when completed, will cost an estimated $15.8 million with part of the funding to come from a Bernal Community Park Reserve that the city government maintained during the recession when sales and property tax revenue tapered off. Another $810,000 would be available from a Capital Improvement Program reserve, also maintained by the city. City Manager Nelson Fialho said he expects to receive another $3.2 million from the East Bay Regional Park District through funds approved by voters when they passed the district's Measure W bond issue. That would still leave a funding gap of more than $5 million which could be raised through a combination of fee assessments for users of the sports fields, contributions from sports organizations, corporate sponsors and a community fundraiser similar to the one that raised more than $1 million for the Firehouse Arts Center.
Last year, the council approved a schematic plan for the second phase of the park which, 12 years after the land was given to the city by several developers in exchange for permits to build homes on the rest of the property, remains undeveloped except for the baseball fields.
Another costly project on the council's 22-page list of priorities is the redevelopment of senior living facilities at Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens with new buildings and more apartments. These aging, subsidized, affordable homes for qualified older residents will be torn down in phases over the next two years and replaced with larger, upgraded apartment buildings that will accommodate nearly twice as many who live there now. The redevelopment proposal goes back 10 years and gained ground last year as the economy improved. A predevelopment agreement has now been granted to Foster City-based Mid-Peninsula Housing, the developer, owner and manager of more than 90 senior communities.
MidPen, as the company is called, has been meeting with the Kottinger Place Redevelopment Task Force to determine project priorities. MidPen is now preparing a site plan for a new Kottinger Place development between Kottinger Drive and Vineyard Avenue, and including the aging Regalia House that will also be razed. Current development estimates for the two sites range from $59 million to $62.8 million with a city contribution from its senior housing fund of $8.2 million.
New housing on both sites will be largely single story units with far more kitchen, bathroom and closet space than the units now have and with upgrades in electricity and plumbing, including air conditioning. Some of the buildings on what is now the Kottinger Place site will be two stories in height with a few rising to three stories, with elevators. When completed, the apartments will accommodate 189 tenants.
Some projects are already under way, including renovations at the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center, which should be completed this summer, and the extension of Stoneridge Drive to El Charro Road, which should open late this fall. The city is expanding Stoneridge at its intersection with Santa Rita Road to handle expected increases in traffic, and Alameda County is funding the construction of two new bridges over the arroyo, which will be completed by October.
At its recent priority-setting workshop, the council heard requests for other capital projects, including construction of a new public library, a youth center, Cultural Arts center and for major improvements to the city-owned Pioneer Cemetery and Alviso Adobe Community Park. But those projects remain on the wish list for now. As much as funding restrictions have eased on the public purse strings, the council and City Manager Fialho also made it clear that tight fiscal controls will remain in place.