The City Council has approved a draft master plan for a new Pleasanton Civic Center complex in Bernal Community Park which could go on the ballot in November 2018 for voter approval.
The proposed complex would include a new city hall, library, police headquarters and a community center on a 27-acre site between Bernal and Valley avenues and backing onto the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
The current 10-acre site bordered by Main Street and Old Bernal and Bernal avenues would be redeveloped in accordance with the the recommendations of a Downtown Specific Plan. A task force has been established to consider that plan, with an expected completion date late next year.
Although no cost estimates have been made nor funding sources identified for building the new complex, it's cost is estimated at up to $200 million.
"We don't know what we're going to do yet,"Mayor Jerry Thorne said. "That decision is at least 18 months out with a number of commission and committee meetings needed to review proposals first.
The council's action in a 4-0 vote approved a draft master plan developed by a Civic Center/Library task force. The group was formed in February 2015 to consider municipal office and operational needs.
The Pleasanton City Hall, it noted, is now the oldest of the 13 cities in Alameda County. The public library, built as a county branch library, is overcrowded in a glass and brick structure that won't allow a second floor. Some of the buildings on the current city site are temporary structures that the city likely would have ordered removed if they were privately owned.
The primary issues raised and addressed during the task force deliberations included site selection for upgrading or rebuilding civic center and city hall buildings and parking. During after-school hours, patrons find it difficult to park at the current library and parking is especially tight during City Council and other community meetings at the current Civic Center.
The task force is proposing 250 additional spaces at the Bernal park site along with a two-to-three-story parking garage. The police department would have its own dedicated parking area.
The new complex also would allow city functions to operate more smoothly, proponents said, with all major departments and operations under one roof. Because of multiple buildings in the current city complex, departments and the services they offer are not connected.
A highlight of the proposed new complex is the addition of a 25,000 square foot community center adjacent to the new library. It would have a number of different-size meeting rooms, some small enough to serve two or three people in a study mode and others larger for community meetings. At least one room would be large enough to hold bar bar and bat mitzvahs, wedding receptions and other public events.
The new library would have 70,000 square feet of floor space, up from 30,180 square feet now. Police headquarters wold occupy a 35,000 square foot building, compared to 21,130 square feet not. Only City Hall would be downsized, becoming a 40,000 square foot building compared to 45,550 now.
Brian Dolan, assistant city manager, said that while all of the committees and commissions briefed by the task force agreed with the plan to relocate city operations to Bernal Park, a few individuals favored keeping City Hall closer to downtown, where it is now. The Civic Arts Commission expressed disappointment that a performing arts center once planned for Bernal Community Park was being axed and asked that funds be appropriated to upgrade the Amador Theater on the grounds of Amador Valley High School
Only one speaker criticized the plan. Julie Testa, a candidate for mayor in the Nov. 8 election, said the suggested architecture of the new city and library buildings "is too stark, too modern, almost industrial."
She said the original vision for Bernal Community Park did not include a civic center or police station.
"It was supposed to have only civic-oriented facilities," she added.