music in the park san jose

Instead of advising the City Council to move ahead with a
public/private partnership that would help operate an outdoor
recreation center,
Instead of advising the City Council to move ahead with a public/private partnership that would help operate an outdoor recreation center, city recreation staff has recommended holding off for a while.

The Coliseum Recreation Group proposed sharing land with the city’s future ball field complex to be built on Condit Road with the Coliseum’s indoor recreation center helping to pay for some maintenance and operation costs.

The city looked first looked at a public/private partnership possibility after local sports groups balked at the amount they would have to pay to rent sports fields – $11.30 per hour – in order to cover the cost of maintenance and operations.

City Manager Ed Tewes said he wants three questions answered first:

“How does the Coliseum’s indoor center make the city’s outdoor center work better?” Tewes said. “Secondly, how does city participation in a commercial recreational facility affect the city’s indoor recreation center on Edmundson and, thirdly, is a good real estate deal?

Because of these three questions, Tewes said he does not believe it is appropriate to eliminate other options.

“We’d prefer this option,” he said. “Our job is simply making it work but there are too many unanswered questions.”

Coliseum was the only group that answered the city’s request for proposals and, before now, it looked as if partnership discussions were going smoothly. The next step would normally be for the city to enter into an Exclusive Right to Negotiate (ERN) with the Coliseum Group. An ERN sets a short time during which precise business terms would be agreed on and binding contracts drafted.

However, it is this ERN that city staff suggests that the council delay.

The OSC is to be built on the soccer complex grounds on Condit Road, next to the Aquatics Center. The soccer complex will be moved by a separate regional soccer group to another site, possibly not until June 2006 or later, if council approves such a date Wednesday.

The OSC master plan, presented to council in December 2004, estimated a total cost of $10.7 million, with phase one costing $2.5 million – about $100,000 more than is reserved for the purpose in the city’s capital improvement budget. No money at all is available for maintenance or operations.

Phase one would include a minimum of field improvements; financial deficits could be eased by contributions from local youth groups that will use the fields. About $266,000 would be needed from these sources. The remaining $100,000 could come from Redevelopment Agency funds.

The need for extra funds forced the city to explore the idea of partnering.

To allow the city build a larger outdoor rec center earlier, The Coliseum Group proposed a partnership in which the group builds an 86,000 to 100,000-square-foot building on 2.5 acres dedicated to volleyball, indoor soccer and lacrosse multi-use fields, basketball and volleyball courts, a fitness and weight training component, a sports bar/restaurant, a juice and coffee bar, a sportswear and equipment shop and even a rock climbing wall and skate park in the future.

The group promises not to compete with the city’s indoor rec center. While the city’s facility will target family fitness, the Coliseum will target the competitive sports fitness client. Still, the staff wants more details.

The Edmundson facility is also hampered in cost recovery by the addition of senior and youth centers that will take expensive upkeep, offer little financial payback and take up space that could be used for paying fitness customers, according to city staff.

Doug Payne, Coliseum president, said city staff’s recommendation was not unexpected.

“If I put myself in the staff’s position with their focus to achieve full cost recovery on the indoor recreation center, I’m not overly surprised,” Payne said.

But he has not lost hope that the council will accept his ideas. Payne met Monday morning with Tewes.

“We’ve taken thousands of surveys from our booths at Mushroom Mardi Gras, the Taste of Morgan Hill and other events and the community says they want this plan and they want it on Condit Road,” Payne said. “We have made a business plan to take us there.”

Council previously passed up a chance for a somewhat similar arrangement with the YMCA over running the city’s own indoor recreation center to be built on West Edmundson next to Community Park.

A groundbreaking party complete with a free throw contest between the council and the city manager is set for 5:30pm May 31 at the indoor rec center site.

Other details indicating staff reluctance about the proposal include not allowing youth sports groups to run their own concession stands – a lucrative revenue raising activity and who pays infrastructure costs.

The private building would reduce the area of public fields, though shared income from the building would reduce the field rental rate to $7 per hour.

The Coliseum proposal suggested that only 20 to 30 percent of the 300,000 people to use the facility would be from Morgan Hill.

“The purpose of the OSC is for community benefit,” the report said. And it predicted that there would not be enough parking for Morgan Hill residents if so many outsiders used the facility.

The council agenda is available at City Hall and on line. City Council meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in City Hall Chambers, 17555 Peak Ave. Details: www.morganhill.ca.gov or 779-7271. Meetings are broadcast live on cable access channel 17. The public is invited to speak at all council meetings.

Carol Holzgrafe covers City Hall for The Times. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or phoning (408) 779-4106 Ext. 201.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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