Dec 19 2011

Use and Operations Plan for Blair Park

City Administrator Responds to Questions on Future of the Sports Field –

The following inquiry was sent recently by Piedmont resident Tom Clark to City Administrator Geoff Grote.  Clark’s questions and Grote’s answers are printed below.

Dear Mr. Grote,

I am generally supportive of additional recreational facilities in Piedmont, including the proposed Blair Park. However, I am having difficulty getting factual information, except for many of the issues relating to physical design, potential environmental impacts and financial responsibilities relating to the EIR public review and Council approval process (including potential litigation following approval).

For example, I have heard one City resident claim to me that the use of the proposed park would be limited to the Jack London Youth Soccer Sports League (whatever that is) and, while that seems unreasonable, I was a little surprised to find nothing during my quick search of the web, except beyond the most general and vague statements by proponents, regarding any overarching long-term guiding structure of governance for the complete proposal and the specific uses, groups and persons for which and for whom the park is contemplated.

At least the one candidate for Council I queried indicated lack of information regarding the information (see below) that I am seeking. I think that such a clear and documented structure, or the lack of such a structure, is essential for the Council when considering whether to approve the development of the proposed park and for residents, such as me, rationally to respond to the proposal and decide whether to support or oppose the election of Council candidates.

Can you give me information on, or can you give me specifics (website, name, phone number, etc.) on where or from whom I can find, the “big picture” — e.g., under the Blair Park proposal.

Tom Clark

Questions and Answers on Blair Park Sports Field Structure and Operation Responded to by City Administrator Geoff Grote

1.  Would the City continue to own the property?

Grote: Yes, the City would continue to own the property.

2. Would the City lease the property to, or enter into some sort of management agreement with, a third party (and if so, specifically what third or type of third party and under what type of terms and conditions)?

Grote: Yes, the City would lease the property to Blair Park LLC for the time it takes to construct the Sports Field and other improvements. Upon completion of the construction, the lease terminates and the city comes back into possession of the property. The document which sets forth the specifics is the “Site Lease” which is on the City Website. The Site Lease has not been approved by the City Council, and will be heard in January.

3.Who would manage the park?

Grote: The operation of the park and all management, once open, is the responsibility of the City.

 4.Who would repair and maintain the park?

Grote:  Repair and maintenance would be the responsibility of the City.

5.What will be the financial responsibilities of the City and any third parties for management, repair and maintenance, and in what agreements among what parties will those responsibilities be included?

Grote: Upon completion of construction, the City will have all financial responsibility for management, repair, and maintenance of the park, once open.

6. What rules and regulations (at least in general terms at this point) would apply as to (a) who (general public, Piedmont public, private clubs, school groups, etc.) could use the park, (b) what (if any) preferences would be given (and the rationale for the preferences) to certain types of uses and users (such as soccer groups or specific soccer groups such as the Jack London Youth Soccer Sports League), (c) What agency would promulgate, amend, etc. such rules and regulations, and (d) and what general proposal now exists regarding who may use the park and under what terms, conditions and regulations?

Grote: Rules and regulations would be established by the City Recreation department and Recreation Commission. The ultimate authority over the park operations, hours of use, expenditures of money etc. is the City Council (although they don’t usually get into the day to day details ).  No private group has any legal right to preference. While there are several concepts for funding operations and repair of the facility which have been discussed, I think that the one which is most likely to be approved is that the Sports groups (Soccer, Baseball-Softball, La Crosse, and Rugby) will be charged an hourly fee for use.

In the staff report, available online, the Rec. Director estimates that approximately 1000 hours will be available for hourly fee use in a typical year. The hourly rate charged will be based on the estimated costs for operation, maintenance, and artificial turf replacement. These estimates are set forth in the staff report. (There is some disagreement over how much replacement of the artificial turf will cost, and therefore how much needs to be set aside each year). In any case, the amount of the fee would be set by the City Council as part of it’s annual budget process. With regard to a general proposal on hours of use, and rules; the assumption is that they would be similar to those in effect at Coaches Playfield which has been in operation for many years now.

Again, sorry that my response was not more prompt, but I hope that the above gives some insight on the questions that you raise. For more detail, the Conditions of approval, the Site-Lease, and the other documents are on the City Website.

Geoff Grote, Piedmont City Administrator



2 Responses to “Use and Operations Plan for Blair Park”

  1. taxpayer foots costs for School Bonds, sewer tax & Blair Park + the undergrounding utility debacle. Where does it end? Does anyone understand we are in a prolonged recession? How abt. some common sense, why is the City run like it is 2007?

  2. “…the Jack London Youth Soccer Sports League (whatever that is)”

    What it is – is a youth (ages 5-19) soccer league with about 7000 players, over 1000 of whom live in Piedmont. Most of the others live in Oakland and Alameda.

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