LIVE OAK -- Eighteen months of negotiations have resulted in a deal to build a multimillion-dollar Mid-County youth center, but it could be nearly two years before local children crash the doors.
Expected to be approved by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the agreement between the Boys & Girls Club, Live Oak School District and the county calls for a new $5 million building on the grounds of Shoreline Middle School. But officials are still looking far out on the horizon -- about two years -- for a grand opening.
"It hopefully will be built in 2014," said Patty Deming, assistant superintendent for the Live Oak School District, noting that the contract calls for it to be open by December of that year.
Bob Langseth, area director for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County, said the facility is desperately needed and predicted eventually it would draw more youths than the downtown Santa Cruz club.
"We look at the demographics. There are three elementary schools where you could walk from school and be at the facility in 15 to 20 minutes," Langseth said.
The project still must undergo an environmental review, as well as a review by the Department of State Architects. It also needs approvals from the state Coastal Commission and the county's own Planning Department.
Those approvals are likely to push construction off for another year. In addition, the school district and Boys & Girls Club now must come to a lease agreement for the project, and the club now must raise the $1.5 million needed to uphold its part of the bargain.
"Three agencies coming together like this for a building on school property is not the norm," Live Oak Superintendent Tamra Taylor said. "There really wasn't a template for us to use. For our county and our school district, this type of agreement is new."
Combining public facilities is a growing trend. New schools, libraries, community centers and even public safety facilities increasingly are being joined to save money and stretch taxpayer dollars.
"You have three organizations which aren't used to working with anybody else on construction projects," said Supervisor John Leopold, who represents Live Oak, explaining the delays. "It's an exciting project, but it's path-breaking for us and the other groups."
The project includes a computer and video editing room, dance and karate rooms, a music room and more. Parts of the building are expected to be available to rent to community groups as well, and the school district expects to reveal more details during a spring community meeting.
The county is funding the project with $5 million in former redevelopment funds. The Boys & Girls Club has approved the agreement, with the Live Oak School Board giving its consent last week.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin on Twitter at Twitter.com/scnewsdude