PIEDMONT -- The wish list is larger than the piggy bank, but Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee members took a tour Monday to scope out what projects in town need attention.

The committee members toured nine spots: the community hall; veterans hall; the aquatic center; Dracena Park; Blair Park and Coaches Field; Linda Beach field; Linda-Kingston triangle; Crocker Park; and Hampton Field. If all the improvements were done, the cost could range from $7 million to $9 million.

"Since we have only (about) $575,000 in Measure WW (park bond) funds to spend right now, we'll need to identify high-priority projects, or phases of projects that we can implement fairly quickly," said Councilmember Tim Rood, who served Monday as council liaison to the committee and took the tour.

The committee's recommendations, once defined, would go before the Parks Commission and Recreation Commission, then before the City Council for their determination.

Parks and Project Manager Mark Feldkamp detailed some of the projects. The veterans hall needs a new kitchen. Hampton Field with its tennis courts, baseball diamond and basketball courts needs an upgrade. The heavily used playfield at Linda Beach needs some improvements to its accessibility and the restroom. The aquatic center's restroom and shower rooms need refurbishing. The community center's pavement is cracked, the auto drop-off needs redesigning and a new upper and lower terrace could be built to increase space and appeal, Feldkamp said.


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"The community center is a moneymaker for the city. The project could be done in small pieces," Feldkamp said.

There is leftover capital improvement money in the budget other than Measure WW funds. And Feldkamp is optimistic that by the end of year, there could be an infusion of more capital improvement money in the budget.

"I'm an optimist," he said.

Measure WW funds are specifically earmarked for park improvements. A representative from the East Bay Regional Park District explained the constraints for the money to the CIP committee at its June 26 meeting.

"He told us what can and can't comply," Feldkamp said. "The key thing is the money has to be spent by December 2018. If a project needs CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review, it can take two to three years. Projects need to be simple, ready."

Former Councilmember Garrett Keating also made a presentation to the committee about a proposal to expand Coaches Field across from Blair Park and install parking at Blair Park. Blair Park was targeted a few years ago for a proposal by Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization to build a youth sports complex with private funds. The controversial multimillion-dollar plan was approved by the City Council, then scrapped by the PRFO and the city because of a lack of funds.

Friends of Moraga Canyon sued the city, citing numerous flaws to the plan. The lawsuit was later settled with the city reimbursing the group for some of their attorneys' fees and promising to allocate $15,000 for a landscape study at Blair Park.

Feldkamp and CIP committee member Ryan Gilbert said there are opportunities for public-private partnerships on projects, as Piedmonters have promoted in the past.

"We do look very hard at the best way to put these funds to use," Gilbert said. "It doesn't have to be just city money. The committee has been run in a welcoming way offering opportunities to participate.

"It's a win-win for everyone in town, where there is something for everyone."

Feldkamp cited several projects accomplished in town this past year, including public-private partnerships to build the Ramona-Ronada triangle and the lighting of the lantern at Lower Grand Avenue. Also, the new Dracena "storyteller" bridge was built with all private funds, spearheaded by Eagle Scout Cole Becker and his family.

Residents are encouraged to weigh in with their ideas.

"I encourage residents to review the list and identify any additional potential projects before the Aug. 6 CIP meeting," Rood said.

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