After years of planning, San Bruno officials set the stage for construction of a new recreation center that will be built mostly with money paid by PG&E after the Crestmoor gas pipeline explosion.
The San Bruno City Council unanimously approved a plan to spend $60 million on development of a new recreation and aquatic center at the site of the existing facility during a meeting Tuesday, June 8.
While officials expressed their enthusiasm to spend money paid in the wake of a tragedy on a facility intended to improve the community’s quality of life, some reservations were raised.
Councilmember Linda Mason balanced her excitement for approval by calling for the contractor to regularly attend public meetings and provide updates on how the project is proceeding.
“This is a project the city is very excited about and like many government agencies, there is always this feeling of it is going to take too long or it is going to be delayed. I think it’s really important these conversations are had in public, and that the contractor, the city and all our consultants are being held accountable together,” she said. “Because if at the end of the day we are not working together, this project is not going to get done. “
A management consultant hired by the city to facilitate the project said he planned to regularly give presentations to councilmembers during meetings, and officials said they would examine whether the contractor could be present too.
Under the decision, a contract with Lathrop Construction will be finalized to pay $43 million for a facility with indoor and outdoor pools, community rooms, a gym and classrooms. Officials hope the project will be break ground later this year and be completed in 2023.
The overall budget, which includes a $4 million contingency fund, $6 million for design fees, $1.2 million for construction management and almost $5 million in other work and fees, pushes the total sum to $60 million.
To fulfill the budget, officials are planning to receive a $50 million grant from the San Bruno Community Foundation, which is overseeing the effort to assure funds paid by Pacific Gas and Electric after the Crestmoor neighborhood explosion are spent on an initiative benefiting all residents.
Beyond the foundation’s contribution, officials are planning to spend $4.5 million paid by YouTube as part of the corporation’s campus expansion proposal. Additionally, $1.7 million will be drawn from the city’s park in-lieu fund, $1 million in settlement funds paid by PG&E to the city, $900,000 in residual money from the funds set aside to rebuild the Crestmoor neighborhood and about $2.8 million in contributions from various other city funds.
Noting the cost of the project is greater than the amount held in the city’s general fund, Councilmember Michael Salazar urged caution among officials when adopting the budget.
He added that the project requires drawing from funds addressing capital projects, and suggested looking for other fashions of financing the construction.
“When I look at building this wonderful project, I agree we need to find the money where it can be. But I feel that it may be in some cases coming in the expense of other critical infrastructure needs, and that is where I struggle,” he said.
To offset the drain on city resources, Salazar suggested perhaps using bond funds that would specifically serve to address construction costs and leave infrastructure financing untouched.
The proposal failed to gain much support among his colleagues, who noted there are contingency fees built into the budget that can help protect the city’s finances.
Ultimately, councilmembers agreed that stringent oversight and regular updates would be adequate to assure the project is kept on track.
Celebrating the decision to push the project ahead, Mayor Rico Medina shared his enthusiasm.
“I think we are ready to go,” he said.