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Oakley Council Should Award Former Fire Station to Seniors

Three groups have submitted proposals for use of the former fire station which was formally occupied by HALO before the council was put in the middle of a power struggle. Tonight’s council meeting allow for a 5-10 minute proposal by the three groups.

Proposals submitted were by:

  • Animal Rescue Recon
  • H.A.L.O
  • Oakley Senior Citizens

Copies of the proposals are attached in the Staff Report, however, each organization has been invited to make a brief (5-1 0 minute) presentation at the Council Meeting.

As proposed, both the Animal Rescue Recon proposal and the H.A.L.O. proposal would generate $500 per month in lease revenue and no cost to the City for utilities, facility upkeep, etc. The Oakley Seniors proposal includes $0 revenue for the lease, but a commitment for the upkeep of the facility. The proposal infers that grants would be sought to cover the monthly cost of utilities. (The estimated utility cost is estimated at $500 – $1,000 per month and $650 per year in sewer fees and assessments).

My initial reaction upon reading the proposals and then thinking about it for a few days has not changed. Give it to the seniors under the condition it be used as an “incubator” to work towards something bigger and better in the future.

This is not something that should be decided on based of rent. Sure, $500 per month is nice, but $6,000 in the big scheme of things is nothing. A few fund raisers throughout the year and the Seniors could make that payment anyway.

The bigger picture here is this gives the Seniors a place to grow, its a community benefit, and I can think of many productive things that could occur here if they are given their chance–heck, even having a letter of support from Radback Energy shows the potential.

As for HALO, I am offended that their proposal was so low as its  business as usual under the original lease agreement. During the hearing a few months back, we heard Wayne Sanderson boast of their bank account being over $150,000 and rent was no problem.

As for Animal Rescue Recon, I’ll give them a pass on the rent since they are a newly created group of many former HALO members. Given they are a new group, they need more time under this name to operate before given a 3-year lease. I’d like to see them operate in a facility in Oakley, but not this location.  Given the “players” within this group, they have real potential but this is not the right fit in terms of location.

While animal rescue is important, the former firehouse has proven not to be a good fit due to the various complaints of noise and poop. I’d encourage the council to begin negotiating with the seniors as that can offer the best community benefit which allows the seniors to expand their programs.

By Michael Burkholder

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