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CSD Should Open Athletic Club to Everyone

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Now that I’ve had a few days to speak with several elected officials, stakeholders, and residents, there is little doubt that the Discovery Bay Community Services District (CSD) needs to slow down and take a second look at what they are about to propose with the athletic center.

If the CSD wants to give this community center the best shot possible going forward (it will go for a parcel tax at some point), they can’t make it look they are funding an athletic club through a subsidy.

Instead, open it up to every Discovery Bay resident for the 120-day period. Anyone who wishes to use the facility living outside Discovery Bay, charge them the fee. This will allow the CSD to then determine if the athletic club can be self-sustaining going forward.

Let me preference by saying that I’m  fan of a community center, I believe Discovery Bay needs a community center and has waited long enough for one,  but only if it’s done right. Attaching an athletic club within the 7.4 acre plan while charging membership fees is not doing this right and it needs to be scrapped immediately!

For starters, the Hoffman Company funds are now in jeopardy which has been held in escrow since the early 1990’s.  The original idea before the community center was for it to be majority-funded by the developer, not 100% the community.

Hopefully what the community and CSD will recall is that the CSD is the third party in this process. Dating back to the early 1990s, the Hoffman Company was to provide the land and half the cost of construction—that was it. This was actually a county imposed condition of approval to build Discovery Bay as part of the development agreement.

Instead of following that early agreement, the CSD has appears to have gone out on their own to provide a service to the community. While admirable, there is still no agreement between Hoffman Company and the County which could put the project at risk.

If neither the county or Hoffman Company like where the CSD is headed going forward, the funds then could become marginalized.  CSD would then essentially forfeit the land and half the cost of construction and then becomes a 100% community funded project with a larger parcel tax in the coming years.

While the community center could still work out, going forward “just because” is not very bright because the cost then skyrockets.  Instead of the community getting a center at 25-cents on the dollar, it could be assumed Discovery Bay will be paying 1.25 or higher on the dollar. The county and developer are now is also removed from the equation and funding gone—meaning so are 75 percent of the project costs.

Here is the Project Overview:

  • Land= 50 percent,
  • Building (Structure)= 50 percent
  • Hoffmann Company is currently on the hook for 100 percent of the land (50 percent of entire project) AND 50 percent of Building (Structure) which would be (25 percent of entire project cost). Ultimately, the Hofmann Company was on the hook for 75 percent of the Total Cost under the original agreement.

Should the CSD move forward, that funding may become jeopardized.

The other issue is the commingling of funds which is not even being addressed. There are multiple districts for recreation within Discovery Bay, but CSD feels obliged to only take from one (Zone 8).  They are then calling this a “community benefit”.

Calling that a “community benefit” is not really logical because the athletic club is a pay to play facility—only members can use it, not the entire community.

Unfortunately for the CSD, that’s illegal under Proposition 218. CSD are not allowed to commingle money under the law as funds must be used for what they are approved for and services provided.

Aside from Proposition 218, then there is simple common sense that says recreation does not include running a private athletic club subsidized by using taxpayer dollars.  Not to mention, the reality which says the recreation portion of the community center was never meant for an athletic club.

Recreation has to do with different types of programs which everyone could enjoy and participate in without membership—instead, 250 or so members under Zone 8 funding get subsidized.

While recreation may charge a fee to participate,  that is a world of difference than a membership fee which the athletic club is charging.  To get around this, simply open up the club for no membership to all residents of Discovery Bay since you are taking Zone 8 tax dollars.

Try it out for the 120-days to get the community buy in on the project instead of alienating residents who ultimately will vote on a parcel tax at some point.  This will also highlight if the CSD should continue down the athletic club business path or to scrap it and use the building for something else.

The CSD made a great error in judgment on the athletic club no matter how great it may be for future use, the law says they can’t do it.

If the CSD is dead set on this athletic center as a community benefit, then they need to lose the “membership” for Discovery Bay residents and open it up to everyone with residents outside of Discovery Bay paying a membership fee.  Only then could it be truly classified as a community benefit.

The CSD still has time to tweak this plan to allow this to pass the smell test because right now this one stinks as is.

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Categorised in: Discovery Bay, East County

15 Responses »

  1. Again, not accurate. I just wrote my story and the community center will be open to the entire community. I grew up with a community center that had specific class fees or monthly all access fees. That is the plan here as well. The plan is also to have a variety of completely free monthly events at the center, including movie nights, concerts, family fun days, and coming up first: Earth Day. Holding onto those Hoffman dollars is pretty clearly a priority, as well. Either way, a community center that would only cost the town $8,000 per month or less to operate is a bargain. It’s a 7-acre piece of land with a building. I recommend you go to the meeting tonight to get the full picture. Why keep bashing this progress that is applauded by most everyone in Discovery Bay?

    • Amanda, a “community center” and an “athletic club” are two separate issues. I thought I’d point that out to you. I am all for the community center, its a great investment in the community when done right, but getting into the athletic club business for 120-days with taxpayer money is a terrible idea.

      According to Paul B. at the Times, you have members currently paying “per visit” meaning you still need to be a member. Open it up for all Discovery Bay residents during this 120-day period for the fitness center.

      I am not bashing this entire project, only the athletic club portion which is only one component.

      • Hey Burk, Discovery Bay is a weird breed out that way man and you won’t please them all. Leave them alone and let them lose their funding on a rundown building in the name of fitness. The CSD would be wise to take into consideration what you are saying. It may not be popular, but you are correct. Some people just won’t get the ramifications because it’s over their head, you get it, some don’t and it clearly shows in the above comment. Yes, an athletic club is much different than a community center.

    • How could you write about this when the CSD has not yet met? Do you have a crystal ball that no one else has? Do you have insider information that no one else has?

    • “Again, not accurate”? This comment coming from the person that operates the Delta Sun Times, qualifies for the biggest oxymoron of all time.

      More like Lipstick on a pig. The CSD is holding the pig down and Ms. Dove is applying the lipstick.

      Of course the Discovery bay community would support a community center. Who wouldn’t, if the developer was shouldering the majority if the cost? But it doesn’t look like that is what is taking place. Amanda Dove’s Delta Sun Times survey logic fails when you change the two main components; cost and use.

      An athletic club by any other name is still an athletic club.

      If the CSD loses the developer funding in their haste then they have done the people of Discovery bay a disservice.

      As for cost, there appears to be fuzzy math at play. Wouldn’t there be a lot of hidden costs and liabilities the day they assume ownership? Insurance and maintenance come to mind. I visited that athletic club years ago it was old and worn out then! They are going to need a lot more than hopes, dreams and lipstick.

  2. Why would Discovery Bay want to jeopardize these funds, I have no idea! Stupid if you ask me. Why they would want to take over a club with 250 members which is down from 1,500 according to the last piece, who knows? Better doing away with the club and use it for other things and save taxpayers $8k.

  3. I left that facility years ago and have switched back and forth between Brentwood and Oakley gyms. While I liked the Delta Valley Athletic Club, I now prefer the Diamond Hills club and have no problem making the trip 3x a week for tennis. As much as I like our CSD, not a fan of this. I don’t think the author solution is any better by offering it free. I want quality and I will pay for it.

  4. Simply changing the name of a 35 year old athletic club doesn’t make it a community center. Burk is spot on here to take a step back and question the CSD motives. Delta Sun Times wants this project at all cost regardless of the law which is a very dangerous way of thinking and gets you into trouble later. This is what she wrote in January: “The Town of Discovery Bay Community Services District (the “District”) is seeking a qualified firm or Individuals (the “Contractor”) to provide comprehensive management and administrative services to an existing membership based athletic club.” This is a “membership based club” meaning Burkis accurate and Ms. Dove is not. they should lose the membership portion for 120-days and see if there is any real interest. My best guess is they want the building and will do away with the athletic club portion after this fails to get any real interest from the community.
    I don’t say this often to you burk, but well done.

  5. I agree with Laura. I think having a community center is a fabulous idea, but it needs to be done right. At this point, I am not in the market for a gym, so I will not be joining in the next few months. My biggest concern for the community center is to have a place where our children can enjoy different programs. Trust me- the kids out here are in desperate need for a safe place to “hang out”, and find something constructive to do with their time. There are many, many parents out here who feel the same way. From what I have heard and read, there are no big plans in the near future to put these programs in place, and that should be one of their biggest priorities. I would be more than happy to pay a monthly fee to use the community center, but not if they don’t offer anything I am looking for.

  6. I agree with Burkholder, the community center is not the issue, the athletic club is! It will also be higher than the assumption of only $8k as Ms. Dove at the Delta Sun Times suggest. I would encourage her to put on her big girl pants and do some simple math.

    According to Brentwood press, it will cost $18k to run. Rick Howard says $10k will be generated from current users (members fees). If the current users go away (or charged on a per usage), more than $8k from Zone 8 will likely be needed.

    Nothing is ever as good as it sounds once you put a dollar figure to it. Remember, all these free programs Ms. Dove is suggesting cost money. This will cost money one way or another and Discovery Bay as a whole, not 250 members, need to decide if they want to pay for this boondoggle. A step in the right direction is eliminating the athletic club.

  7. This is such a bad idea I don’t even know where to begin. Anytime you take money from taxes to fund a membership oriented club that is wrong. Burke is right, drop the membership requirement. Not sure what Delta Sun Times is referring to, they haven’t made a decision yet, Burke is advocating for them to do something, not change an already made decision. This article is clearly regarding an athletic club, not the community center, not sure why some are confused about it.

    The private market should be running athletic clubs, not special districts such as the CSD.

  8. I agree with Jill. its pretty simple that a community center a good idea while athletic club a bad idea

  9. Agreed. Community Center good. Ratepayer funded private Athletic Club bad.

    $180,000.00 four month experiment!

    http://www.todb.ca.gov/images/2013_Community_Center/02-11-13_Agenda_Packet.pdf

    According to the draft meeting minutes, the committee voted for up to $120,000 in capital PLUS $60,000 to cover operating losses in the next four months – none of this will come from funds collected with the intent of funding an athletic club or a community center. That is $180,000 for this four month experiment into a failed business model.

    The idea sounds great – like unicorns and rainbows sound great. But the reality is that the market has already determined that this health club is not viable. Now a group that includes zero real world experience in the industry is charging ahead because it sounds great. Sorry, towels do not solve the problems that the Club has faced for several years.

    The problems come from competition – with profit driven businesses – and a poor location for more than half of the community. This location isn’t even the closest athletic club for the Lakes and Lakeshore.

    Does anyone think that a community minded quest for unicorns and rainbows will prove more successful than profit driven entities that have top flight facilities? Unless this club was going to turn a profit, and in turn help fund the community center, it should be shut down immediately.

    This is a fool’s errand!

    A $180,000.00 four month experiment to see if a government agency can run a health club in a more sound financial manner than a private business owner. Anyone betting on the government agency?

    Why doesn’t the board hold a well publicized community center workshop, invite the community center committee, Hoffman and the County to see what should and can be worked out. These meeting that come with 72 hours notice are not intended to bring people out – they are intended to rush it through without the people knowing what’s going on.

    And don’t bet (or plan) on tax revenue from a community with two closed fire stations. Like Mr. Burkholder correctly point out: there are ‘wants’, and there are ‘needs’.

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