Senior center designs getting underway

Huntington Beach council approves four contracts but debates how to secure the funding for the construction.

July 03, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio

Plans for a long-awaited new senior center that have been in limbo for nearly a decade were dusted off Monday as Huntington Beach council members and city staff discussed ways to move forward and get the project done.

The council awarded contracts to four design firms to look separately at architecture, civil engineering, traffic modeling and construction. It had already set aside $300,000 to fund the contracts.

Sources of funding remained the topic of conversation during the study session; the city expects construction of the facility to cost the city $15 million. Bonds, private donations and corporate help were laid out as possibilities.


Former Huntington Beach Mayor Ralph Bauer, who turned 83 on Tuesday, told council members that he is an avid follower of the issue and thinks this waiting process has gotten out of hand.

"If years go by and I'm no longer able to speak on this, someone will take my place," he said. "It's because the people of Huntington Beach voted for it."

Finance Director Lori Ann Farrell briefed council members on their options for funding the project.

Around $22 million by way of park fees was supposed to come from another project, Pacific City, Farrell said. But that money was not to be seen after the initial developer, Makar Properties, went bankrupt and handed the project off to another developer.

Farrell gave council members the option to purchase a $15 million bond and finance it over 30 years, paying $1.2 million annually.

Mayor Connie Boardman and Councilman Joe Shaw suggested using a portion of the general park fees to reduce the overall cost and avoid having to finance a $15 million bond. Councilwoman Jill Hardy, however, was concerned about using all of the park fees for one project.

"I'm concerned about other park projects, like purchasing closed school sites and undeveloped parks that we still have, like Bartlett Park," Hardy said.

External funding, like donations and grants, is another route the city could take to raise funds.

Boardman said Hoag Hospital had been willing to donate money for the center but legal complications have made donors nervous. The local Parks Legal Defense Fund sued the city over its supplemental environmental impact report and is now in the appeals process.

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