Community Services District directors got right to work on Thursday to create what newly sworn director Gary Gordon called "a community complex."
Directors voted unanimously to seek bid proposals from several architects who have submitted applications to restore the 125-year-old Lockeford Community Center, which once served as an elementary school.
They also agreed to pursue the purchase of an adjacent 19th-century warehouse north of the old school house on North Jack Tone Road. The warehouse, owned by D.H. Winn Trucking, is being sought by the district for use as a gymnasium, public library, art gallery and meeting place.
Gordon also suggested that, if the district acquires the three-acre Winn property, land east of the warehouse be used for much-needed parking at the existing Lockeford Elementary School. Other land on the Winn property could be used for a small park.
The Community Services District will seek a joint-use partnership with the Lodi Unified School District if the Lockeford district acquires the Winn property.
Gordon stirred up some debate when he recommended that $200,000 of state money, set aside for a community park, be used for park land on the Winn property.
Former director Preston Ledbetter objected, saying the state park money should be put toward a larger park, such as a 12.5-acre plot the district already owns.
The district, however, faces a major stumbling block in that it doesn't have access to the larger park site, located north of Brandt Road between Jack Tone and Tully roads.
The board had dreamed of the site the district already owns for soccer, softball and Little League fields, but directors weren't optimistic Thursday that the district could acquire the needed access road from Ed Pestana, who hopes to build a 319-acre subdivision east of Jack Tone Road toward Brandt Road.
Former Assemblyman Larry Bowler, R-Elk Grove, managed to get $100,000 for a Lockeford park in the 1998-99 fiscal year state budget, while his successor, Anthony Pescetti, R-Rancho Cordova, got Lockeford another $100,000 in the 1999-2000 budget.
However, the district will lose the money Bowler garnered if it fails to submit an application for the funds by June 30.
"I'd hate to lose $100,000," Gordon said. "At least we'd be using it instead of losing it."
The district also has $270,000 in San Joaquin County funds to design a new community center, which the board now hopes will be the old Winn warehouse.
The old Lockeford School building, now used as a senior center, an after-school youth program and for rental for wedding receptions and community groups, will be restored thanks to $250,000 in Proposition 12 park bond money. Proposition 12 is a $2.1 billion bond approved by voters in the March primary for park and open-space projects throughout California.
Plans for the old school building include installing a foundation, improving the electrical system, replacing an old bell that was once rang on top of the school, new restrooms, an overhead sprinkler system and improved handicapped access.
The district will request bids with and without expanding a basement in the old school building.
Stockton historian Leslie Crow, hired by the district to help restore the building, said it will take about three months to process an application to the state to qualify the former school for the California Register. Inclusion in the state register could make the district eligible for more grants, Crow said.
A special meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 25 to further discuss exactly what to include in the school restoration plans. The meeting, open to the public, will be held in the McDonald Building next door to the former school, 19456 N. Jack Tone Road.
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