A Lodi parks fund has almost $3 million for park improvements or sports buildings, city officials say, and everyone has plans for the money.
The Parks and Recreation Department money comes from developer impact fees, which are paid by developers as new homes are built in Lodi. Other departments, such as police, fire and public works, have similar funds. At $2.8 million, parks and recreation has the second largest fund behind the storm drain fund, which has $3.1 million.
"It seems like a lot of money, but it will go quickly," City Manager Blair King said.
Besides grants, the developer impact fee fund is the only source of money for the department's capital projects.
King said the money was collected with specific projects in mind, including improvements to DeBenedetti Park, Pixley Park and Roget Park. He said future recreational buildings fall within the fund.
DeBenedetti Park, on Lower Sacramento Road, will get an $8 million injection from FCB Homes, the developer of the Southwest Gateway and Westside projects. But King said another $1 million might be needed to improve the park.
"We should get DeBenedetti Park funded first," King said. "That opens up the playing field for other projects. Everyone has ideas of how to spend the money."
Budget and Finance Committee member John Johnson said he would like an indoor sports center or swim center. Johnson was the leading supporter of the defeated Measure G, which would have levied a sales tax to pay for the two recreational buildings. He said the city should build a scaled-down version of the proposed sports center.
"We need to redesign one of the projects to fit into the money that we have," Johnson said.
The sports center and swim center were estimated to cost $9 million each. Johnson said he heard an estimate from Diede Construction Company for $4.4 million for a 73,000 square-foot building. He said a smaller, 30,000 square-foot sports center could be built with the money in the parks fund.
"You can wait until you have the money to build a grandiose sports center, or you can build one with what you've got," he said. "We have this money. The Parks and Recreation Department needs to start a dialogue on how to spend it."
Parks and Recreation Director Tony Goehring said building a sports center would drain the fund and there would be no money left to improve the three parks.
Impact Mitigation Funds at a glance:The money comes from developer impact fees, which are paid by developers as new homes are built in Lodi.
• Storm drain fund: $3.1 million
• Parks and Recreation fund: $2.8 million
• Water fund: $2.2 million
• General facilities fund: $1.3 million
• Wastewater fund: $700,000
• Art in public places fund: $500,000
Source: City of Lodi.
"We can either do those three parks or a sports center, but not both," Goehring said.
Goehring said the city owns most of the land on North Stockton Street for the proposed sports center but does not own the southwest Lodi property on the site of a future swim center.
"The aquatic center is a long way off," he said. "We don't have the land tied up for that."
He said the Parks and Recreation Department will start earmarking the funds for spending as soon as January, when the City Council decides on the plan for Roget Park on Tienda Drive.
First published: Tuesday, December 5, 2006