The Lodi City Council agreed to accept $1 million from Waste Management for improvements at the Grape Bowl and allocated some of that money to install artificial turf.
In exchange, Waste Management received the option to extend its contract with the city through 2031.
Tom Sanchez, business manager for Waste Management, said the company wanted to work out a deal with the city because many of its employees have played and graduated in the aging stadium.
"Those of us from Lodi understand that emotional value. I had to convince my company it was a good business decision," he said.
About 30 people showed up, including football coaches and several kids in football jerseys, to show their support for the Grape Bowl.
Having played football in college and in the National Football League, Greg Bishop said he has played in stadiums throughout the country.
"The Grape Bowl is one of the best places to watch a football game and to bring the community together," he said.
The council supported the agreement in a 3-1 vote with Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce absent.
In a separate item the council also approved contracts awarding $1.36 million to purchase and install artificial turf at the Grape Bowl.
Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock said she could not support the agreement because she did not know if it was a sound business decision to give the option to extend the contract for that many years. She said Waste Management would not be offering the money if the company did not believe they were getting a good deal.
"I don't think we have analyzed it thoroughly at this time, and I cannot support it without us taking a longer look at this," she said.
At first, Councilman Larry Hansen said he was concerned with the length of the contract. But he said Waste Management has demonstrated trust in the past and has always been responsive to citizens' concerns. He also believed the city has few opportunities like this to take advantage of.
"There is going to be a lot of cynics that will shake their head with disbelief that this is a good thing to do, but I think it is and I'm going to support it."
The newest contract with Waste Management was negotiated in 2008. It goes until the end of 2016, when the city has the option to extend it for another seven years until the end of 2024. The council's decision Wednesday night will give the option for the agreement to extend another seven years through 2031.
Extending the contract in either case is contingent on customer satisfaction with Waste Management as a company, which Sanchez said protects the taxpayers.
The company is required to submit a report to the city showing quantitative measurements, such as surveys, third-party studies or internal quality control programs, that show customer service satisfaction.
By extending the contract, resident Roy Bitz said Waste Management has no reason not to take the cost-of-living increase every year because there is no competition.
"Your responsibility is to the citizens," he said. "Shop it, see what someone else is willing to do."
Resident Bob Shepard reminded the council that the Grape Bowl has historic significance, and it is important to preserve it.
"We have lost a lot of places in Lodi that have contributed to the history of Lodi. … It's going to be a featured item throughout Central California," he said.
History of Waste Management's contract with the cityWaste Management started providing garbage service for Lodi under the name of United Waste Systems in 1997, city spokesman Jeff Hood said. The company took over for another company that had the franchise agreement since 1989, he said.
The city took advantage of the option to renew the contract in 2003. The newest contract with Waste Management was negotiated in 2008. It goes until the end of 2016, when the city has the option to extend it for another seven years until the end of 2024.
Waste Management's contract allows the company to provide trash service to all businesses and residences in the city.
During each renewal or contract negotiation, Hood said the city has received extra incentives from Waste Management.
The current contract requires Texas-based Waste Management pay $541,500 to the city annually to reimburse the city for the costs of city employees' collecting trash at city parks, street sweeping, leaf pickup, Downtown cleaning and bus stop trash collection. The amount will increase yearly by 80 percent of the Consumer Price Index.
The contract also requires the company to waive fees for dumping street cleanings and fall leaves and service city trash containers, saving the city $120,000 yearly.
During the 13 years Waste Management has provided service, the average annual increase has been 2 percent, Hood said. He described the contract as the most restrictive of all the city's utilities as far as allowing rate increases.
The company can ask for yearly rate increases of 80 percent of the Consumer Price Index. It also can ask for increases to cover any extraordinary costs, such as fuel going up or higher county dump fees.
The company reimburses the city for its share of billing expenses, and the amount increases annually by 80 percent of the Consumer Price Index.
In other action— Council approves low-income senior housing complex.
Eden Housing, a non-profit developer, received approval to move forward with an affordable senior housing project on Tienda Drive next door to Target and Roget Park.
The 80 one-bedroom units will be for seniors who are 55 and older and on limited incomes.
The Lodi City Council voted to sell 2245 Tienda Drive to Eden for $630,000. The money will go into the city's parks fund and will be used to develop Roget Park.
The in Hayward-based developer will secure the financing, construct the project and then manage it.
Eden Housing still has to close escrow, which it expects to do by June. If Eden receives anticipated federal Housing and Urban Development funding, it will start construction by early 2012. The developer expects seniors to be able to rent the units in 2013.
The project will be in two parts with the first phase being 39 units, an administrative office and a community room, and the second phase being 41 apartments and an activity room.
The complex will charge no more than 30 percent of the residents' income in rent.
— Lodi Imam gives prayer at council meeting.
For the first time, Lodi Muslim Mosque Imam Ahmed Hashimi gave the prayer at the council meeting, part in English, part in Arabic.
"I will say that we are gathered here just seeking guidance from God because his very beautiful name is peace," he said. "We are imploring peace from the God."
He prayed for guidance for the council.
"All praise be to Allah the most merciful, the most compassionate," he said in both Arabic and English. "You alone we worship, you alone we ask for help."
He also asked God to protect the country from disasters.
"Oh, Lord, protect this country and all the human beings and all humanity," Hashimi said.