Turlock Citizens Tell Council Don’t Spend City RDA Money on School Stadium

Last Tuesday, August 18th, the TUSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept $2.8 million in RDA money from the city if Turlock Council/RDA Members vote to include the Joe Debely Stadium project in the RDA budget. Turlock High School sits just outside the Redevelopment Area but the Turlock Unified School District found that they met the requirements to accept the funds if offered.

Over a handful of Turlockers voiced their concern at the August 25th City Council Meeting in regards to spending City of Turlock Redevelopment Agency funds on a Turlock Unified School District Joe Debely Stadium renovation project.

Whether or not the Joe Debely Stadium renovation would help meet the goals of the Redevelopment Agency listed below, citizens have spoke against this project prior to last night’s meeting.
During the public participation time at Tuesday’s Council Meeting, people stated reasons for not using RDA funds for a school stadium project including; the stadium project is not what RDA funds are for, there are already projects on the RDA funding list that are not finished or have been waiting to get started, there are more blighted locations within the RDA area that should be addressed first, the State of California might take up to $3 million in RDA funds so no new projects should be considered, and that there are more important issues to fund such as providing affordable housing or job creation.

One Turlock citizen read Jeff Hillberg’s TurlockCityNews.com column "Joe Debely Stadium and RDA Money" in its entirety.

As the law requires, the Turlock City Council was not allowed to take action on any of the discussion as it was all part of the public participation portion of the City Council Meeting.
Turlock City Planning Commissioner Soraya Fregosi also questioned whether or not Vice Mayor Ted Howze had a conflict of interest as he is a Board Member of Turlock Youth Football League which uses the Turlock High School football field.
Vice Mayor Howze passed out a copy of a letter from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) stating he had no conflict of interest voting on the project as a Council Member while also holding a Turlock Youth Football League Board Member position.
Later on, Turlock RDA Manager Heidi McNally-Dial reported that the State of California might borrow (with many speculating the State will take) $3 million in RDA funds while project area assessments are down approximately 5 percent. McNally-Dial also stated that if the $3 million in RDA funds were taken, it could negatively impact the RDA finances planned for the new $35 million Public Safety Facility.
City Council acting as the Redevelopment Agency voted to have a RDA workshop on October 6, 2009 at 7:00pm to publicly discuss the 2010-2014 Implementation and Housing Production Plan that the State of California requires to be updated every five years. This plan will include a list of RDA projects that would potentially be funded within the next five years, but may be amended at any time.
The Economic Development page on the City of Turlock website states:
Turlock Redevelopment Agency was established to assist in eliminating blight from specific designated areas of the city by redeveloping, reconstructing and rehabilitating. The Redevelopment Agency is comprised of the City Council with the City Manager acting as Executive Director.
Goals of the Redevelopment Agency
To eliminate the conditions of blight existing in the Project Area and to prevent reoccurrence of blighting conditions in the Project Area.

To provide for the planning, development, re-planning, redesign, clearance, redevelopment, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Project Area.

To aid in providing for such structures and spaces as may be appropriate or necessary in the interest of the general welfare, including without limitation, recreational and other facilities incidental or appurtenant to them.

To provide for the alteration, improvement, modernization, reconstruction or rehabilitation of existing structures and by providing for open space type uses, public and private buildings, structures, facilities and improvements.

Encourage employment opportunities through environmental and economic improvements resulting from redevelopment.

Provide for the rehabilitation of commercial structures and residential dwelling units.

Provide for participation in the redevelopment of property in the Project Area by owners who agree to participate in conformity with the redevelopment plan.

Provide for the management of property owned or acquired by the Agency.

Provide relocation assistance where Agency activities result in displacement.

Provide public infrastructure improvements (including regional facilities) and community facilities, such as the installation, construction and/or reconstruction of streets, utilities, public buildings, facilities, structures, street lighting, landscaping and other improvements which are necessary for the effective redevelopment of the Project Area.

Increase, improve and preserve the community’s supply of affordable housing.
Acquire real property.

Dispose of real property acquired by the Agency in the Project Area.

Encourage the redevelopment of the Project Area through the cooperation of private enterprise and public agencies.

Such other action as may be permitted by law.

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