As some already know from this past week’s “study session” at City Hall, the City Council is about to vote on the Sports Park: the city’s Joint Project with the Triunfo YMCA. While some have called this the “Y Project”, the vast majority of this approximately 30 acre project would ultimately be city owned. Up to 20 acres will be a flat “pad,” with approximately 8 acres of sports fields, 5 acres for the Y, the balance of the pad for parking and ancillary park facilities. The remainder will be landscape, slope, and access.
The deal is unusual, and involves the Y trading land with Canyon Oaks HOA, and the city grading the new property in exchange for owning all but the small 5 acre piece that the Y will build its facility on.
The estimated cost to create the “pad” is $10 million which may or may not be financed. Even if the city finances the project, the city’s discretionary income would be some $3 million/year even after the $400,000 of debt service and maintenance for this project. This $3m is the monies beyond operating expenses that the city uses towards capital improvements.
With a deal some 6-8 years in the making, the city council will vote on the project on October 24th. A further substantial delay would likely cause the deal to fall apart. The project has overwhelming support from Canyon Oaks HOA, AYSO, Westlake Baseball, WAGS, and the Y.
If you are interested in parks, sports, the Y or city finances, you should probably read the entire piece.
Why a Sports Park?
National standards for a city are 5 acres of park land per 1,000 population. This means that Westlake Village, with 8700 residents, should have 44 acres of park land, but instead the city has only 15.24 acres or 1.7 acres per 1000. Only 4 of these acres are for active sports use. By contrast, other local areas have: 3.75 per 1000 in Moorpark, 3.69 for Agoura Hills, and 7.4 for the Thousand Oaks area. Of course, parks are different from open space of which Westlake Village is about half open space.
The city did a survey, and almost half of the households in Westlake Village have children who use parks. Looking at it in a different way, 2/3 of residents have used the parks in the past year, with 1/3 using parks more than 6 times per month.
More than 2/3 of the residents want additional parks in the city, and 85% agreed that it was appropriate for the city to work with other cities or entities for more parks.
The Triunfo YMCA
The Triunfo YMCA is well known for it’s family programs (considered by many to be among the best in the country) which include Indian Guides/Princesses, Trailblazers, and Indian Papooses. In addition, the Y provides other services such as after school care, teen programs, camps and resident camps, aquatics, basketball, football, “Itty Bitty” programs, Youth and Government, and Model UN.
Surprisingly, the Triunfo YMCA is one of (if not the) largest Y’s in the United States without a permanent facility.
The Triunfo YMCA owns a parcel of land on east side of Lindero Canyon, next to east side of the Canyon Oaks development. This parcel is literally “flag” shaped with the “pole” extending all the down the west edge of the golf course to Thousand Oaks Blvd.
This parcel is already flat, and utility stubbed, and needs comparatively little work to begin construction. The parcel is 7 acres with approximately 4 that could be built on.
The Y already has over $1m in hand for the development of a Y facility, even before the fundraising efforts begin.
Canyon Oaks HOA, the Y, Land Swap
The 3-way deal that’s evolved is not your average deal. Here’s the background.
Canyon Oaks is on both sides of Lindero Canyon with the majority of the homes on the west side of Lindero.
The city owns a property, called Lot 79, to the North of the western part of the Canyon Oaks area. The city had identified Lot 79 as a possible location for an active sports park for the City of Westlake Village.
In 2001, the Y got city approval for their building, but at the request of the city, the Y opts to work with Canyon Oaks HOA to look for an alternative location. This was because Canyon Oaks would prefer that the Y’s property not be built on at all since it is adjacent to their homes.
A land swap deal evolved to trade the Y land on Lindero, for HOA owned land on the North side of Thousand Oaks Blvd, between Via Colinas and La Baya. In other words, West of the car wash and West of much of Canyon Oaks. This property is currently open space, near the border of the city of Thousand Oaks.
Why is Canyon Oaks wanting to do this deal? Because they want the Y’s existing property to remain open space. And, because they would like Lot 79 to also remain open space — enough so that they are willing to trade another property to preserve that.
In late 2001, the city realizes that it may be possible to work with the Y to create a new city park site as well.
For the next few years, there’s a series of discussions, extensions given to the Y on their building approval, memorandums of understanding, and the list goes on. More important than the details of all of these, is the general picture that the Y, Canyon Oaks, and the city were working together to figure out what could work.
In 2005, the city council enters into a” real property assurances agreement” with the Canyon Oaks HOA which assures the HOA the following:
* limits on the size of the sports fields
* operations parameters for the park
* the city would set a hearing to rezone Lot 79 (across from the Y property)
The hearing part is that if the deal is done, the city has agreed to hold a hearing to rezone Lot 79. More specifically, to put an overlay to only allow passive activities on the property. Furthermore, the re-zoning would consider putting a 100 ft buffer along border of the Canyon Oaks homes/property.
In July 2005, the Y gets approval for a project on Thousand Oaks Blvd. (planned development permit, EIR, etc…)
Grading, Infrastructures and Pad
To make the area usable, a substantial amount of grading needs to be done on the property, infrastructure needs to be added, and access needs to be created. The grading is zero sum — in other words, dirt will neither be added to the area, nor taken away — , simply moved to create a flat “pad”.
The total size of the property is approximately 30 acres. The agreements include a limit for the active sports fields of approximately 8 acres. The Y will own about 5 acres and build its facilities on that piece. The balance of the property will be split between slopes, access road, parking and passive park uses such as walking trails, picnic areas, etc…
The final size of the pad is still under investigation, as the city engineers need to do additional core samples and research. But, they are confident of at least an 18-20 acre pad. Of which, the Y would use 5 acres, and the city’s active sports park and passive uses would be 13-15 flat acres or more.
In the end, the elevation rises some 400 feet from the street level which will present additional challenges, but is doable. The access road will be designed to have as gradual a grade as reasonable.
Because of close proximity to Thousand Oaks Blvd., most utilities are readily available for hookup, but do need to be extended into the property. This includes storm drains, water, reclaimed water, sewer, electrical, gas, telephone and cable/tv.
The drainage work will include drainage from above the development, under the pad to the street. Booster pumps will be installed to help with move of water up to where it’s needed for both irrigation and the pad use.
The estimated cost for preparing the property — i.e., prepared so that sports fields and the Y building can be built — is approximately $10 million. Grading is $5m of that, and irrigation/landscaping is $3m of it. These are current costs, with no inflation added, and without a final design. The Y would pay for 20% of costs related to infrastructure improvements. And, there’s a 10% contingency built in. So, the city’s cost is projected at $8m for the pad, including the contingency.
The schedule calls for completing the pad within 48 months.
Potential Uses of the Sports Park
Design work has not started, but if the project is approved, the city will get help from an outside park planning firm. The city has stated that it intends to listen to the community, and other organizations for what would work best as it has done on other park improvement projects.
Some thoughts already include : “a range of both active and passive uses, including sports fields for youth soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey, football, outdoor basketball courts; skateboard facility; sand volleyball court; picnic areas; walking/fitness trail around perimeter of the site; restrooms; snack shack; and maintenance building.”
In addition, the play fields may use synthetic turf. And, “in addition to safety lighting in parking areas, the facility may include lighting for activities up to 9 p.m. nightly.”
The Y and Canyon Oaks have an agreement in place to trade the Y’s Lindero Property for the new area. This is a completed deal, and executes at the Y’s discretion (obviously pending a Y deal with the city).
Under a partnership between the Y and the City of Westlake Village, the city would essentially get 13-15 flat acres or more of property, in addition to approximately 10 acres of slope, etc… in exchange for making the property usable. And, once completed, the Y and the City would operate the area together including sharing expenses.
Technically, this is done through a series of four documents: a lease/purchase agreement, the CC&Rs, a secured promissory note, and a deed of trust. The $1/year lease part of the agreement is to cover things WHILE the area is under construction. Upon completion, the purchase option would be executed by the city.
In the end, the Y will own 5 acres. The City will own 13-15 flat acres or more, plus the slope and other area (10 acres) for a total of approximately 25 acres. In other words, this is a land acquisition deal for the City that by any measure gets additional parks at a fraction of the market rates for land.
First, the Y would bear all costs related to the building of their facility once the “pad” is complete. That’s in addition to the 20% of the costs to implement the phase 1 (aka “pad”) work.
As stated above, the cost of making the pad is estimated at $10m. Of that, $2m would be paid for by the Y, and $1m is set aside for contingencies.
If the city were to finance $7m of the $8m it would need to contribute for the pad, that would come to a debt service of $400,000 annually.
When the city uses updated projections for overall revenues and operating expenses, including this $400,000 debt service, as well as increases in maintenance costs, there’s $3m or more per year available that the city can decide how to use. $1m is the average that the city should spend on roads, so there would still be approximately $2m available as “discretionary income”.
The future sports park development costs are estimated at $6m. This is the cost to build the fields and ancillary facilities after the pad portion is complete. The city already has a grant for $1m of this, and there are several possibilities already for additional fund raising, grants, and contributions.
Operating expenses will likely be covered by a combination of already existing revenue streams, and government sources, as well as fees paid to use the fields by the assorted sporting and other organizations.
The City’s Fiscal Budget Committee (which includes not only the City Manager, but council members Bruno and Slavin) “has reviewed all project costs and has concluded that the project is economically feasible for the City to undertake.”
City Council Vote
All three groups have been working on this for many years. The Y is at the point that if the deal does not move forward, it will pull out and develop the property on Lindero.
In addition, there is strong support from:
* Canyon Oaks HOA
* Westlake Baseball
* WAGS (Westlake/Agoura Girls Softball)
* AYSO Soccer
* and other residents including seniors, and teens
In all, the three sports organizations represent thousands of kids in the area.
This Wednesday, October 24, 2007, the City Council is slated to vote on the Sports Park project. The vote is to give the mayor authority to sign a binding deal that has been some 6-8 years in the making.