I've always advocated the one of the primary purposes of city government is to provide facilities for local groups and organizations to use at a most reasonable price.
As such, Antioch has had a policy to have at least one neighborhood park for every 5,000 residents and has easily exceeded that goal.
The only city-run park with sports fields is located on James Donlon where it will soon be installing artificial turf fields for year-round use.
The city has also been proactive is securing agreements with Dow Chemical for the use by the Babe Ruth leagues and the acquisition of the baseball and soccer fields on Wilbur Avenue that are owned and run by the nonprofit Delta Youth Sports group.
The city also assisted with the Antioch Historical Society obtaining ownership of the former Riverview High School on Fourth Street, which was a considerable improvement over their cramped former quarters in the old Carnegie Library building.
The Antioch Babe Ruth organization does a wonderful job maintaining the fields and fundraising to keep the costs for youth participants reasonable. Currently players pay $180 for spring and $150 for fall seasons.
Fees vary for participants at the Antioch Youth Sports Complex on Wilbur depending on age groups.
The Antioch Historical Society has fundraisers to maintain and upgrade its facility.
It is the repository of Antioch's history and provides tours for more than 3,000 school
More than 3,300 youths participate in sports leagues at the Babe Ruth and Antioch Youth Sports Complex.
But all three of these nonprofit facilities are under seize by the city of Antioch.
You see, the city has been providing water for those facilities at no cost, but now it wants to start charging these organizations like any other water user.
So, what amount of money are we talking about? That would be $42,000 a year for the large Antioch Youth Sports Complex, $36,000 a year for the Base Ruth fields, and $3,000 a year for the Antioch Historical Society grounds.
That's $81,000 a year to these nonprofit facilities that provide wholesome activities for our youth!
The city doesn't contribute anything else to these facilities.
Now the city's Water Fund is actually an Enterprise Zone, which is operated separately from the city's General fund and like a business.
So you'd think that that "business," which provides treated water to every resident and business in the city, would able to make that a deductible contribution to the community.
While the recycled water from the Delta Diablo Sanitation District is now being used at the Lone Tree Golf Course and a couple of city-owned parks, it does come at a cost. The piping has to be totally separate from any treated water piping. And, there is the cost to digging trenches in streets to get that piping to the various facilities -- a cost that these organizations simply cannot afford.
Then there is the thought of drilling wells and ensuring that there is sufficient ground water at a rate needed to operate the sprinklers for the sports fields. But again, separate piping is required so that it doesn't mix with treated water to the bathrooms, drinking fountains and food stands.
It is important to keep in mind that all three of these facilities are operated with 100 percent volunteers!
If the city thinks that the "cost" of water they are now providing to those three facilities will fund one police officer position, they are tens of thousands of dollars short of what one police officer costs (which approaches $200,000 in salary, benefits, training, equipping, etc.).
So to the City Council: You are subsidizing many times more to the city-run Prewett Water Park and the Animal Shelter. You've got a great deal at $81,000 that provides activities for more than 6,300 youth. Continue to provide that water! It is the best deal in town!
Arne Simonsen served on the Antioch City Council 2000-2008. You can contact him at email@example.com.