MORAGA — Brand-new bocce ball courts got the go-ahead from the Town Council last week, but it's looking unlikely they will actually be built.
The council last week approved the courts, to be built in Rancho Laguna Park and paid for by the Moraga Bocce Ball Club, and agreed to waive $4,900 of the estimated $7,720 in permit fees.
But the bocce club says that isn't enough. Unless the town waives the entire fee, said club member Dom Sidari, the club will not build the courts.
The club has outgrown the two existing courts at the Moraga Commons, Sidari said, and has been turning away teams because there is no room for them to play.
So the club offered to finance and build four courts at Rancho Laguna at an estimated cost of $12,000 to $15,000, according to Sidari, with the money coming from private donations.
Asking the club to also pay permit fees is unfair, he said, especially because the town will own the courts.
"As far as we're concerned, we're playing," Sidari said. "The only people it's going to hurt are people that want to play."
The town would be in a tricky legal position if it waived all of the fees, said Town Manager Mike Segrest. Waiving fees is equivalent to a town contribution, he said, and once the town contributes $5,000 or more to a project, it becomes subject to an open-bid process and prevailing wage laws.
"It can significantly drive up the cost of the project and consequently make it difficult, especially in kind of a quasi-volunteer project to do it the way you want to do it," Segrest said. Failure to comply with those laws, he added, could leave the town vulnerable to lawsuits.
That's a risk the council couldn't take, said Mayor Ken Chew.
"It's our fiduciary duty to make sure "... to protect the interests of the town," he said.
If the project was built solely by volunteers, as was the playground structure recently installed at the Commons, the town could waive more than $5,000 in fees without worrying about the legal issues, Segrest said.
But, he added, "not knowing exactly how (the club plans) on doing the project, it was just a concern raised by our town attorney."
Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/sosaysjonathan.