BAY POINT -- A planned series of community meetings on how best to spend funds to improve Ambrose Park has been put on hold while the district considers a possible sale of a different parcel of park property that could provide additional money for the improvements.
Ambrose Recreation & Park District board members voted 4-1 last week to hold off on setting meeting dates until next month to gather more information that could result in the sale of the land, located at Willow Pass Road and Clearland Drive. The vacant lot is just down the street from district headquarters in Bay Point.
Board member Lee Mason cast the no vote. "The money really is not the issue," he said. "The issue is we need to get new input into this project."
Ambrose Park is in Pittsburg, but the park is owned and maintained by the park district.
At its January meeting, the board indicated it wanted to hold public hearings on developing a new plan for park improvements after bids came in too high last year to demolish a lap pool.
The pool had closed in 2008 for code violations, and the district planned to replace it with a children's pool. About $1.7 million in voter-approved bond funds from the East Bay Regional Park District's Measure WW are available for construction costs, but the lowest bid was about $700,000 higher.
District officials then learned of an offer made for the Willow Pass Road property and held a closed session Feb. 21 to discuss it.
At Thursday's meeting, Bay Point resident Michael Kerr contended there is no reason to sell the Willow Pass Road property when real estate prices have fallen from where they were years ago.
"It would be a dereliction to sell the district property at this time when there is no need for additional funds," he said.
On Friday, board chairman Steve Hoagland said the district owns the property free and clear and has been trying to sell it for several years. If the sale does happen, he said it could bring the district "a substantial amount of money ... hundreds of thousands" of dollars in additional funding that could be used in any way the board decides.
At their April 11 meeting, board members are expected make a decision on whether to sell the property and also set community hearing dates for the Ambrose Park improvements.
Mason said if the property sale happens and extra funding becomes available, the discussion on how to use any extra funds should not be limited to Ambrose Park. Other parks also need attention, he said.
The district held two public workshops in 2009 that resulted in the adoption of a master plan for the children's pool project and other Ambrose Park improvements. The children's pool was included in the master plan as a cost-effective solution to a new lap pool. But some in the community wanted the old pool to be brought up to code and reopened.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.