PLEASANT HILL -- With fundraising falling far short of the $1.3 million goal, Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District leaders may take out a loan to furnish the new senior, teen and community centers.

Board members are considering borrowing $300,000 through the California Special Districts Association. The recreation district would repay the loan over seven years at 4.25 percent interest with annual payments of $50,500.

The board is scheduled to discuss the loan proposal at the Oct. 24 meeting.

"I've thought all along that we were going to need a bridge loan until we get all the money in," said Dennis Donaghu, board chairman. "When we set out to do the fundraising, we allowed people to spread their contributions over five years. So when it comes to buying the furniture, we're obviously going to have a cash-flow problem."

If the board agrees to borrow the money, the district would use the funds to buy the furniture now and continue to fundraise to repay the loan, he added.

"We have three new buildings coming and they need to look correct and not do it as-you-go," Donaghu said.

The grand opening for the teen center is Oct. 20 and the senior center is scheduled to open in December. The community center is under construction and slated to open in fall 2013.

In 2009, voters approved a $28 million bond to build the three centers, upgrade the fields at Pleasant Oaks Park and remodel restrooms at several parks. Since the bond funds can be used only for buildings, the board must raise $1.3 million to buy furniture and equipment. Thus far, the district has collected $398,467 of the $539,388 secured through foundation grants, donations and naming opportunities for rooms in the new buildings.


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Rather than borrow $500,000 at 4.75 percent interest, the board agreed last month to take a total of $200,000 from the district's capital projects, building and reserve funds. The sale of a three-bedroom house on Gregory Lane that had been part of the old senior center is expected to generate an additional $250,000. However, if board members approve the loan, they'll still need to raise more than $250,000 to meet the $1.3 million target. Upcoming fundraisers include "celebrity" bingo on Oct. 23 and a wine tasting soiree on Nov. 11.

Initially, the district's fundraising consultants focused on foundations, with the goal of bringing in about $500,000 in grants, according to Bob Berggren, general manager of the recreation district. But other than a $64,270 matching grant from the Danville-based Hedco Foundation for the teen center, that strategy didn't pan out, he said. In many cases, Pleasant Hill's middle-class population and the district's focus on recreation didn't match foundations' interests.

"We were counting on a couple of others and they did not come through and those were some of the big-ticket items," Berggren said.

In late July, the district canceled the contract with the consultants, who were paid about $85,000. Berggren said his staff realized that it was more important to solicit people living in and around Pleasant Hill who are familiar with the recreation district and the services it provides. Berggren said cultivating those donors is time consuming -- he described multiple meetings spent coaxing people to open their checkbooks -- but he hopes to sign a few soon.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.