With a month to go before key milestones must be met in the development of Coliseum City, the leading developer is doing little to alleviate angst that it might not be that devoted to the project.

When real estate titan Colony Capital joined the development team aiming to turn Oakland's Coliseum complex into a sports and entertainment hub with new facilities for Oakland's three professional sports teams, the firm's President Thomas Barrack released a statement expressing his enthusiasm to work on the "transformational" project.

Asked last week whether Colony is still moving forward with the project and whether Barrack's prior statement stands, Colony through a spokeswoman declined to comment.

That was troubling to Councilman Larry Reid, who also sits on the joint Oakland-Alameda County board that oversees the 120-acre Coliseum complex. "You'd think it would be easy for Colony to say, 'Yes, we're still in this 100 percent,' but they don't want to respond."

Assistant city manager Fred Blackwell said Colony has worked diligently on Coliseum City and met with the city as recently as two weeks ago.

"I think Colony just prefers to keep their shoulder to the wheel and get the work done and not respond to the noise out there," he said.

Ironically, it's not Colony, but the city that has not yet signed onto the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement to develop Coliseum City that was approved late last year.

Blackwell said a financial dispute between the development firm, Forest City, and other members of the original development team had prevented the city signing the negotiating pact with Colony and its partner Dubai-based Hayah Holdings.

Forest City believes it has not been fully paid by one of its partners for its work on the project, Blackwell said.

"We can't just unilaterally push (Forest City) out," Blackwell said. "They won't leave until the payment issue is settled." The disputed sum is less than $100,000.

Blackwell said Colony and Hayah are still working to meet key milestones even though the agreement remains unsigned. By March 21, they must have completed key analyses on the type of project that would be feasible at the site and how the development would take shape.

At that point, Reid said, "We'll see what accomplishments they've made."

Zermeño raises most in Hayward race

Hayward Councilman Francisco Zermeño, the first candidate to declare that he was running for mayor, has outpaced his opponents in fundraising.

Zermeño started campaigning and raising money in May, getting a jump on fellow council members Mark Salinas, who joined the race in August, and Barbara Halliday, who announced her intention to seek the post in September.

As of Dec. 31, the last reporting period, Zermeno had raised $27,677, Salinas $13,198 and Halliday $11,774. Zermeño also spent the most, $10,132, compared with $2,479 for Salinas and $1,995 for Halliday.

Mayor Michael Sweeney is stepping down from public office at the end of his term. The Hayward municipal election is June 3.