EL CERRITO -- Construction was the theme on May 6, when the City Council received a briefing on the city's capital improvements program and an update on school construction, and took action on a new retail/residential development.
El Cerrito has $110 million in new capital improvements it would like to complete over the next 10 years that includes $57 million for a new library, public safety building and senior center, interim public works director Yvettah Ortiz told the council.
Unfortunately, the city has no money available now for any of the work, according to the Public Works Department study.
State and federal grant funding, which the city could tap into, is typically available only for transportation-oriented projects, according to City Manager Scott Hanin.
The council agreed that all the projects on the list should be prioritized so they can proceed in order when and if money becomes available.
"Having all these plans prepares us for good bond applications," Councilman Greg Lyman said.
Lyman noted other ideas that are currently lower priorities, such as improvements to trails and landscaping in the Hillside Natural Area, citywide path and stairway improvements, and an urban forest management plan, that he thinks deserve equal consideration.
The city will spend $5.3 million for capital improvements, the majority for street projects, for this fiscal year.
About $4 million of that money is coming from grants, Ortiz said.
The council also received an update from the West Contra Costa school district on the progress of school construction projects that are planned or underway within the city.
Two major projects, a remodel of the El Cerrito High School football stadium and a new Portola Middle School, are now under construction, according to district assistant superintendent Bill Fay.
Construction on the $13.44 million stadium project began in January and is scheduled to be completed in September of next year.
The new Portola, under construction on the site of the former Castro Elementary at 7125 Donal Ave., should be finished by December of 2015 with an opening date in March or April of 2016.
When the middle school leaves its temporary campus on Moeser Lane, Fairmont Elementary will move to that site for two years while a new Fairmont is being built on its current site.
The district has a $270 million bond measure, Measure H, on the June 3 ballot. School board President Charles Ramsey told the council that the Fairmont project could be delayed if the bond measure doesn't pass.
The city is interested in using part of the old Portola site for a new library.
The council agreed to consider supporting Measure H at its May 20 meeting.
At a separate meeting of the city's Municipal Services Corporation, the successor to its redevelopment agency, board members extended exclusive negotiating rights for five months to San Francisco-based Build Inc. for a retail and housing development at 11600 San Pablo Ave. near the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station.
Board members also approved an outline of the terms of the project and agreed to sell the 1.59 acre parcel to the developer for $2.26 million.
Most of the proceeds from the sale will go to pay off the successor agency's debt of just over $2 million on the property, known as the Mayfair Block.
Build Inc. principal Michael Yarne said the project will include 240 market-rate apartments, along with 13,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and a similar amount of open space.
The developer and the city are hoping the project can pass environmental and city planning hurdles by April of 2015 so Build Inc. can begin construction with a target date for completion in 2017.