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City moves again to redevelopment protect funds

The City Council this week voted to move $9.5 million in redevelopment revenue to pay for public projects, including a revamped park and roadways, as part of an ongoing effort to protect the money from possible budget raids by the state.

The council’s decision comes two weeks after authorizing the transfer of agency-owned property and $13 million in Redevelopment Agency debt to the city as Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to dissolve the local agencies as part of his budget plan.

This time, the council allocated the money to Johnny Carson Park renovations, and revamped portions of the North San Fernando Boulevard and Victory Boulevard corridors. Officials also moved to pursue a new youth center.

City officials lobbied for the fund transfers, saying the projects were in dire need of the money that could be redirected to Sacramento if Brown gets his way. They also pointed out that the city had already started allocating money to the projects.

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But Councilman David Gordon, who was the lone vote of dissent, warned the rush to reallocate the money could come back to haunt Burbank.

“The whole motivation for making these findings for continuing these projects is to get funds out of the redevelopment pool, which may come back to haunt us if the state says, ‘You can’t do that, the projects have to end because they weren’t initiated,’” Gordon said. “I know they may have been planned, but I don’t think there have been shovels in the ground for some of these.”

The $5-million Johnny Carson Park renovation — which would include new LED lighting, a new irrigation system, new play structures and an expanded picnic area — still needs about $2.6 million, even after the City Council on Tuesday allocated an additional $500,000 to the project.

Work on the North San Fernando Boulevard and Victory Boulevard corridors would include transit, pedestrian and bicycle improvements and landscaped islands.

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But in order to move forward with the proposed Lundigan Youth Center — a joint venture between the city, the Boys & Girls Club and Burbank Housing Corporation — the council must hold a public hearing because the project is outside the redevelopment area.

Officials recommended scheduling the public meeting in order to allocate $5.8 million from an account for youth programs.

“While each organization has a distinct mission and strengths, there is an opportunity to collaborate and create a partnership among these three entities in order to maximize resources and minimize overlapping of services,” said Maribel Leyland, senior redevelopment project manager.

The existing site for the Boys & Girls Club on Buena Vista Street — a significant catch-all for after school youth — is “aging and inadequate” for its current programming and does not allow for expansion, according to a city report.

The public hearing for the joint-youth center is scheduled for April 19.

“It’s just the redevelopment agency paying for a project that’s already been identified, is already on the books and is moving the money into the city fund to execute the project,” said Councilman Dave Golonski. “In the event redevelopment is wiped out, the money is theoretically in a city fund and the project could continue.”

The fund transfers on Tuesday likely won’t be the last as city officials seek to protect redevelopment revenues to pay for public improvements.

During budget talks for the next fiscal year, the Redevelopment Agency plans to ask the City Council to transfer funds for projects on the radar, including $1.55 million in downtown street improvements, $4 million for the remaining components in the Olive Avenue Corridor Infrastructure project and $100,000 for building demolition.
 

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