Athletic facility refunding OKd

Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees Tuesday unanimously approved refunding Costa Mesa's contribution to the creation of a sports facility at Costa Mesa High School.

The decision leaves the city with no claim over the sports facility and all-weather track and field until a joint-use agreement is signed, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

The city and school district have joint-use agreements for several facilities, meaning the district can use them for educational purposes during the day and the city can use them at night, said city Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz.

"With the nature of the project now being a dedicated district sports facility rather than a joint-use facility with the city of Costa Mesa, it is now appropriate to recognize and appreciate the efforts of the city and to refund the $15,000 contribution to the joint-use proposal," states a district staff report approved by Paul Reed, the district's deputy superintendent and chief business official.

The district will not determine whether a specific usage agreement will be put into place until after the facility is constructed. Currently, the Jim Scott Stadium at Estanica High School does not have a specific usage agreement with the city and the facility remains under control of the district, Boss said.

"Use is still available to the city and its programs. However, they are scheduled through the district as deemed appropriate," she said.

In March, the city and Newport-Mesa entered into an agreement to study the construction and joint use of a stadium or athletic facility at Mesa for educational and community purposes.

The city chipped in $15,000 for the study, the staff report stated.

However, in June the school board learned that the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Successor Agency and the County of Orange Redevelopment Successor Agency were being dismantled as part of the state's efforts to dissolve such entities and distribute their assets to local government bodies. This provided Newport-Mesa with $25 million for capital improvement purposes.

The board budgeted $7.4 million out of those funds for the sports facility during a meeting in September.

"The receipt of the capital improvement funds from the dismantled redevelopment agencies opened the door to the district building a dedicated sports facility at Costa Mesa High School from its own resources," the report stated.

Trustee Katrina Foley expressed gratitude to the city for its willingness to contribute to the project.

"I want to thank the city for initiating the conversation," she said. "If it wasn't for that, we probably wouldn't be where we are now."

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