Pool, library improvements to get bond funds

CITY HALL – The City Council on Tuesday authorized the Redevelopment Agency to issue an additional $20 million in bonds to help pay for library improvements, a new adult recreation center, soccer field and public swimming pool.

Construction on the long-awaited replacement for the Adult Recreation Center is scheduled to break ground next week after the City Council in March authorized a $7.92-million contract to build the 19,100-square-foot facility. More than a decade in the works, the building would roughly double the size of the existing center and significantly redevelop the block bordered by Brand Boulevard, and Colorado, Louise and Harvard streets.

Plans for a new $6-million, six-lane public pool at Pacific Park represents a pared-down option from last year that included an eight-lane, competition-ready, $10-million concept. City Council members last year said they could not justify such a grand design given the harsh economic landscape.

The city has been without a public swimming pool since 2003, when the block was redeveloped as part of a joint project with the Glendale Unified School District to build Edison Elementary School.

Council approval also means that plans for redeveloping the Glendale Public Library and a $3.5-million soccer field at Columbus Elementary School will soon get underway.

Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame said the bond issues, through the Redevelopment Agency, would not affect the general fund. “The tax code allows us to adopt it,” he said. “The benefit would be you could use government money to make these improvements while relieving the general fund of that expense.”

City Manager Jim Starbird agreed that using the Redevelopment Agency bonds would free up other money.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Mayor Frank Quintero said.

Also on Tuesday, the City Council agreed to appropriate more than $5 million in federal stimulus money for unemployment workforce training, homeless shelter and other programs, locking the city under tight spending deadlines.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, stimulus funds must be completely spent by June 30, 2011.

Jess Duran, assistant director of the Community Development and Housing Department, stressed the urgency of having a plan in place as soon as possible.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires cities to submit their homeless prevention plans by Monday, with other plans to follow as quickly as possible.

“We really need your view and approval to achieve this,” Duran told the council.

Director of Community Development and Housing Madalyn Blake said she believed that there was a good strategy in place for effectively using the money.

“We have the opportunity to leverage these funds,” she said.

With more than 90 California companies laying off workers, Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, highlighted the importance of training people for jobs that will exist in the future.

He said the plan focused on health care, entertainment and green technology industries.

“There could be a lot of work coming through later in the year,” he said of the entertainment industry.

An A3 story on Wednesday titled, “Pool, library improvements to get bond funds,” incorrectly said the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, issued $20 million in redevelopment bonds. The agency actually authorized the groundwork for repayment if and when the bonds are issued. Consideration of that move is expected this summer.

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