Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 20th
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There Goes the Neighborhood

news_BCrecProposal for a new Boulder Creek recreation center causes a controversy
The current Boulder Creek Recreation Center sits in an unassuming location behind the Fire Department. A new proposal put forth by the Boulder Creek Recreation and Park District Board of Directors would move the center into a larger space that could serve thousands more people a month and provide more programs for area teens.

But a growing number of concerned residents are saying the plan is not as peachy as it sounds. These neighbors have formed the Boulder Creek-Brookdale Coalition of Concerned Citizens,  (BCBCCC), and are up in arms over the proposal for the new multi-million dollar recreation center that would be built in a residential area on the south side of town. The building would take up nearly three-quarters of a city block, leaving the two homes not included in the purchase with backyards bordering the parking lot.

“Everyone agrees that it should be built—that there should be something for the community and there should be better services,” says Sean Woodward, spokesperson for the CCC. “It’s just a bad place for it.” The BCBCCC is trying to rally more community support against the plans and assist in locating an alternative site farther from the neighborhood.

“My main opposition is the location and the size that they are trying to build here—the largeness of it,” says Tom Rollins, a BCBCCC member. “I’ve lived here 54 years, my whole life, and this is unheard of. In the whole valley I can’t think of anything that has actually taken over a neighborhood like [this would].”

The Coalition is concerned that the facility would not only change the character of the neighborhood, but would also set a dangerous precedent for future commercial interests and attempts to rezone the area (although the Rec Board assures that rezoning would not have to take place for the facility). Members claim that other sites are available but have not been explored sufficiently by the Board, which is all volunteer and elected by residents.

Additionally, the BCBCCC says that the Recreation Board did not demonstrate due diligence in environmental testing or neighborhood involvement, but rushed the selection and design of the center in order to meet the deadline for Prop 84, a state program passed in 2006 that could provide the board with a $5 million dollar grant for the project.

“Whenever you are doing a project of this magnitude its very important that you get all the stake holders involved from the beginning,” says BCBCCC member Leonard Eaton. “They failed to communicate with anybody at all in the neighborhood.”

However, Eric Hammer, project coordinator and Parks and Recreation board member, says that the project has been ongoing for six years and has been publicized in local papers and fliers every step of the process.

“It took us two and half years to identify a piece of property that fit our needs,” says Hammer. “[Prop 84] is not what’s driving our facility. What’s driving our facility is the need in the community, the community telling us that they want a new facility.”

He adds that residents were not notified beforehand due to a condition in the letter of intent for purchasing the property that restricted notification of the public until after the letter was signed.

As for the concern that the Board did not demonstrate due diligence in terms of an Environmental Impact Report or proper soil testing, Hammer says that complete testing takes place during escrow if a final sale is determined, not beforehand, and that pre-development information was shown to the county to demonstrate that the site was viable.

Christina Horvat, district manager for Boulder Creek Recreation and Park District, also insists that the Board has been transparent and operated according to the desires of the community from the beginning, holding regular community meetings about the new center and setting up a task force to identify and oversee the acquisition process.

“We have a lot of friends that are on or near the property and then we have some opposition, which is a small percentage compared to the supporters,” she says.

The District is funded predominantly through property taxes, fees and rental income and a bequest left several years ago. The Board says the need for a new recreation center was identified through a 10 year Strategic Plan and, due to the current conditions of the property market, timing is crucial. Additionally, the Boulder Creek Fire Department, which has been leasing out the space for the current recreation center in its own facilities, has recently expressed interest in expanding its own operations into that space.

“The fire department needing to expand, us needing to expand—it’s a perfect opportunity,” says Hammer.

The deadline for committing to buy the properties is Sept. 30. The Recreation Board says it will continue to look for other suitable properties until that time, as well as explore other means of financing if they are not awarded the grant. Until then, monthly board meetings will continue to be held the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the current recreation center, where community concerns about the new center will be addressed.

“We are listening to those concerns,” says Hammer, “and are very willing to design something that, to the best of our ability, will mitigate those concerns.”

You may email them for more information at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
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Comments (9)Add Comment
written by vikki , May 15, 2010
To Clarification,
The majority of B.C. and Brookdale residents that are showing up to the B.C. rec board meetings are those against this proposed rec center site, "not" for it.
I suggest you also attend the monthly board meetings and find out for yourself. They are open to the public.

How do I know how many were showing up prior to this issue coming to light? I know because at the March 3,2010 B.C.Rec Board meeting, Director Brian Valdivia himself said that there have "never" been so many show up at the board meetings before.
written by Albinca, May 14, 2010
To Corrine,
No one said that they do not want a new rec center, you are not listening...the problem here is this, the majority of citizens in the Boulder Creek and Brookdale area does not want the new rec center in the location that the B.C. Rec Board is now planning. Since when can a board of directors of anything come in to an established, historical and residential neighborhood and plan to mow it down with out saying a word to the citizens who will be directly effected by this. Since when? This is not at all right.
written by Phil Johnson, May 14, 2010
In response to 'tovikki', reading the Prop 84 application will answer your questions about who and how many attended the 7 RJM-sponsored 'charrette' meetings in January and February, which were the only times the matter was actually discussed with the residents, if my memory serves me right. I won't break the news to you, but the double-digit numbers are there on page 37 for all to see. However, It is true that the minutes of the October, 09 - March, 10 Board meetings don't disclose how many attended. I am guessing it is right in the same ballpark - between 20 and 40,

The Coalition has gone on record stating that Nimbyimsm (sic) is not the issue here. Nor should it be. It is the less-than-candid manner in which the Board has gone about the business of deciding that a monolithic project can easily be jammed into an historical neighborhood with minimum objection that has raised the ire of neighbors and other residents alike. Frankly, the Board's actions remind me of the adage from IRS: develop the art of plucking feathers from a goose with the least amount of squawking and you will go far.

Phil Johnson
Rec Center..
written by Corrine, May 13, 2010
i think it's a fantastic idea.. i love this place, my kids love doing things there and i think it would be wonderful if more families were able to utilize this Recreation Center..i vote yay!
written by tovikki, May 12, 2010
ummmm... the majority of the BC and Brookdale residents don't know about this because they don't read the Press Banner or Sentinel? It is not possible that more people are showing up at these meetings because supporters of the rec district knows about the vocal anti- rec district folks and started appearing as a show of support? How do you know how many were showing up prior to this issue coming to light?

It is true the Boulder st folks were brought into this discussion late as the property in question came into the discussion late... Apparently nobody in that neighborhood gave a crap about the rec district prior to that... even some of these so called lifetime residents. Amazing how NIMBYIMSM motivates people.
written by Ellie Brown, May 03, 2010
Does anybody catch the wonderful irony of the title "There Goes the Neighborhood" above the photo of Eric Hammer?
written by Vikki, May 01, 2010
To view photos and learn more about the homes and community in jeopardy due to the B.C. Rec Center/Community Center planned location, please visit the Boulder Creek-Brookdale Coalition of Concerned Citizens blog at the site below.
written by Vikki, April 29, 2010
Mr.Eric Hammer states here that they, the BCRPD, publicized with papers and flyers every step of the way. This is not true. If this were true, why is it the vast majority of B.C. and Brookdale residents knew nothing about this project until the week of the B.C.Rec Boards LAST Prop. 84 planning session and follow up meeting was scheduled? That being the meeting of Saturday, Feb.13,2010. District Manager Christina Horvat herself stated in the 2/18/10 Press-Banner that they, the BCRPD, did not flier the neighborhood.
On one other note.. .since the B.C. - Brookdale community has learned about this project, there have never been as many individuals show up at the B.C. rec board meetings as there have been now. The majority of citizens attending the meetings are all citizens who are against this proposed rec center location.
A Few Corrections
written by J Bowman, April 28, 2010
Whoa Nellie! There are so many mistakes in this article that it's hard to know where to begin! 3000 visitors? Really? Who is wanting to build in the Boulder St area? The BCBCCC? The CCC? What?! The opposition to this project is small? Not so! I have been to many Board sponsored meetings about this plan and have heard both sides. The neighborhood was brought into this discussion very late in the game and by their own efforts at publicizing what was going on. This is smack dab in the middle of where they live. A multi-million dollar Rec Center complex in what is now a quiet neighborhood. They are against it being built THERE. Most people in and around do NOT want it built there. The seller of this property and the Rec board are not being up front with the neighbors or community about the whole deal. BC Rec district does not need a huge complex to the tune of 10 million. Find another site that is approriate. By the way the Park and Rec District has use of the place they are currently using until 2043!

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