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Alameda’s St. Joseph Community Seeks 15 year Development Extension

By Erica Madison

On Nov.23, 2009, Planning Staff member Laura Aiello asked the Planning Board members to grant the longest planning extension in history of Alameda.

The planning staff along with the St. Joseph master plan committee, presented a report that asked for Planning Board members, to grant the St. Joseph master planned development an extension of 15 years. This request would result in the St. Joseph master plan project, ending in 2024.

The original master plan was granted on Nov. 30, 1999. The Planning Board at that time gave the St. Joseph master plan committee ten years to complete a list of projects, that would redevelop the St. Joseph neighborhood to include the surrounding high school and elementary school. The current master plan ends November 30, 2009.

According to Aiello, only half of the project has been completed.

“I noticed that any part not completed by the due date requires a new master plan,” said Planning Board Vice-President Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.

If the Planning board members don’t approve the amendment, the original agreement stipulates that at end of ten years the project will require a new master plan.

“Is the request to extend the due date an equivalent of a new plan approval?”, said Planning Board Vice-President Ezzy Ashcraft.

This request would modify that condition.

In order to avoid the close scrutiny of a new master plan, the St. Joseph planning committee is trying get around this stipulation, by asking the Planning Board members to grant them a fifteen year extension to complete the other half of the project.

“The master plan is the blue print for future development. The build out date is the only thing that will be changed and need approval.” Said Aiello

Even though the Planning Board would amend the original agreement, each remaining project will be subject to a review for planning and building permits. The projects are also required to send out public notifications.

“Economically, this was a bad decade for the project”, said Aiello.

When the plan was originally approved in 1999, no one knew there would be a dotcom bubble burst.

Andrew Reid, master plan coordinator for St. Joseph community planned development, explains: “In the last 9 years we have worked diligently to raise money for the build out. It’s been more difficult to raise money than anticipated, however since 2001-2008, we have raised over nine million dollars.”

With this money they have built an elementary school playground, music center for high school and elementary school, and renovated the high school library.

“Based upon planning board, public works and neighbors of the community comments the construction is going well”, said Reid.

If they continue to raise $1 million for 15 years, they will be done in 15 years, because the new budget for the project is estimated to cost $15 million more..

Reid reminded counsel that the master plan committee has kept up to date with guidelines, and developed traffic systems for managed events.

“Granting this approval, will allow us to modernize services for students and neighbors, such as creating globally efficient buildings”, said Reid.

“It would be a shame to let harsh economic times destroy such a great investment in Alameda,” said Reid.

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