Beautiful Cambria never lacks a passion project. The current drive to build a Skate Park on Main Street to replace the one removed due to its deteriorating condition is an excellent example of the challenges of such endeavors.
What might seem like a simple, straightforward project is much more complicated than perhaps people realize. Over the recent weeks, I had multiple conversations with representatives from all parts of the puzzle, including leadership from Skate Cambria, CCSD Board members, and staff. My goal is to present a reasonably clear view of the moving pieces that make up this effort. There are levels of complexity beneath each topic, so I have added links to available details so readers can examine the same data. Here’s a simplified takeaway from those discussions.
The goal of the project’s advocates is to build a safe, accessible skate park on Cambria Services District property on Main Street, next to the Cambria Library and across the street from the Vet’s Hall. The previous community-built facility occupied the site before being dismantled due to deteriorating and unsafe conditions.
A community organization, Skate Cambria, is deeply involved in driving the project forward. Skate Cambria has done an admirable job of gaining community support, as well as skateboard-related industry interest. The group’s fundraising efforts, managed through a local non-profit, have reportedly amassed approximately $175,000.00.
The Cambria Community Services District is involved in the project for two main reasons. First, the property belongs to the District, and by extension, Cambria’s taxpayers. As a community asset under the CCSD’s jurisdiction, there is a responsibility to manage the parcel appropriately.
Second, Cambria’s PROS (Parks, Recreation, and Open Space) Commission serves as an advisory body to the CCSD Board of Directors. PROS has a limited budget and no legal authority to take action without the CCSD Board of Directors’ approval.
As always, the biggest issue the project faces is funding. The preferred location brings a host of challenges that drive costs, and therefore injects financial risks associated with uncertainty.
Based on detailed presentations from the design and engineering firm Spohn Ranch and the Project Management lead from CCSD, the current projected cost sits at Six Hundred and Sixty-One thousand dollars. This number, provided by Spohn Ranch, carries several caveats, including potential areas of cost reductions.
The Project Management presentation details the requirements from SLO County’s permitting authorities. Concerns include the need for a restroom and accessible parking for the facility. Both of these requirements have the potential to add significantly to the final project costs. There are potential approaches that could reduce or eliminate the need to build out both items. Final project requirements will be defined through Value Engineering/redesign activities and negotiations with the permitting agencies.
Skate Cambria indicates they have raised approximately $175,000.00 in donations. They continue their fundraising activities and lobbying for additional financial support from the community and other interested parties.
A potential funding source under review is a PROP 68 grant for $177,000.00. As part of the application, the District must identify the project’s cost and all funding committed to the project.
Gaining a more accurate and realistic total project cost requires significant interaction with the permitting organizations, complex project re-engineering, and aggressive negotiations among all parties to get to a final project plan. The filing deadline for the grant is December 31st, so it is a steep climb to gather all the data, crunch all the numbers, identify all the funding sources, and go through the process of budgeting and allocation of District funds.
Based on just the “known” estimated costs outlined by Mr. Spohn, the quick math is:
Estimated Project Cost – $661,000.00.
Assume the $177,000.00 grant is secured. Add the Skate Cambria funds of $175,000.00.
The difference that the CCSD would need to commit to contributing to meet the grant criteria is $309,000.00.
Remember, these figures are based on estimated costs and do not include any additional expense to meet required permit conditions. Nor do they contain any cost reductions gained through redesign and Value Engineering.
Regardless of how the project is ultimately defined, any District money must come from the general fund. That is the same pool of money that pays for the Fire Department and The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, among other things.
The Board has scheduled a special meeting for Saturday, November 20th, to discuss this project. The meeting will be available through Zoom, and the public is encouraged to share thoughts and suggestions on how to move forward. It is always better to participate in the process and make your judgments rather than rely on other people’s perspectives.
This project is a positive example of how citizens work together to meet goals that affect the larger Cambria community. Skate Cambria demonstrates the passion and commitment to the Skate Park project and the equally important job of being great role models for the community, young and old.
The CCSD Board and staff continue to do the difficult work of evaluating all the information, balancing the community’s needs, and making the hard decisions about spending limited resources most responsibly.
Beautiful Cambria in action!