Two years ago, I wrote about Sejal Hathi, a Fremont teen who founded an international nonprofit called Girls Helping Girls to provide resources and empower women and girls in other countries to become educated and financially independent.
Now a student at Yale, Hathi is one of three finalists for the “PEOPLE All-Stars Among Us” title, presented by Major League Baseball and People magazine. If she wins, she’ll be honored at the July 13 All-Star game in Anaheim. To vote for your favorite “all-star,” visit the fan section of oaklandathletics.com through June 20.
I spoke to City Manager Fred Diaz today, and I called him too close to my deadline.
A few things:
On how much money the city has spent on the new baseball plans:
Between $90,000 and $100,000 — mostly on consultants who had helped the city with the previous plan and mostly on analyzing the infrastructure costs.
On the estimated $62 million in infrastructure costs:
“We think it’s a wise investment with our without Major League Baseball,” he said.
On buying the land:
Some outside agent, quite possibly the county, would have to help buy the land and help with infrastructure.
On a new concept that has more public money:
Diaz said the Pacific Commons plan included rezoning 125 acres to residential, which would have generated a lot more money for the team.
On whether this was done in secret:
“I informed the council what I was doing. “I told them I though it was a great idea and a whole lot of opportunities could come out of it. This was such a good idea that staff worked hard to preserve the option for the council.”
On how it went down:
He said the city had mostly talked with MLB about the breakdown of the Pacific Commons plan until Toyota announced in August that NUMMI would close. The city was working on the approach in mid November when baseball told them that they had to have the approach submitted by the end of December, Diaz said. By the time the city had determined that the infrastructure costs weren’t deal killers it was December and the council was going on break, he said.
On the recommendation for a non-binding vote:
“We think that people ought to way in,” he said. “It’s really a political recommendation on my part. A lot of what I heard is that people didn’t have an opportunity to weigh in.” He said there was a lot of support for a stadium.
When Fremont built its three-story police headquarters right next to the Hawyard fault about 14 years ago, it was supposed to withstand a powerful earthquake.
But a recently released city report found that in a significant earthquake the building could partially collapse. And in a really major earthquake there would be “a significant global probability of collapse.”
The most prone part of the building is the second level. The penthouse atrium is less prone.
The cost to retrofit the building is estimated at between $5.3 million and $11.2 million, depending on how thorough a job the city wants done. Fremont has already put the project on its wish list for the federal stimulus package.
You have to figure no one at City Hall is going to be happy spending millions to retrofit a building that was completed in 1995.
I still don’t know much about the history of the building. Apparently the contractor put in a low bid, and then couldn’t deliver, so costs kept climbing. It was already under construction when the Northridge quake hit, which apparently demonstrated that the police building’s construction was faulty.
More on this in a few weeks.
So the A’s aren’t coming to that mostly untapped expense of land that hugs Warm Springs and Weibel. And NUMMI is no guarantee to stay.
What should go there? If NUMMI’s in the picture, it won’t be homes, but I can name two elected officials who have told me they see NUMMI taking a hike and that chunk of land as Fremont’s future downtown.
You don’t get a BART station these days without planning for some type of intensive development. What should it be? Something like Sabercat with six story buildings? A sprawling R&D campus? Twenty-four-story towers that they want to build next to Union City’s BART station?????????
That was the chant that went out at the Saddle Rack tonight where about 125 people attended a pro-stadium rally, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
A few folks still held out hope that the A’s would give Fremont a second chance. Several others said they thought it was a dead duck.
I saw Dirk Lorenz there, but didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Councilmember Bill Harrison was also in attendance, as was the mayor, who took some time to address all of the negative anonymous comments that have been posted to local blogs. I’ll post his thoughts tomorrow.
Meanwhile, below are a couple of photos of the event. My story will post to the web site tonight and be in the paper tomorrow.
UPDATE: NOON: Here’s the three-page letter from the A’s. (pdf)
Statement by A’s Owner/Managing Partner Lew Wolff
Regarding Attached Letter Sent to Fremont Mayor & City Council:
“After much consideration, today we informed Mayor Wasserman and City Council members that the Oakland Athletics will cease efforts to relocate our franchise to the City of Fremont.
“I expressed my regrets and gratitude, especially to those people who shared our vision and spent endless hours in support of our proposal. However, it became increasingly clear that our ballpark project faced significant delays ahead and I could not, in good conscience, continue to lead our team down this path.
“My focus now is on baseball with Spring Training and the opening of the 2009 season. I am extremely excited about the team’s prospects this year.
My goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California. This goal has not changed.”
My sense covering Fremont for 18 months was that the passion of the A’s was just an outgrowth of the passion of the sales tax dollars, which, given the way California cities are funded, has understandably been priority numero uno.
It seemed the A’s represented a chance to turn the tables. After years seeing Fremont residents spending their money in NewPark Mall and buying lots of cars at the auto dealerships down the road, the ballpark village, in the eyes of its supporters, would bring thousands of people from the East and South Bay to spend their money in Fremont. A dream come true for city folks who have been dealing with tight budgets for decades. (I know there are also costs that go with hosting a major league team; maybe it would have been a bust?)
But when I asked the mayor last week why he supported the A’s, he said it was more than dollars and cents.
“It establishes you as a city. As an important city,” he said. “It makes your city a city that’s known nationwide. It makes your city one that a lot of people desire.”
For a moment, it seemed like the pro A’s rally might not happen, but it is on. A rally in support of the A’s move to Fremont is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Saddle Rack, 42011 Boscell Road.
The drinks aren’t free.
With the Fremont Chamber of Commerce moving forward with a 5:30 p.m. pro-Oakland A’s rally Wednesday at the Saddle Rack, chamber member Dirk Lorenz is asking his friends to attend.
But Lorenz is also a Planning Commissioner. And, if the A’s move forward with their Fremont ballpark plan, it will have to go to the commission for review. It seems that Lorenz would be inclined to favor a the team’s project. His email is below.
From: Dirk Lorenz
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2009 2:12 PM
Subject: Fw: Message re the A’s! Don’t Let Fremont be Left on the
Folks… let’s not let history repeat itself. Let’s not let this slip through our fingers. From the standpoint of economic development and jobs in OUR community…plan on attending the Saddlerack event mentioned below. If you want to see the A’s locate in their original Pac Commons site… If you want to see an upscale shopping village with retailers similar to those seen in Santana Row and elsewhere….
this is the event not to be missed. Please spread the word…we want jobs and exciting retail in our community. Remember, a rising tide floats all boats…. this development will bring much more than just what the A’s have planned… successful retail generates sales tax that funds police, fire and maintenance services in our entire community. Please show your support by attending this Saddlerack event! Please pass it on.
Below is an email from Nina Moore — formerly a school board director and now the director of government and community affairs for the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
The crux of the email, which has already been posted on an anti-stadium site, is that A’s supporters haven’t given up and are turning their attention back to Pacific Commons as a ballpark site.
Moore said the email was to update the chamber board on the latest news she had. “It’s more of a statement of this is the situation, let’s make sure we don’t lose the opportunity to thave the A’s in Fremont,” she said.
Here is the email:
As you may have surmised, things are looking dim for the A’s move to
Fremont. The stadium at Warm Springs is almost certainly dead, but
we want to make sure that we make every effort to keep the A’s from
giving up on Fremont altogether. I wanted to update you on several
positive actions we are planning.
First, we are working with Audrey Scott of Vida y Vino to get the
Pacific Commons retailers who are supportive of the A’s Ballpark
Village proposal to communicate that once more to the A’s and to
ProLogis. We are organizing a meeting with the retailers at 9:00
Tuesday morning, February 24th, and plan to have a petition for them
to sign at that meeting.
We are also working with the A’s to Fremont support group to organize
a rally at the Saddle Rack in Fremont on Wednesday evening, February
25th, 5:30 pm. Continue Reading