Building a field at the Civic Center will take longer, and cost more, than predicted according to a staff report for Council’s Oct. 25 meeting.

Council directed staff to begin work on a potential field at the site in May of this year and the first quarterly update on the project will occur next week. Staff are asking council to provide direction on preferred options for advancing the project, specifically deciding between pursuing a cheaper, temporary field or a more expensive permanent facility.

City Hall has budged $200,000 for design of the field but companies bidding on the project submitted substantially more expensive proposals. Three firms were asked to provide costs for a feasibility/concept phase and a design development/construction phase for a temporary field. Two companies submitted bids at $423,970 and $802,800. A third company contacted to participate in the bid process declined.

Either option would also require the input of the Costal Commission, and staff have expressed reservations about the Commission’s willingness to remove parking from the Coastal zone.

“Based upon a very preliminary analysis in May, it was noted in the report that a temporary field for soccer and lacrosse (60 X110 yards plus sideline space), lighting, fencing and a temporary restroom trailer would displace approximately 430 surface parking spaces and that

replacement of the parking would need to be addressed prior to seeking Coastal

Commission approval for the field project,” said the report.

So far, construction of a new sports field has been entirely a City project despite the need stemming from a lack of fields at the adjacent Santa Monica High School. According to the report, school district staff recently approached the city to discuss a partnership on a permanent field that would include underground parking.

“Use of the field and parking along with other issues such as ownership/possessory interest rights of the improvements and land, allocation of responsibility for design and construction,

provision for interim parking for the public and City employees during construction,

financing of development, responsibility for maintenance and operations of the parking

and sports field facilities, use of parking revenues and managing a coordinated

schedule of events would need to be fully negotiated as part of any future agreement

should this concept put forward by SMMUSD staff move forward,” said the report.

Two levels of parking could be added to the site replacing about 700 of the estimated 600 that could be lost to the project.

Rough estimates for the field/parking project cost are $80-85 million. The joint project would take a minimum of four years from start to finish, extending the deadline by at least a full year.

Despite the cost and delay, the staff report said the larger project has benefits including better compliance with Coastal Commission regulations and providing parking to support other uses at the Civic site.

The City has had plans to redevelop the Civic site for years with calls for additional park space, playing fields and/or an arts facility on site. The field became a top priority in the last few years due in part to the conclusion of work by the Civic Advisory group that prepared a menu of options for council to consider for the site. During those hearings, field advocates made their case citing a lack of fields in the city generally and specifically at the nearby high school.

Council will meet on Oct. 25 in City Hall, 1685 Main St. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m.

BY MATTHEW HALL

editor@www.smdp.com