The top 5 myths about Jefferson School
In the months since the election, details of the Jefferson School project have been misreported and repeated until citizens believe the misinformation is fact. Here are the top 5 myths and the associated facts regarding the Jefferson Project
Myth 1) The Jefferson School project will adversely impact the general fund.
The General Fund is a City Account used for police, fire, street sweeping, City staff, City Attorney, and much more. No purchase money for Jefferson School is coming from the General Fund.
The Westside Community Group (WCG) has been maintaining this property completely for over a year, regardless of property ownership. They have taken responsibility for their community. They have provided security patrols, and by working with EPD, eliminated drug and gang activity at the site. They have provided 100% of landscaping and maintenance, litter removal, and playground maintenance. They have raised funds for and will replace all of the broken windows, given access to the property. This will continue after Redevelopment purchases the site.
Myth 2) The Jefferson Project is an inappropriate use of Redevelopment funds:
From The California Redevelopment Agencies Webpage:
Redevelopment is a process authorized under California law that enables local government entities to revitalize deteriorated and blighted areas in their jurisdictions.
What types of projects do redevelopment agencies take on? Redevelopment agencies breathe new life into specific project areas in need of revitalization, economic development and new opportunity by:
- Building and rehabilitating community centers, parks, libraries, public safety buildings and other community facilities;
- Revitalizing rundown or blighted neighborhoods, which can help reduce crime and increase opportunity for struggling communities; and
- Beautifying communities through landscaping, improvement of neighborhood streets and creation of greenbelts.
Myth 3) No funds are available to renovate the site.
Site control is essential before standard grants can be applied for.
A grant has been prematurely submitted, anticipating the closure of escrow, and has been denied as a result of ongoing delays in this process.
However, the WCG was awarded 2 grants in 2010, both of which may need to be returned to donors due to delays in purchase of the site.
Over $43,000 in in-kind community donations have been given and pledged for direct improvements to the property.
$140,000 worth of loans at 3% interest have been offered by local private benefactors.
A $100,000 pledge has been offered to the WCG to assist them in seeing this project through to fruition.
The Redwood Community Action Agency has directed senior planning staff to assist the WCG in procuring grant funding for retrofit and replenishment of Redevelopment funds.
The Headwaters Foundation has met with WCG and suggested that a kitchen retrofit may be a good match for a Headwaters Grant.
Humboldt Area Foundation has also expressed their willingness to assist the WCG with their grass-roots efforts.
Humboldt State University LEAP and YES as well as Vista and the CCC have expressed interest in assisting with cleanup, work parties and renovations.
The list continues to grow daily, community participation is abundant. The WCG’s hands are tied by process delays and roadblocks until escrow closes. It is not appropriate to submit grants or secure lending in advance of site control.
Myth 4) The Jefferson School Project will not bring jobs into the community.
Jefferson School is shovel-ready. The only thing standing in the way of our underemployed contractors going to work now is the city council’s vote to stop the progress with escrow.
Construction is slated to begin promptly upon escrow closure. This will immediately employ under and unemployed local craftsmen and materials suppliers.
The proposed tenant has stated they will create 35 brand new, long term, living wage jobs.
They would also like to use the building at night to provide an affordable commercial kitchen for start-up food manufacturing businesses. This type of business incubation fuels the local economy, builds a tax revenue base and creates jobs.
The tenant has also offered to rent classrooms in the evening, The American Red Cross has submitted a letter of interest indicating they would like to offer Certified Nursing Assistant and In Home Health Care Nursing classes at Jefferson. These are small specialized classes that improve the earning potential in an industry targeted for growth in Humboldt County.
The Committee has raised enough money to replace all of the broken windows and has bids from 3 Eureka glass companies to do the work. All they need is access to building to have that money flowing into the hands of local business and into the local economy, today!
Myth 5) The Committee does not have a plan.
A strategic plan was developed with SHN Consulting Engineers in August 2008.
The plan included funding sources, a needs assessment, evaluation of tenants, and construction cost estimates. The strategic plan showed this as profitable from the first day of occupancy and was projected to only increase in income over time.
The 2008 plan was reassessed by a private consultant, procured by the WCG, to update the plan to reflect the current economy. Three incoming generating options were presented to the City in that report:
- A single-tenant lease,
- a multiple tenant lease,
- and a third-party financing option.
All were profitable to the City and reviewed by a national mortgage broker to determine if lenders would be interested. They would. This is a sound economic project.
This is a build to suit lease project. The current plan is in the form of a fiscal analysis. This is what is used to assess feasibility. A business that sells a product would provide a different type of business plan. The tenant will provide yet another type of plan in order to assess its credit worthiness. We know this is complicated and we fully understand the difficulty in grasping the details of this plan. It was born of many years of work by many partners.
The friends, neighbors, community partners and supporting organizations who have worked tirelessly with the city for years on the development of this project genuinely want what is best for our community. We encourage you to reach out and become connected with the facts of this amazing opportunity for our city.