Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Loni Hancock and State Assembly Member Nancy Skinner were all on hand for the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Emeryville Center of Community Life back on October 16th. Also in attendance were Alameda County Superintendent Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Emeryville Unified School Board President Melodi Dice, and Emeryville Mayor Ruth Atkin. Emeryville City Television (ETV) has produced a 25 minute video hosted on the City YouTube page, that captures the ceremony and the speeches given by local politicians & agency representatives.
Photo Credit: Jeff Gee on Twitter
The Emeryville Unified School District and the City of Emeryville are collaborating on a full-service “Community Hub”, where the school district and City work cooperatively to improve access to learning and opportunities to all members of the community through a community center and school complex. This all culminates with the Emeryville Center of Community Life, a project that took twelve years to plan and just broke ground in October.
The project replaces Emery High, built in 1964, and is anchored at the 53rd & San Pablo intersection. The groundbreaking took place on October 14th but demolition began almost a year earlier and the soil has been undergoing unanticipated remediation by the DTSC. The project, when complete, will consist of a K-12 school, health center, library and a recreation center for teens and seniors. The new center comes with a price tag of $90 million dollars (Whittled down from it’s previous $200 Million redevelopment era budget) of which $70 million will be paid by the School District and $20 million by the City. Emeryville voters approved a property tax-funded bond in 2010 that will cover the city portion of the construction costs.
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There were two major hurdles that the project faced since its conception. First, the legality of having a center that incorporated schooling and community services was not legal in the State of California. Heavily aided by Senior Assembly Member, Nancy Skinner, AB1080 was introduced and passed in 2009. Specifically, the bill authorizes school districts to enter into leases and agreements relating to real property and buildings to be used jointly by the district and a local government agency, as defined. The second hurdle was the dissolution of redevelopment funding in California in February of 2012. This stroke eliminated the funding that the state previously earmarked for the ECCL previously. After months of negotiation, the City was able to retrieve the allocated funding of $21 million from the State’s Department of Finance. The project would be the first of its kind and in many cases, it would be a model for future “full service community centers”.
Emeryville began this vision because of its small size (the City consists of 1.2 square miles) and lack of families with children. The City decided to consolidate its resources and develop a place where the community could benefit as well as rebuild the current secondary school. This new center adds services for adults and seniors as well as children and teens. It also would develop the much-needed library that the town needs. The new swimming pool would also become the second community pool for the City, the first being located in the Marina district at Watergate. “The whole idea is to wrap our arms around residents from infants to seniors.” mentioned City Manager Sabrina Landreth in this Inside Bay Area report.
The Nexus Partner project Timeline:
During construction, Emeryville’s high school classes are held in Oakland’s Santa Fe Elementary School on 54th & Market. K-8 classes are being held at Anna Yates on 41st and Adeline. Naturally, the highest priority for the ECCL is to get the High School facilities ready as soon as possible. That portion, along with the gym and swimming pool, is projected to be completed by December of 2015.
The project has been riddled with controversy along the way including the elimination of a proposed bike path and the desire by many parents to retain Anna Yates Elementary which will ultimately be absorbed by the ECCL. Of the 800 children in the EUSD system, a reported 40% are from Oakland. A figure that can vary and be as high as 75% according to EUSD Superintendent Dr. John Rubio. The EUSD has historically relied on out-of-district transfers to fill its classrooms because of the lack of school-aged families within our own borders. The ECCL will accommodate 1200 students at complete build out. Periodic updates on the project can be read on the official Center for Community Life Website →
Further Reading & Resources:
Emeryville: $90 million project combines schools, city services | InsideBayArea.com →
This Is What It Looks Like When A School Becomes A Community Hub | Fast Co Exist →
Emeryville Center of Community Life | Concordia →