Setting it straight
I'd like to address a recent letter to the editor regarding the kitchen remodel at Vallejo Community Center. Full disclosure: I am a GVRD employee, but I'm writing to express my personal opinions and in no way am I speaking on behalf of GVRD. I feel that there were enough inaccuracies in the aforementioned letter that I couldn't stay silent.
First, the project described as building a kitchen for more crab feeds is actually a collection of upgrades that encompass retrofits to the building to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a good thing for our neighbors who might otherwise struggle to participate equitably. It will also include upgrades to the electrical service to the building, bringing it up to current safety codes. Also, yes, the tiny, existing kitchen will be remodeled and expanded. The original impetus for that idea goes back to Participatory Budgeting Committees where citizens expressed a desire for a place where youth and the community as a whole could benefit from healthy cooking classes.
The appropriation voted upon by the GVRD Board was for an amount not to exceed the engineer's total cost estimate of $669,933. The winning bid came in just under that number. Roughly half that cost is being spent on kitchen improvements, the other half going to needed electrical and ADA upgrades for the building. Importantly, this matter was voted on in November of last year, in open session at a regular meeting of the board. I don't always agree with the decisions of the board, but these are not clandestine, back-room deals happening in the shadows.
GVRD is a separate entity from the City of Vallejo, independently funded. Its charter is to provide park and recreation services to the residents of the district. It owns a handful of parks and for the most part maintains parks and buildings owned by the city, by lease agreement. GVRD is in full compliance with the Brown Act, the state law that ensures transparency from local government agencies. That means all meetings of the Board of Directors and standing committees are open to the public and the agendas for those meetings are made available at least 72 hours in advance, both online at gvrd.org and available at the main office. Minutes from all meetings can also be found on the website. Any member of the public is allowed to attend any meeting and public comment is welcome. I'd hate for anyone to feel disenfranchised because they didn't know they were free to participate. Board members are appointed by our locally elected officials, three by the Vallejo City Council and one each by the Supervisors of Solano Districts 1 and 2.
The planning for this project goes back to when GVRD had a Project Manager on payroll, before GVRD spent district money to make necessary repairs to keep open Vallejo's last public pool – which belongs to the City of Vallejo. The VCC is also city property that the district is paying to improve. The upgrades to VCC were in the works before the Nimitz Group took over and canceled the district's lease to run the Mare Island Sports Complex, at which point public assurances were made by the city and Nimitz at they would provide support in finding a replacement. I seriously doubt that GVRD would object to collaborating with the city on achieving those programming goals.
Funds Councilmember Diaz directed to GVRD were available to be spent at her discretion, not the district. If she has any doubt that they're being spent according to her wishes, she knows she can get a full accounting.
— Jeffrey Worrell/Vallejo