In the ongoing discussions on how best to direct the city of Tracy’s Measure V money, the Tracy City Council on Tuesday agreed to make Legacy Fields the top priority through 2022.
It means that for at least the next year or two the city’s revenue from the half-cent sales tax, approved by voters in 2016 to fund amenities for the city, will go toward completion of the first 72-acre phase of the 166-acre sports park on Tracy Boulevard at the north end of town. The city has already spent about $33 million on the complex, which includes eight soccer fields and nine of 10 baseball fields laid out in two “wagon wheel” clusters.
Another $13 million will enable the city to complete the 10th baseball field in the eastern “wagon wheel” and pave all of the parking lots, including one that runs between the two groups of soccer field, another between the two baseball “wagon wheels” and two more between the baseball fields and the driveway that runs through the complex.
Another $4.1 million could go toward lighting at the eastern baseball fields, as well as development of an overflow parking lot.
It also means that full funding for the Ellis aquatics center at the south end of town will be delayed, pushing the existing 2026 target date for opening the full center to 2027.
In considering a series of options on how to use Measure V revenue the council agreed that demand for completion of the sports park, along with the city’s ability to get the work done in a timely manner, should make that project the top priority.
Legacy Fields opened in 2015 after the city’s initial $11.3 million investment. The original concept was for the city to provide the backbone infrastructure for the sports park with local leagues – including Tracy Little League, Tracy Babe Ruth and Tracy Youth Soccer League – to install and maintain their fields. The city has gradually taken over the entirety of the project.
The aquatics center has been in the city’s plans much longer, but it wasn’t until August 2020 that the city settled on a $65 million project, with $10 million to come from the Ellis developer, Surland Communities LLC, and the rest to come from Measure V.
The city also has a $40 million multi-generational recreation center on its list of Measure V-funded amenities to be built by 2030, but that project has yet to be designed, and the city also has not selected a location yet for that center.
The city has about $20.2 million worth of Measure V money in-hand right now, according to city finance departments figures from January. That spreadsheet also shows that just over $16.3 million has been committed to the aquatics center. City Finance Director Karin Schnaider told the city back in August that the measure was expected to bring in about $10 million per-year, but with COVID-19-related reductions in sales tax revenue that amount would more likely be about $7 million for the next couple of years.
Public sentiment expressed in a series of phone calls, email messages and the city’s live Webex online meeting app favored Legacy Fields, though some commenters stressed the need for the aquatics center as well.
Tracy Babe Ruth President Troy Camacho told the council that three youth leagues, including Babe Ruth baseball, Tracy Little League and now Tracy Express girls fastpitch softball league, think of Legacy Fields as their new home after years of playing on an assortment of fields at local schools.
“It’s completely apparent that there are more fields needed here in Tracy, more fields that our kids can actually be proud of and play on,” Camacho said. “Legacy is such a great place but it’s just not completely finished.”
He added that the design of the sports complex suggests that the city should be hosting championship tournaments, which would be a big win for the local leagues.
“The Babe Ruth organization has always been asking me to bring state tournaments to Tracy, and I’d love to be able to bring a state tournament, where I can bring 30 or 40 teams from out of town to come play here, but it’s a tough sell to do,” Camacho told the council. “The western fields look great. We’d need a few more fields to do a tournament that big, but with the unfinished parking lots, the unfinished fields on the east side it’s a little bit of a hard sell when the whole thing isn’t complete.”
Councilman Dan Arriola recommended the third of four options, which puts Legacy Fields as the top priority and also spells out how to phase in funding for the aquatics center and multi-generation recreation center.
“I thought that would be the best way to complete all of the amenities that we have currently ready and simultaneously begin discussions and pursue the multi-generational center,” Arriola said. There was also support from the council to put up some preliminary funding to plant trees for a nature park on the south side of Legacy Fields.
Schnaider explained that under the option that the council prefers Legacy Fields could be done by 2022, the multi-generational recreation center cold begin phasing in by 2023, and the city could begin phasing in the aquatics center in 2025.
“Really what you’re seeing the impacts on is the timing of when you want that aquatics center. To get them all as quickly as possible you’re looking at debt financing to get some of that done, because you won’t have enough cash,” Schnaider told the council.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian MacDonald added, “I think the goal is, one, listen to what the community is saying: finish Legacy Fields now, and then look at the aquatics center, and perhaps get the aquatics center open sooner using a phased approach, and then exploring a phased approach for the multi-generational center as well.”
Mayor Nancy Young noted that even if one project goes first, the idea behind Measure V, based on what was presented in 2016 when Tracy voters approved the measure, is that all of these amenities would be funded by the sales tax increment, and built within the 20-year lifespan of the tax.
“Every one of these touches across our community,” Young said, describing how the sports complex, aquatics center and multi-generation recreational center will each appeal to various segments of the community. “This was something we were able to sell the community on, to invest in ourselves, to invest in our community.”
“I want to just make sure that all of the voices are still heard.”
The council unanimously approved that course of action. Details on how much money will go to each project, and when that money will be committed, with be subject to further council discussion during an upcoming workshop on the capital improvement project budget, scheduled for April 20.
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