Measure J Commission has list of projects — including pickleball courts — ready to consider moving forward

Community requests for a new kitchen at the Mizell Center, a gazebo for Victoria Park, help for the Plaza Theatre, and a dozen new pickleball courts are all on the list of projects a city commission hopes to recommend for funding through the regular Measure J budget as elected officials work to finalize future spending.

Driving the news: The Measure J Oversite Commission held a special meeting Wednesday evening to review a staff report listing projects it will recommend for funding. After those recommendations move forward, the City Council gets final approval.

  • The Council must adopt next year’s budget by June 30; the new fiscal year begins July 1. 

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  • Not all the Commission’s recommendations need to be decided by then, Commission Chair Jeffrey Bernstein said.

Tax money the Oversite Commission oversees — a 1% sales tax approved by voters a decade ago — pays for a wide range of projects, including annual road maintenance. A small portion is set aside for community-initiated projects. Applications open in the fall.

  • Nearly 60 public requests for funding under the smaller budget were received this year. Some of them will move forward, including many proposals for improvements at parks.

    • The report discussed Wednesday evening states that the Commission wants eight of the community-initiated projects funded through the main Measure J budget.

By the numbers: Those eight projects are estimated to cost $4.4 million by the citizens who submitted them. The costs have not been vetted by city staff.

  • Not so fast: Just because the projects are recommended for funding doesn’t mean they will be complete soon. For example, the construction of 12 new pickleball courts would only get underway with the funding.

    • “Bathrooms at Victoria and Ruth Hardy parks were first conceived in 2018,” Commissioner Naomi Soto reminded her fellow Commission members and the public. “Those took several years to begin. I understand that pickleball is exciting and growing in popularity, but in the scope of things, remember these projects take several years.”

Budget projections show the total Measure J funds available for all projects is robust — estimated to be more than $30 million.

  • Among the significant projects the Measure J Commission is prepared to commit funds to, according to the report, are a main library remodel, a fire tower training facility, work needed to start construction of a roundabout in South Palm Springs, and upgrades to the city’s convention center.

View the complete list of projects the Commission discussed Wednesday evening in the staff report.

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