VENTURA — Edging one step closer to finding a park site on the east end of the city, Ventura officials released a report Friday that reduced the number of possible locations from 14 to six.
An earlier list weighed only the location of sites being considered. The newest list also considers the cost of buying and developing land.
With the latest criteria, the rankings have shifted, resulting in a 77-acre site at Telephone Road and Ramelli Road moving to the top of the list. The site that ranked first on the previous list, at Telephone Road and Kimball Road, moved down to No. 2.
The two top choices are followed, in order, by a 51-acre site south of Telephone Road extending east to Montgomery Avenue, a city-owned parcel of 87 acres at Telegraph Road and Petit Avenue, a 53-acre site at Telegraph Road and Wells Road and a 35-acre site north of Telephone Road at Cypress Point Lane.
In addition to ranking the sites, the latest report also lays out the cost of building a regional park.
The cost of building a park on one of these six sites--including the land, grading and improvements such as fields and facilities--ranges from $8.3 million for the Cypress Point site to $26.3 million for the Kimball Road site.
In addition, once built, it will cost about $4,000 per acre annually for maintenance, city officials said.
"This is a big-ticket item," said Everett Millais, director of community services. "This definitely needs to get some community consensus."
He said consensus would have to come not just in terms of narrowing the list to one site, but also in terms of how--and whether--the city would pay for the park.
Indeed, the cost is so high that Millais predicts the issue of whether to build a park may eventually go before the voters.
City Council members concede cost is a serious concern but emphasize that building a park is at the top of their agenda.
All three of the new City Council members--Sandy Smith, Brian Brennan and Donna De Paola, who will be sworn in Dec. 1--repeatedly stated during this fall's election campaign their belief that a regional park is needed on the city's east end.
"When the new council lays out their priorities formally in public, an east-end regional park is going to be a priority," said Councilman Jim Friedman.
Mayor Jack Tingstrom said he thought new business at the auto mall, downtown and along Victoria Avenue would help bring in the tax revenues needed to move forward.
Friedman said he would still be interested in swapping the city's 87 acres--with some housing allocations attached--for another site more centrally located. Selling that land with housing allocations--or swapping it--would generate $12 million to $15 million, he said.
But because the 87 acres are designated as farmland, the site cannot be developed without voter approval, according to a farmland-preservation initiative passed by voters in 1995.
Friedman said he hopes the council can pick a final site by spring. Several council members said they would like to see the council narrow the list of six sites to three or four at Monday night's council meeting.
Councilman Steve Bennett cautions that narrowing the list too much could cause landowners to boost their prices--so he advocates keeping the list to at least three or four.
But council members said some sites, such as the 35-acre parcel at Cypress Point Drive, may be eliminated immediately because they are too small.
If the City Council gives the go-ahead, city staff members will start talking with property owners after Monday's meeting.
City officials and council members alike stressed that the issue should be weighed carefully, because the final decision of where to put the park will long-term effect on the city.
Councilman Ray Di Guilio, a longtime advocate of an east-end park, says his goal is to get the park for the city by 2000.
"The new millennium would be a great time to open that park," he said. "That is my dream."