Central Valley

Turlock looks to keep Carnegie on track

TURLOCK — One stalled high-profile project is going to make another more expensive.

The Turlock City Council on Tuesday night heard an update on the Carnegie Arts Center. Councilwoman Amy Bublak asked for the report on potential problems if the Public Safety Center isn't built. The two facilities are adjoining; some street work necessary for both was included in the Safety Center, the larger project.

The state took $3.3 million in Turlock's redevelopment money, putting the safety center on hold while cities appeal the raid in court. In the meantime, Development Services Director Mike Pitcock said, the city will look at other funding options, including a possible public-private partnership.

But that leaves the Carnegie, the historic former library that's now an arts center, without some street improvements necessary to open.

Parking and other street improvements would cost about $130,000, Pitcock said. The city had budgeted $7.7 million for the project. Because of lower-than-expected bids, it's expected to run about $6.6 million.

"It's well within the $1.08 million (difference)" Pitcock said. "We could stay out of the $600,000 in community donations if the council so deems it."

That $600,000 was raised by a private nonprofit arts group that will run the center through an agreement with the city. The city had agreed the group could keep the money for furnishing and operations costs, as long as the project came in under budget.

"We worked with the Carnegie foundation to tell them they can keep their $600,000," Bublak said. "I didn't want it to come as a surprise if we ended up needing that money."

On a brighter note, a ground-breaking ceremony for the Carnegie reconstruction has been scheduled for 12:30 p.m. May 21. Light refreshments will be served — donated refreshments, city staff said.

With the city struggling with falling revenues, the budget for the ceremony: $0.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.