TURLOCK -- Neighbors of Turlock High School, arts supporters, longtime city residents and football fans came to the City Council meeting Tuesday night with one message: Don't spend city money to renovate the high school's football field and track.
The City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, listed nearly $3 million to install an all-weather track and field at Joe Debely Stadium among its projects to be funded this year. The Turlock Unified School District board last week voted to pursue the money.
Although the item was not on Tuesday night's agenda, residents chastised the council for considering the project.
Dana Vaughan brought a display of photographs of other areas of the city that need work, including a lack of sidewalks in some areas of town, poor roads and houses in disrepair.
Soraya Fregosi, who sits on the planning commission, said the city has plenty of projects that should come ahead of the field. And with the state threatening to take more than $3 million from Turlock's RDA money to balance its budget, "$2.8 million redirected for a football field is not something I can get my head around."
Mark Knapp, whose son played football in a youth league and for Turlock High School, called the stadium upgrade "a want, not a need."
Several speakers said the money would be better spent on the Carnegie Arts Center, an RDA project that has been a decade in the making. Although the council "placemarked" $3 million for that project, members rejected all bids after a lawsuit was threatened.
Tony Rojas took the council to task for discussing the Carnegie bids in closed session at its last meeting.
"Discussions regarding the Carnegie should be brought out into the public," he said. "You owe it to the community to be open with them."
The council took no action, but Mayor John Lazar thanked those who came forward for their comments. "We'll note them for future discussion when these matters come back to us," he said.
City Manager Roy Wasden said after the meeting that the RDA will have a workshop in October on its projects and bring results to a City Council meeting in November.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2343.