10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

The $90.4 million in redevelopment bonds Riverside plans to issue mainly will pay for street improvements and also will fund other projects in the city’s six redevelopment zones.

The City Council on Tuesday agreed to issue the bonds and approved a list of more than a dozen projects that would be paid for by the bond money.

The new bonds would essentially exhaust the debt capacity of the city’s redevelopment agency until either the property values in redevelopment zones grow or some of the debt is paid off, city Chief Financial Officer Paul Sundeen said.

City officials have been scrambling to commit redevelopment money due to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to abolish redevelopment agencies. Brown’s plan would not change existing redevelopment efforts.

The council in January approved in concept spending $220 million over the next two decades on a list of redevelopment projects, and it has since voted to proceed with several items from that list, such as a new downtown fire station and upgrades at the Municipal Auditorium.

With this week’s votes to issue debt and commit to more specific projects, council members sought to further remove Riverside redevelopment money from the state’s reach. The agenda item that named the projects also shifted responsibility to carry them out from the redevelopment agency to the city itself, and it transferred some agency-owned property to the city.

The city and its redevelopment agency are separate entities, both legally and financially.

“We are essentially killing a part of our redevelopment agency before the governor can do so,” City Manager Brad Hudson told the council Tuesday.

The list of projects approved Tuesday includes a $2.6 million child care center at Arlington Park, $3.2 million in upgrades and expansion of facilities at Villegas Park, a $1 million events pavilion at White Park, and a $5 million renovation of the old officers’ club at Camp Anza, a World War II-era military staging area.

Councilwoman Nancy Hart, whose Ward 6 includes the officers’ club, said Wednesday that officials haven’t decided what to use the building for, but said it’s a piece of local history that should be preserved.

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