An artist’s rendering of a proposed event center for downtown Antioch on the lot bordered by Second, Third and E Streets.
By Allen Payton
This week, Joy Motts, one of the leaders of an effort to turn the old Antioch Lumber Company lot into a park and event center, in downtown, known as “Save The Yard,” filed the necessary papers for an initiative to help make that a possibility.
Entitled “An Ordinance of the People of the City of Antioch Designating the Old Beede Lumberyard Site as a Town Square,” the initiative pre-empts the expected action by the City Council to sell the parcel to a developer who could build up to 18 housing units per acre on the 2.5 acre site, instead of waiting for the vote and filing a referendum.
Last June, a majority of council members, including Mayor Wade Harper, Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock and Council Member Mary Rocha, indicated that they would support allowing the group of Antioch residents to move forward on a possible park and event center on the property, and the council voted 5-0 to give it the designation of mixed-use which would allow for it. It would also allow for retail, commercial and residential uses on the property.
But, then during a closed session on August 25th, the Council voted 4-1, with Ogorchock dissenting, to direct City Manager Steve Duran to negotiate with a developer to sell that parcel and eight others the city owns in downtown. (See article, here).
Created with the help of an attorney, according to Motts, the ordinance, if passed, states the park and event center would include “a large gazebo or similar amenity along the river, or with a view of the river, which…could be the site of summer concerts and other performances.”
Known as “The Rivertown Town Square Ordinance,” it further states that the “general plan designation (of ‘Rivertown/Urban Waterfront’) also encourages recreational uses such as bocce ball and lawn bowling courts; provision for family activities for all ages; and an emphasis on historical recognition.”
Planned for the November, 2016 election, the supporters will need to get signatures of 10% of the registered voters in Antioch, which is about 4,600, according to Motts.
“But we’re hoping to get about 6,000 signatures to make sure we have enough valid ones,” “We don’t want to come up short. So that’s our goal.”
According to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, “They will have 180 days from the day I approve their petition” to gather the required signatures.
Other proponents of the initiative, according to Motts, are Antioch downtown businessman Jim Lanter and Wayne Harrison, President of Celebrate Antioch Foundation, which has organized the annual Antioch July 4th Celebrations since 2013.
“We have a lot of citizens and business owners from all over the Antioch community on our committee,” Motts shared. “We’re asking people to donate to support the effort.”
For more information on the plans for the park and event center, as well as the initiative effort visit www.savetheyard.com.
Click here to read the ordinance. Final Initiative Ordinance
Following is the complete text of the Notice of Intent to Circulate, prior to submission to the City Clerk:
Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition
Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9202
Notice is hereby given by the person whose name appears hereon of their intention to circulate the petition within the City of Antioch for the purpose of giving the voters a chance to adopt the attached ordinance to designate the Old Beede Lumberyard Site as a Town Square. A statement of the reasons for the proposed action contemplated in the petition is as follows:
The City of Antioch has embarked on an effort to revitalize its original core downtown-known as Rivertown-through a Rivertown Specific Plan. Prior to this, in a separate action that did not include public input, the city designated several city owned parcels within Rivertown for sale to a developer through an RFP or Request for Proposals process as a way to bring more residents, foot traffic and business to the area. The largest of these parcels is the Old Beede Lumberyard.
This site sits within one block of the founding place of Antioch, is the focal point entering historic Rivertown from A Street and Southeast Antioch, and provides unparalleled panoramic views of the Delta. Because of its historic location and proximity to Rivertown businesses, we believe its highest and best use to be as an event center, town square, and multi-use park that will fulfill Antioch’s General Plan request for development of such a venue.
By adopting this ordinance, the City of Antioch will forever provide its citizens with a link to its history, a connection to its Delta environment, the people needed to revitalize Rivertown’s economy, and an unsurpassed location for gathering and celebrations.
NOTE: The proposed ordinance is attached and the $200 refundable fee enclosed as required by Elections Code Section 9202.