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Meeting Date: October 22, 2002

Subject/Title: Consideration of use of City-owned property at corner of Sycamore Avenue and Sycamore Court for future Village Community Resource Center.

Submitted by: Craig D. Bronzan, Director of Parks and Recreation
Report prepared by Olivia Ruiz, Recreation Services Supervisor

Approved by: John Stevenson, City Manager

Approve use of City-owned property at the corner of Sycamore Avenue and Sycamore Court for future Village Community Resource Center and direct staff to return with a Resolution indicating conditions of use.

Community and Board members of the Village Community Resource Center discussed use of two City-owned detention basins with City Council on June 12, 2001. Council directed staff to develop a plan and bring it back for further consideration.

The death of a 15-year-old boy served as a catalyst to bring the entire Brentwood community together to address the problems of the Village Drive neighborhood. Neighbors, community agencies and City officials agreed that the solutions lay within the community. Thus the first priority became rebuilding the neighborhood’s cohesion and pride by supporting youth and families through a Resource Center. In addition, this initial planning group also realized that the action plan needed to include the rebuilding of the infrastructure of the neighborhood.

The planning began on May 5, 1995 with an initial meeting between the Brentwood Police Chief and the neighbors of Village Drive, although the Police Department and neighbors had been meeting since September 1994 to find ways to reduce neighborhood crime. At this meeting it was agreed that the Homeowners Association building could be used as the resource center for the community. A brainstorming session during the meeting developed the following list of program and service needs:

 Programs to help children succeed in school
 Health services and programs for prevention of alcohol and substance abuse
 Family support programs
 Recreation programs for children and youth
 Immigration services 
 Access to city services
 Resources and information regarding existing programs and services.

Ongoing meetings with the Village Drive community helped to prioritize the program ideas to build them into the structure that would benefit the community as a whole, not just Village Drive.

The project plan was comprised of four phases:

Phase I involved rebuilding the infrastructure of the neighborhood; Phase II involved refurbishing the Village Drive Resource Center; Phase III involved the collaboration of service providers to bring needed services to the area; and Phase IV to develop a structure which ensured the continuity of the project, and facilitate the operation of the Center by the community.

In 1997, after two years of planning and fund development, the Village Drive Resource Center opened its doors to the community. During the first two years the Center worked hard to build a rapport with the community and began to bring services and develop pilot programs for residents in the Village Drive area. Initially most, if not all, of the people who utilized the Center’s resources lived in or near the Village Drive area, but as the news of the Center and its services reached the rest of the Brentwood community, the number of clients continuously increased. 

Initially between 1997 and 1999, the Center offered three programs and one community service to local residents. These included after school programs for children and youth, art classes for children, recreational activities, and translation of documents for adults. The average number of children and youth that participated in the after school programs was 20. Staff at the Center attended an average of nine adult clients on a weekly basis providing translation services. At that time Village Drive Resource Center had a total of eight volunteers.

Within the past three years the number of programs and services has dramatically increased to ten programs for children, youth and parents and twelve different services offered to residents of Brentwood. The growth in programming and services is due to an increased number of individuals who reside outside of Village Drive seeking the much-needed services not available elsewhere in Far East Contra Costa County. Currently there are fifty-five children and youth enrolled in our after school programs and thirty-two children on a waiting list to participate in Center programs. In addition, an average of twenty-five adult clients visit Village Drive Resource Center each week for services. The number of active volunteers supporting the Center has grown to over 40 adults and youth. The programs and the number of users have outgrown the current site, a 720-square foot room with one bathroom and a small kitchen.

The Village Drive Resource Center began as a local community center for the Village Drive residents, but has developed to offer its services to all of the Brentwood community. The majority of the clients that utilize the Center’s programs and services are low income, working poor families, who are isolated by culture, language, geography and class. The uniqueness of the Village Drive Resource Center is that it is one of the only programs that has been developed and designed by its own community to strengthen community relationships, provide educational and cultural enrichment, family assistance, affordable and convenient health care and has served as a advocate for the community. The Center has been able to achieve all of this through hard work in establishing relationships with many other organizations and programs in and around the Brentwood area. For example, it has built a strong relationship with the Liberty and Brentwood Unified School Districts, John Muir Mount Diablo Mobile Clinic, Contra Costa County Homeless Mobile Clinic, US Department of Labor, and other agencies. 

The Village Drive Resource Center Board of Directors and local residents realized the unique features of their own project particularly the commitment from the City of Brentwood in supporting the Center in its many different phases. Since the last City Council meeting discussion in June 2001, the Village Drive Resource Center’s Board has been discussing use of the detention basin on Windsor Way as well as and the detention basin at the corner of Sycamore Avenue and Sycamore Court. Though the Board originally thought the basin on Windsor Way would be the best location for the future building site, it has a number of issues including being surrounded by homes, accessibility from only one side, and the fact that there is no intent to fill in the basin. The basin on Sycamore has easy access from two sides, is adjacent to Windsor Park, which can be expanded around a community center building, and has fill on-site to fill the basin in when the storm drain line is complete. As a result, the Village Drive Resource Center’s Board would like to request the City’s support to utilize the two-acre property on Sycamore Avenue.

With this opportunity, the Center could begin a strategic plan to pursuit private and public funding to build a larger Center on this property. The Center’s goal is to house many of the needed programs and services from one site near the current site of the Center. Benefits of a project like this being approved are many. The City would be supporting grass root programs, provide space to accommodate other non-profit programs in the future, and increase services for the City. 

Beyond the scope of this project, it is the collective hope of the Board of Directors that the Village Drive Resource Center will attain a level of success that will enable it to serve as a model for duplication in other communities with similar needs throughout East County. 
It is staff’s recommendation that the City support the Center and grant them approval to utilize the property on Sycamore Avenue to build a larger Village Community Resource Center. 

None at this time; however, use of this property could count as a City-match on grant requests.

Village Drive Resource Center letter
Village Drive Community Resource Center Program/Service list

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