The Dublin City Council has unanimously agreed to proceed with converting the two-story former police services building behind City Hall into a cultural arts center.
The council voted for the project at its regular May 19 meeting, but wanted to review project costs and potential financing in a future meeting.
Councilmembers and staff said residents anticipated such a facility for years. The city initiated plans in 2016. However, since a consultant’s 2016 budget estimate is $4 million short of a current realistic price tag, the city will need to dig into various funds to finance the project.
One fund, which would provide more than $3 million, had been set aside in the General Fund for expansion of the cemetery at Dublin Heritage Park However, the council later agreed not to expand it, said City Manager Linda Smith. Another potential source involves the city’s Information Technology Fund.
Vice Mayor Arun Goel said the plan “shows what a true community space can be.”
“We are not comparing (the proposed black box theater) to the Bankhead,” said Mayor David Haubert, referring to Livermore’s performing arts center. “It’s closer to what Pleasanton Firehouse has, and even that is bigger and has a high stage. It has a different feeling. We’ll have the best Black Box we can make.”
Dawn Merkes, a representative from Group 4, the city’s new consultant, noted the black box could have a maximum capacity of 150. Another seat configuration with round-table seating would give it 130 maximum. For lectures with people along tables facing the speaker, it would top out at 75.
Councilmember Melissa Hernandez liked the variety of rooms in a slide showing the floor plans.
“The community has been waiting for this for a long time,” she said. “I feel the black box theater will bring in revenue. (Other) cities have theaters; we deserve a nice one.”
Other rooms include visual arts displays and locations for pursuing such semi-outdoor pursuits as pottery, complete with a kiln.
Dublin Names June Gay Pride Month
On another item, the council unanimously passed a resolution supporting June as Gay Pride Month. The motion was made by Councilmember Shawn Kumagai, and seconded by Councilmember Jean Josey. Both gave strong speeches last year, when for the first time, Dublin flew the Rainbow Flag, which originated in the Gay Freedom Movement.
Two audience members in the shelter-in-place virtual audience spoke — one on each side of the issue.
“We need a flag to show we are here, we exist,” said one man, who attended the June 2019 council meetings during which time the decision was made. “We need to show people that if they ‘come out,’ they are supported in the community.”
But a woman who also attended the two meetings last year spoke in opposition to hanging the flag.
“It is not the government's purpose to put one group over another,” she said. “You are telling me the U.S. flag is not good enough. That shows a preference for LGBT versus the rest of us who don’t agree with their agenda.”
Kumagai explained the council’s decision last year was based on feedback from the community.
“It’s our right, as a governing body,” he said. “We will continue to exercise it. We are all covered by the U.S. and California flags. It is additive, not divisive.”