The Dublin City Council approved a lawsuit settlement and development agreement with Ashton at Dublin Station, LLC.

The settlement included the council’s approval of the original application. As part of the agreement, Ashton will contribute $600,000 to a community benefit fund.

The vote was unanimous, with Councilmember Arun Goel absent at the council's July 17 meeting.

Ashton sued the city after the council rejected the application at its March 6 meeting.

The project approved by the council last week includes 220 apartment units, residential amenities including a fitness center, pool, roof top lounge, and 331 structured parking spaces on an approximately 2.36 acre site.

Mayor David Haubert commented, "My reason for approval is that we did a lot of hard work to ascertain what would be the likely outcome of litigation. We found that a very costly process would not deal significantly different changes. This is the best alternative we could hope to get.”

Councilmember Abe Gupta added, “It's been an interesting few months. It's time to move past litigation and move forward. We are not going to continue to spend money that comes directly out of the money that we use to pay firefighters and police officers and keep the library open for a foolish endeavor that was not going to do much."

VALLEY CHILDREN'S MUSEUM

In another action, the council agreed to extend a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Valley Children's Museum (VCM) for eighteen months. The vote was unanimous, with a provision that the museum report to the council every two months on its progress. Staff was directed to look at other potential locations.

Currently, the proposal calls for the museum to be located in Don Biddle Community Park, located in the Dublin Crossing development on a portion of the former Camp Parks Army Base property.

An extension of the MOU was requested after the museum failed to meet the conditions of an MOU approved last August. They were to raise $1.5 million prior to July 1, 2018 in order to continue discussions regarding the construction of the museum.

Ed Duarte, VCM Board President, told the council that given the aggressive timeline they were unable to raise the money. "We underestimated the time it would take to launch a capital campaign. A consultant has been hired. The Tri-Valley is ready for a children's museum," he stated.

Duarte submitted letters of support for the extension from Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Assemblymember Catharine Baker.

Questions were raised about the suitability of Biddle Park for the museum on a prominent corner on Dublin Blvd. The lot would be empty while the fundraising effort proceeded, it was noted. Staff said the city would provide some type of ground cover, such as turf.

The planning commission had suggested that another site would be more appropriate. One possibility involved Emerald Glen Park, where the museum currently is housed in a trailer. Councilmember Janine Thalblum suggested downtown, where the museum could help activate the area.

Duarte said the museum would work with the city to adapt its design to fit in Biddle Park. He said that the location in Biddle Park would attract the most traffic. He was reluctant to consider another site.

TWO COMMISSIONS

The council agreed to table a staff proposal for a year to consolidate two commissions – Parks and Community Services, and Human Services. The council questioned whether combining the two was logical given the different roles the commissions play. Staff was directed to come up with more meaningful work for the commissions.

Staff noted that the consolidation would result in savings for three monthly stipends and related training costs for Commissioners. In addition, no staff or funds are currently assigned to the Human Services Commission.

Staff said that most of the work in support of the two commissions does not result in recommendations to the City Council. This is particularly true for the Human Services Commission, since their primary purpose is to recommend grant funding for Community Grants and Community Development Block Grants once a year. Under the proposed consolidation, no commissioner would lose his or her seat. The Parks Commission would be expanded to eight members.

Mayor David Haubert commented that he saw service on a commission as a way for residents to weigh in with their thoughts and opinions whether a recommendation comes to the council or not. "In order to approve consolidation, I would have to see a more logical nexus between them. They seem very separate and different."

Councilmember Abe Gupta said, "We have these bodies that aren't doing anything." He thought consolidation was a good idea. He later agreed to delay the consolidation for a year.

Melissa Hernandez said they are two entirely different commissions. "There is a need."

Janet Songey, chairman of the Human Services Commission, suggested that the city better utilize the existing commission rather than combine it with the Parks Commission. "We are anxious to do more if you feel it would be an asset to what you are doing." She proposed working more on a regional level, as well as holding sessions to inform Dublin residents regarding services available to them.