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Boys & Girls Club aims to address airport safety concerns

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Faced with potential headwinds over building a new North Auburn clubhouse in the Auburn Municipal Airport flight zone, the Auburn Boys & Girls Club is attempting to find common ground with the Airport Land Use Commission. A multi-governmental, countywide board that has taken a firm stance on projects that don't fit into flight zone safety specifications, the commission is set to consider a plan that would have staff initiate a collaborative effort with the Boys and Girls Club. Our primary goal is to keep the kids safe, said Randy Tooker, an official with the club. We want a safe, positive place for kids. Other stakeholders would also be brought into discussions to address and alleviate airport compatibility concerns with the proposed multi-purpose building, Senior Planner Stan Tidman said. Airport Land Use Commission staff has been working with the 1,200-member club since last spring on compatibility issues for what is envisioned early in the process as an 18,000-square-foot building. The proposed Regional Park site, located on what is now a grassy area between the park's tennis courts and Lakeside Room, would be less than a mile from the runway's west end. The majority of multi-purpose building occupants would be children that could have difficulty responding to an emergency, Tidman said. Children's schools are prohibited in the extended approach and departure zone the clubhouse site would be located on and the proposed use has many school-like characteristics, Tidman said. Planning business Mead & Hunt, which serves as land-use compatibility consultant for the commission, could be retained by the commission and funded by the club to assist on an application package. A work group to study the issue could include the Boys and Girls Club, the city of Auburn, Placer County, Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, and other stakeholders. Tooker, Boys & Girls Club chief professional officer, said that the club's original home was in Regional Park's Lakeside Room and a 100-year lease on the land for the clubhouse was signed at the time in 1994. While no time frame or fund drive has started on the new clubhouse, the Boys & Girls Club wants to move forward with an application for a use permit, Tooker said. That's why we're getting together “ to ensure we have a site that fits the uses it's allowed, he said. The club currently leases a Downtown Auburn building for both its headquarters and main clubhouse. It also has after-school programs at Auburn's E.V. Cain and Rock Creek schools. The new clubhouse would address growth in North Auburn but none of the other sites would be closed, Tooker said. We want to expand our services and reach more kids in North Auburn, he said. Two previous proposals “ one for a 121-unit apartment facility and another for a church school that would have been located across Richardson Drive from the Boys & Girls Club's possible new clubhouse “ were opposed by the majority of land use commission members. The land-use commission also sits as the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency board. Its next meeting will take place 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Placer County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 175 Fulweiler Ave., Auburn. The club's proposal is on the agenda. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.