A group of Anza volunteers and Community Hall board members pitched in Saturday, Feb. 25, to strip the floors of the community building in preparation for improving the floor support and tiling expected to begin this week.
The necessary renovations, required by the Riverside County Health Department, have forced the temporary closing of the Community Kitchen and Hall for at least two weeks. Many of the required improvements have been made but more is needed to keep it open.
In 2014 the County of Riverside determined that the kitchen in the Hall did not meet the criteria of a Non-Profit Kitchen and was therefore, by default a commercial kitchen. They required that the kitchen be permitted as a commercial kitchen or be closed and the Hall would have had to pay a $15,000 fine for having operated a commercial kitchen without a permit in 2014. Those conditions were all existent before this board was elected and before anyone was selling anything out of that kitchen. The renovations needed to meet those Health Department corrections would need to occur whether or not any commercial activity happened in the Hall’s kitchen, according to Bill Donahue who is managing the renovations for the Community Hall Board.
“Those conditions were all existent before this board was elected and before anyone was selling anything out of that kitchen,” Donahue said in a social media posting. “The renovations needed to meet those Health Department corrections would need to occur whether or not any commercial activity happened in the Hall’s kitchen.”
The Hall Board and community volunteers have already begun some County Health Department required renovations but ran into a problem financing the improvements. Noel Donahue, Anza Community Building, Inc., reports in a Letter to the Editor in the March 3 issue of the Anza Valley Outlook explaining in detail the problems faced by the new ACB Board in bringing the building, serving as the centerpiece of community meetings and special events, up to County health standards and now to meet Federal Government grant requirements.
An approved $162,246 Community Development Block Grant Program, the board learned, has strings attached to it that they have found difficult to meet since the CDBG grant is only paid after the recipient pays for the work themselves first and all improvements made are inspected and approved by the grantors. The board took out a $40,000 loan from the Bank of Hemet to help since the annual income from the Hall to the ACB is usually less than $50,000. It was the first time the Hall board has had to take out a bank loan, according to reports.
Every step in the renovation process needs to be documented and approved by the grantors and the major work on the building done by contractors at the prevailing wage.
“Had the Grantor allowed us to hire local contractors, paying local wages the grant amount would have left us only about $30,000 of the projected costs,” Bill Donahue explained on his social media post. “We had hoped to bridge that $30,000 shortfall with volunteer labor. However the requirement that the contractors be paid according to Federal Prevailing Wage rates means that the shortfall would be far more than $30,000. The Federal government also demanded improvements be made to the existing handicap parking and ramp before we can add the much needed ADA accessible bathroom. None of that work was in the original budget so the board of directors applied for additional funds. We have not heard if any additional funds are forthcoming.“