Published August 19th, 2009
Moraga Town Staff Moving Back to the Hacienda How temporary will this move be?
By Sophie Braccini
Town-owned building at 329 Rheem Blvd. Photo Wendy Scheck

It was just a little note in the Parks and Recreation Department's new catalog, reading: "...the majority of Town staff to move their offices to 2100 Donald Drive," but it was enough to start a small uproar among residents concerned with the town's strategy regarding the Hacienda de las Flores (located at 2100 Donald Drive).
It is the general consensus that the beautiful historic building should become more of a community center, while town staff offices should be located at 329 Rheem Boulevard, an office building owned by the town that houses the Police Department.
"The objective is to have the Hacienda de las Flores be Moraga's Community Center and the building at 329 Rheem be the Town Hall," confirms Town Manager Mike Segrest, "but to have 329 Rheem ready for all of our staff to move in, we need to retrofit the second floor and forfeit the $52,000 that we presently get from renting some of that space. At this time, we cannot afford either." So Segrest decided to move the staff presently operating at 329 Rheem back to the Hacienda where they were previously located and where the Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments currently reside. "This is an interim move," said Segrest who hopes to be able to rent the space at 329 Rheem to increase the Town's income.
Some residents questioned the financial aspect of the move. Why move staff from 329 Rheem when office rentals in Moraga are at an all-time low? And why spend money on adapting the Hacienda for the return of staff if this is just for the short term?
Segrest explained that the repairs and improvements done at the Hacienda needed to happen whatever the final use of the building.
All the work involved in the move led the Hacienda Foundation, a volunteer body of residents dedicated to raising money for the Hacienda, to question its temporary nature.
"We were informed by the town of the coming move," says the Foundation's President, Judy Dinkle, "but we wish staff would have involved us more. We are trying to fund raise and the uncertainty makes it more difficult." Dinkle adds that the impression is that there was no thought given to how the move would impact the Foundation.
Other town groups were concerned that the town would take over space that is now dedicated to recreation activities. "That is a misunderstanding," states Segrest, "staff will only occupy the second floor of the Hacienda." He added that the town would use additional storage space in part of the Casita, but that it will not affect the activities that are held there.
"The strategy of the town has changed over the past months," says Dinkle, "it is hard to have an opinion at this time because it is not finalized. We want to try to accommodate the plans and go along with them." The Hacienda Foundation will continue to work with the Parks and Recreation Department on their next big event, the first Oktoberfest, at the Hacienda.

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