Council approves $100K of expiring grant funds for park improvements

Paseo Park is located between Pacific Ace Hardware and Yolo Pharmacy in Downtown Winters. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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The Winters City Council is moving forward with a plan to expend at least $100,000 in Community Design grant funds from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) set to expire at the end of this year. The funds will go to some improvements to the Paseo Park, including an ADA path and electrical infrastructure improvements for lighting,

The grant was initially approved in January as funds for a reworking of Winters’ growth in the General Plan, but city staff concluded it was an insufficient amount to fully update the plan. Instead, the City Council agreed to reallocate the funds, with the proposed project being what was decided upon for using the money after a supplementary rural recreation grant submitted in January wasn’t awarded to Winters.

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa said she is, “asking for an increase in (her) procurement authority to be able to do a focused effort on doing some initial improvements to the park so we can take advantage of this $100,000 grant.”

Trepa also recommended that Mayor Wade Cowan and the City Council approve the creation of an ad hoc committee made up of two of its members to work with the City Manager’s staff to create and implement some design improvements for the park as well as to approve Trepa’s procurements.

The proposed resolution would grant Trepa the authority to exceed the typical $20,000 limit, amounts over which the Council must approve. Instead, the resolution allows her to negotiate and contract construction services up to $100,000 with only the approval of the ad hoc committee.

This is a measure Trepa says is necessary given the impending expiration of the grant, and notes within the resolution that this is a specific, one-time-only project whose, “specific spending authority is only for Paseo Park design build purposes in order to fully expend the grant funds prior to the Dec. 31, 2022 deadline.”

Trepa said she’s already received word from Ample Electric about the costs for the construction of a pedestal that would total $24,000, which exceeds her contract authority and exemplifies the kind of construction improvements she will procure with the expanded authority.

“Rather than bringing (each) contract back to the City Council (for approval), I’m asking the council for authority to increase my procurement contracting authority up to $100,000,” Trepa said.

Project details
Trepa listed the potential uses the grant money will go towards, including installing an ADA pathway, upgrading the park’s electrical system, building a fence, and improving the park’s drainage flows, up to and including all until the grant money is expended.

An amount of $75,000 is also available for this project via an American Rescue Plan grant that isn’t set to expire, though the City Manager said she didn’t anticipate the stated construction would go over the $100,000, and that if it did it would follow the standard procurement process of expenditures over $20,000 requiring City Council approval.

Construction will take place in phases with designs developing as the work continues, with Trepa suggesting a design competition for certain elements. She noted that the project will likely be several contracts rather than one totaling $100,000, but still anticipating that several will exceed her $20,000 procurement limit.

Trepa would then bring back a report in January describing what was done and what it cost from the grant.

The ad hoc committee will be responsible for reviewing design concepts for construction and improvements, as well as approving the procurement of contracts brought by Trepa.

Community response
During public comment, resident Kate Laddish expressed her appreciation for the ADA path. She also sought to clarify that, “what the City Manager is proposing would be to move forward with parts of a project that wouldn’t necessarily influence the way design would go later, but rather would facilitate use in the meantime and set the stage for whatever way the project goes from that.”

Cowan answered with the simple statement “you are correct in your assumption.”

Resident Valerie Whitworth expressed some disquiet with the Council’s work in relation to this park, saying, “the project was created with joy and community, and indeed it was, until 2021, November when the politics started.” She ended her comment by imploring the City Council, “I hope the committee honors what has been done so far…I do pray for joy and happiness and community involvement to become a part of this project once more.”

Councilmember Jesse Loren said she was, “really excited to be moving forward” with this project and “facilitating the use of this area.” She said that leaving any of the grant money unspent would, “send the wrong message to SACOG.”

Cowan expressed agreement with Loren’s points, saying it was his, “singular focus” to ensure there was no money left on the grant by the time the deadline came, as it could be a bad message to SACOG to let the money expire.

“It’s been a long, long time, and we’ve all wanted to see this done for years and years,” Cowan said.

Cowan also volunteered for the ad hoc committee and stated that Mayor Pro Tempore Bill Biasi, though absent from the meeting, had communicated to Cowan his willingness to join him on the committee.

“Having a couple of us able to work with the City Manager on this, I think, is important because we can sit down…and look at those plans and make sure that we’re doing our best to meet all the goals,” Cowan said.

The resolution passed with three yay votes, Biasi as absent, and Councilmember Harold Anderson abstaining.

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