Council expresses desire to create Paseo Park ad hoc committee

The location of the proposed art park is on Main Street between Pacific Ace Hardware and the Yolo Pharmacy. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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Following a lively discussion on the Paseo Park project, Winters City Council asked City Staff to bring the topic of Paseo Park back on the next agenda so they could formally create a Council ad hoc committee to determine priorities for the SACOG grant.

At the Feb. 7 Winters City Council meeting, City Manager Kathleen Trepa presented a chronological timeline and information on funding for the Paseo Park project. 

Trepa summarized that on Oct. 18, 2022, the Council authorized design-build agreements for Paseo Park construction services beyond the City Manager’s $20,000 procurement limit in order to expend a $100,000 SACOG grant by its Dec. 31 deadline. The councilmembers at that time also requested that an ad hoc committee be appointed to approve designs and contractor agreements, to which then-Mayor Wade Cowan and current Mayor Bill Biasi were appointed. It was agreed by the Council and city staff that staff would provide a report on the use of the grant, which Trepa described as “the primary purpose” of the agenda item. 

A number of members of the public addressed the council during the public comments section of the meeting, including Paul Kastner, who told Councilmembers he works for a company that would provide the pro bono services and claimed there “had not been much agreement or cooperation from the City,” emphasizing the need for “community involvement” in the creation of the park. Kastner also provided copies of Express published letters to the editor and a column by Richard Kleeberg, as well as a pro bono agreement for architectural work.

Other community members who spoke included Dillan Rivas, Chris Turkovich, Corinne Martinez, Bill Haley and Kate Laddish.

Rivas suggested that bollards should be installed on the Main Street side of the Paseo Park walkway to support pedestrian safety and prevent cars from driving through the passage and using the park as a parking lot.

Turkovich expressed an appreciation as a business owner and Winters Downtown Business Association President for the “much-needed” electrical upgrades and expressed excitement moving forward. He also supported seeing rotating art exhibits.

Martinez acknowledged the City’s efforts to pursue funding and encouraged co-funding opportunities. She asked councilmembers to not lose sight of the bigger vision and said that it would be worse to allow the longer the park stays in its current condition because it didn’t have charm appeal.

Haley spoke to the history of what the Winters Center for the Arts did in 2010 to help develop the park. Haley noted that metal sheet piles could protect the historical building’s foundations from tree roots and commented that the Winters Hotel was supposed to step in and help develop the park. He urged the City to engage with the community to develop a park concept and provided a sign-in sheet of attendees from a 2010 community meeting.

Laddish expressed concern for the urban heat island effect and encouraged landscaping and seasonal shade. She suggested that the site furnishing be resistant to graffiti and cautioned against a water feature that would be turned off in drought conditions noting “waterless water features are a bummer.”

Councilmember’s discussion led to the request to have the topic come back on a future agenda so they can create an ad hoc committee since it was not on the current agenda.

Councilmember Jesse Loren urged the need for finding common ground and suggested the City consider looking into a Public Art ordinance similar to one in Santa Rosa.

Mayor Pro Tempore Albert Vallecillo said that the park has a lot of potential, but noted that realizing it will cost money — far more than the already allotted $100,000 from SACOG. He also stated that the designs for the park are not yet ready to implement, saying that what the council has “are not construction drawings, they’re concept drawings.”

Councilmember Richard Casavecchia expressed his hope that the city and the community can build off this momentum to promptly form an ad hoc committee to lay out phases for design/construction and the next steps.

In a separate statement to the Express, Biasi expounded on some of the decisions and rationale of the council.

Clarifying on the ad hoc committee concept to during the meeting, Biasi said “the council’s direction was to bring this back to a future council meeting and have a discussion on forming an ad hoc committee” formed of “two councilmembers as well as some community members” who will “collecting the various concepts and ideas and try to come up with direction on what we want to see on the park and try and bring that back to the council.”

“This is just a beginning phase,” Biasi clarified. “This isn’t what the park is going to be as a finished concept, it’s just the beginning with the money we have to use now” and that at this moment “we don’t really have any funding to go forward.” This means, according to Biasi, the completion of the park will “still have a couple more years” before completion.

Biasi summarized his belief in this project by reiterating his commitment to getting input from the community, “we (City Council) do want to get community feedback on it, we’d like to make sure it does maintain that aspect of being an art park…and we’re all looking forward to it being an asset for our downtown community to be able to enjoy.”

Trepa informed attendees that more public input could be shared at a joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting on Thursday, March 2 from 6–9 p.m. at the Public Safety Facility’s Community Room. She said the intention is to host a community workshop to discuss various policy options and recommendations for the Downtown Visioning Project.

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