Winters City Council continued its discussion of the Paseo Park construction process and moved to create an informal committee to help expedite the process at its Feb. 21 meeting.
At a previous meeting, City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa informed the council that the city closed out a grant with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) for $100,000 for the Paseo Park construction process and that the city has sent a second grant request of the same size to SACOG which the city expects to hear about in April.
Trepa told the council that city staff is “looking for some guidance and direction on where the council would like us to prioritize spending this next $100,000” because this grant is “clearly not going to do everything that people would like to see in the park, so we do need to focus our efforts on an area that can be accomplished with the $100,000.”
For possible uses of the funding, Trepa said the grant parameters are “pretty broad” regarding what the money could go towards, and provided a number of ways the money could be spent, including decorative screening for the park’s transformer, a structure to hold rotating art, and landscaping different areas of the park.
On Tuesday, the particular issue council discussed was whether the City Council wished to form an ad hoc committee to help determine the priorities of how the grant funding could be used for the Paseo Park project. Under the Brown Act, a California law that regulates the actions governing bodies can make beyond public record, an ad hoc committee can be formed of no more than two City Councilmembers tasked with addressing a specific issue for a short period of time, typically less than a year. The ad hoc committee is also an opportunity for the public and community members to provide input to the two councilmembers on this project.
During the public comment section of the discussion, Paul Kastner inquired about having the ad hoc committee develop a long-term plan with the $100,000 before starting any construction, and encouraged the ad hoc committee to work with the community on this project.
Trepa replied that another architectural firm the city already consulted was of the opinion that the project’s scope was so ambitious that it would require much of the engineering to be finished before they could draw up any plans, which will likely cost far more than $100,000.
Further, Trepa explained that the SACOG grant can’t just be used for design, the grant money has to go towards construction in some capacity.
“We need to do a physical installation as part of the $100,000 from the SACOG grant,” Trepa said. “It doesn’t have to be all of the $100,000, but we have to show that we’ve made some physical improvements.”
Trepa reiterated the complexity of all proposed elements of the park and the high cost that a complete construction of those elements would incur. “Any of what was envisioned previously is a very expensive park…so if we’re still trying to get to the concepts that have been discussed through the years…I would recommend that, again, we do it a little bit differently,” Trepa said, and that with the $100,000 currently on the table, the council needs to be focused and deliberate.
Councilmember Richard Casavecchia asked about the framework of an ad hoc committee, and asked Trepa, “Is there anything stopping us from forming an ad hoc to come up with chunks we think we need, disband it at the end of the year, and then just allow the plan that was developed to proceed?” which Trepa confirmed was within the capabilities of the City Council.
Councilmember Carol Scianna expressed her hope that the ad hoc committee could get the designs finished and work on some screenings and hoped that the community could get involved with the ad hoc committee, as well as informally nominating Mayor Pro Tempore Albert Vallecillo to sit on the committee.
Mayor Bill Biasi summarized the mandate of the ad hoc committee by saying “what we need to do is to focus on what we have now, the pathway we have through there, and what do we do moving forward.” Biasi stressed that the committee should “take input from the community” and,“get as much feedback as possible…and prioritize what’s the most important.”
Casavecchia and Vallecillo volunteered to sit on the ad hoc committee, and the council unanimously approved the committee’s creation.