HomeCity NewsCity Council Directs Staff to Solicit Architectural Plans for Stoneman ADA, Health...

City Council Directs Staff to Solicit Architectural Plans for Stoneman ADA, Health Upgrades

The San Marino City Council voted to direct staff to solicit bids for architectural plans at Stoneman, which will incorporate $1.3 million of ADA accessibility improvements and almost another million dollars in health and safety improvements.

Mayor Allan Yung, Vice Mayor Richard Sun and Council Member Richard Ward voted for the upgrades, which were unanimously supported by the Recreation Commission at a special meeting on Sept.12, while Council Members Steve Talt and Steven Huang voted against them.

Stoneman has headquartered the City of San Marino’s Recreation Department—housing the department’s daycare and preschool programs as well as a number of classes—since the city purchased the building from the San Marino Unified School District in 2012.

The city has operated those programs at Stoneman since 2003.

Assistant City Manager Lucy Garcia explained to the divided council that “prior to 2012, our preschool program was actually much more robust.”

“In fact, we had much more revenue and more participants,” noting a 32 percent decrease in preschool revenue and attendance when, in 2012, the County of Los Angeles found the building to be out of compliance.

Garcia informed the council that she anticipates revenue and attendance will return after the city installs county-required heating and air conditioning units and insta-hot water faucets, fire department-required educational monitoring alarm and wet systems, and performs lead and asbestos removal and seismic retrofitting, in addition to meeting federally mandated ADA requirements.

“When we lost attendance for the full-day preschool option, we did have a number of residents leave the program because their objective was to get full daycare/preschool services,” Garcia said.

She estimated that the Recreation Department will witness a net gain of approximately $100,000 a year, helping it reduce the current $326,000 annual subsidy it receives from the city’s general fund.

“[Stoneman] literally represents about half of the department’s overall operating budget,” said Garcia, noting that the department’s classes and daycare and preschool programs recover over 100 percent of their expenditures.

City Manager Cindy Collins outlined the city’s process in determining the costs of the upgrades.

“We assembled our team of department heads—planning and building, public works, the fire department, and recreation—and we looked at what the scopes of bringing everything up to compliance would be based on each of those departments’ specific needs,” Collins said.

She also explained that the ADA accessibility upgrade costs include a 15 percent contingency, in case costs exceed the estimates.

“We were generous with the contingency so that we would give you the fullest, what we feel is a very conservative dollar amount,” she said, noting that an additional 25 percent contingency was added on to the total of all the upgrades.

Though the council’s action on Friday, Sept. 30 did not add to the city’s financial obligations, if the council does choose to move forward with the upgrades after reviewing the architectural plans in January it will dip into its $16 million reserve fund.

The $2,388,061 price tag would represent approximately 15 percent of the city’s reserves.

“Two million dollars is not pocket change and I fully agree, but with public buildings, $2 million is probably pocket change because it cost $900,000 to do the internal remodeling of this small building,” said Mayor Allan Yung pointing to City Hall.

“We are just bringing the building up to date,” added Yung, who encouraged the council to support the upgrades.

Council Members Talt and Huang were not persuaded by the Mayor’s numerous appeals.

“Today has only created more questions than answers for me to even be able to take that first step,” said Talt.

He recommended that a citizen committee be formed to holistically assess and develop a business plan for the Recreation Department, possibly including an increased fee for non-resident users of programs and services.

Talt mentioned that further research should identify potential costs associated with preserving the facility’s historic elements during construction.

Talt’s ‘no’ vote, he explained, was motivated by the city’s experience with the Lacy Park Rose Arbor.

“I don’t want another Rose Arbor situation, where we put something out for bid and we come back 10 days later and say it’s going to cost another 50 percent,” he said.

Huang’s concerns were similar to those of Talt, though he appeared to be simultaneously making a broader point.

“When I campaigned last year, I said I would be fiscally responsible, so I just want to make sure we’re spending our money wisely because those 35 percent won’t be paying for the $2.3 million,” said Huang, referring to his position paper regarding Stoneman.

In that paper, Huang calculated 35 percent of people who utilize services provided by the Recreation Department do not live in San Marino, and, therefore, do not pay property taxes in the city.

His paper also posed a number of questions to which he said he has not yet received all the answers to from city staff.

“I think it’s still premature,” Huang said, questioning the accuracy of the $2.4 million estimate.

In questioning the city’s estimate, Huang referenced a $5.2 million figure found in the school district’s 2007 Stoneman Master Plan.

Tribune research found that the district’s proposal went beyond the scope of work currently identified by the city. In The Tribune’s comparison of the two proposals, the district approximated $4 million for the work being proposed by the city.

“We can’t leave the situation as it is,” said Council Member Richard Ward. “I am not going to vote for it unless its understood that this $2.4 million investment is going to be made to keep this building open for 10 to 20 years and use it as the headquarters of the recreation department.”

Ward added, “This [decision] will then somewhat advance the decision about what we’re going to do with Stoneman.”

That was one point that everyone—recognizing the community’s indecision about the property’s future and decades of facility studies—was able to support.


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