The Rose Arbor at Lacy Park will be replaced instead of repaired, the San Marino City Council determined at its meeting last Friday following the advice of Parks and Public Works Director Dan Wall.
“The rose arbor is in an advanced and rapidly accelerating state of decay and replacement, rather than repair is staff’s recommendation,” Wall said to open his presentation of three replacement options.
“Replacement will provide us with the opportunity to construct the rose arbor either out of wood—in a manner where we have connections that don’t lead to the dry rot problem we’re currently experiencing—or out of a more durable material, such as powdered-coated steel,” he explained.
The first option, Wall said, would be “nearly identical to the design of the existing arbor.” That would include the same massing, materials and form, he added.
Built of steel, this option would cost $600,000. Built of wood, the cost would be half as much at $300,000.
The second option, explained Wall, would b
e “similar in mass to the existing structure, but it incorporates arches into the design, providing a more formal feel.”
Built of steel, this option would cost $700,000. Built of wood, the cost would be half as much at $350,000.
The third option, which the council ruled out, would be “very similar to option 2 in the use of arches but it has a wider and more delicate feel to it,” said Wall. This option is only available in steel and would cost $500,000.
Council Member Steve Talt favored the first option in wood. “I do believe this should be done as cost-effective and permanent as possible,” he noted.
“We should discuss the issue with The Huntington and, in fact, exact a donation from them to help us build an arbor,” Talt added, echoing remarks made by resident Hal Harrigian.
Council Member Steven Huang also supported the wood option. “Aesthetically, steel doesn’t look as good as wood,” he said.
Council Member Richard Ward favored a fourth option, which Wall said would cost half the amount of any of the prices quoted for the three presented options.
“We could do construction on the front entrance and on the back of the arbor,” said Wall, noting that option would remove the structure in between. The walkways between the front and back of the arbor would be lined with densely planted rose hedges.
Vice Mayor Sun suggested that Wall also research the possibility of a walkway with standalone metal arches through the middle of the arbor.
The City of San Marino has budgeted $134,950 for the replacement project, which could cost anywhere between $150,000 and $700,000 depending on the council’s decision.
Approximately $117,000 was donated earlier this year by former Mayor Dr. Matthew Lin and his wife, Joy. The council requested that Lin be included in the decision-making process.
Donations appeared to be the council’s preferred method of paying for the new Rose Arbor.
“The original arbor was built with donations from people, who in turn received a plaque,” Talt reminded the council. “Perhaps, if we can find a way to again start that process we would increase our options.”
“If you could come up with a design with naming opportunities then the funding would be a lot easier,” agreed Vice Mayor Richard Sun.
“I’ve had a couple of people, who didn’t indicate how much, but would be interested in donating to the rose arbor,” Interim City Manager Cindy Collins informed the council.
Wall assured council members that creating donation opportunities would not be a problem.
“We’re not limited to posts for naming opportunities. We could very well have some sort of wall that’s incorporated into the design,” Wall said.
Collins said staff will move forward with the council’s direction and comments, which included a suggestion to consider the Virginia and St. Albans Roads entrances as a connected project.
Quarterly Crime Report
Police Chief John Incontro reported to the council that a burglary pattern has become apparent.
“The burglaries are occurring just off of main streets, a block, maybe a block-and-a-half. So they’re not going deep into our residence,” said Chief Incontro.
“We do emphasize our patrol right around that area,” he noted, adding that the police department will be utilizing its new crime analytics software more moving forward.
Council Member Ward told Chief Incontro that he found the increase in calls for service over a three-month span to the department to be “astounding,” especially the 285 percent increase in 9-1-1 calls.
“We’ve been very careful to ensure that these numbers are as accurate as we can and they’re much more detailed than what we once had,” Chief Incontro explained.
Another contributing factor, he added, could be the department’s practice of encouraging calls.
“Every opportunity that any of my officers or myself have we ask the community to call us,” he said of the overall 20 percent increase in calls for service.
“We get calls on the gas company guy, the meter reader, the UPS man, and I have no problem with that at all. We’ll make sure they are the actual people and that’s what our job is and that kind of presence also helps us with trying to reduce crime.”
Chief Incontro said two vacancies exist in the department. Five candidates are being considered for the two open officer positions.
He also noted that ‘Part 1’ crimes have decreased, despite the latest string of residential burglaries.
Making San Marino Better
Council Member Steven Huang requested that four items be added to the Making San Marino Better List, a running list of city council priorities intended to improve the quality of life in San Marino.
Huang wanted to know if council members are allowed to add items to the council’s agenda and why he didn’t receive a response to a question about fire department overtime costs in a timely manner.
He eventually received an answer, Huang wrote in his latest position paper. The city told him that the fire department had already spent $150,000 of its budgeted $230,000 overtime pay.
Huang’s second attempt to reduce staffing of the fire engine from four firefighters to three – his third requested item for the list – prompted San Marino Firefighter/Paramedic Sam Benites to deliver an impassioned speech against Huang’s proposal.
Benites listed the council’s lack of understanding about fire department operations as a leading reason for the council’s reduction of budgeted overtime pay and Huang’s proposal.
“If you think reducing staffing will reduce overtime, it won’t. If [the council] reduces staffing, [current firefighters] make more money in overtime. If this was about money, I’d say cut the staffing right now. Because that’s going to create a lot more injuries on duty, which means a lot more vacancies and it’s going to create people who currently work at this department to seek employment elsewhere,” Benites explained as a part of his 16-minute speech.
“I just want to raise awareness about how much the overtime is after three months” responded Huang.
Lastly, he recommended that the city examine the possibility of switching back to a five-day work week.
City Attorney Peter Thorson recommended that the council wait for these items to be placed on a future agenda before holding a lengthy deliberation about them.
Interim City Manager Collins agreed, noting that the mayor has traditionally determined the items on an agenda.
She added that she will work with the city clerk to develop a formal policy for placing items on the council agenda.