A feature as seemingly benign as the Lacy Park rose arbor sparked enough sentiment among attendees at last Friday morning’s meeting of the San Marino City Council that one longtime resident stormed out of chambers after making a public comment on the subject.
The city is currently trying to finalize plans for what has been pegged as a $400,000 replacement to the arbor that can be sent out for bid ahead of what the council hoped to be a Sept. 13 ribbon -cutting.
But several citizens at the meeting asked for more public input and urged the council – which was lacking members Dick Ward and Steve Talt – to host a community meeting in advance of completing bid documents.
“I commend the city for doing a good job on this but there is no reason to rush this through,” said Gretchen Shepherd Romey. “This is a long-term project. A lot of people feel very strongly about the rose arbor and a lot of opinions should be taken into account.”
Romey suggested a community meeting to elicit input and also suggested a visit to the Huntington Library, Art Collections a Botanical Gardens to view the many rose arbors on that property.
“The rose arbor is a jewel at Lacy Park,” she added.
Interim City Manager Cindy Collins mentioned that she and other city staffers had met with Jim Folsom at The Huntington and had viewed the structures there.
A community meeting has been scheduled for Monday, August 7 at 12:00 noon in the Barth Community Room at the Crowell Public Library to elicit further public comment.
Lacy Park’s previous wooden structure, which had suffered substantial damage from weathering and dry rot, will be replaced by a concrete-lined and steel assembly that will be much more resistant to the elements. San Marino Director of Park and Public Works Dan Wall said the new arbor would be “a lighter looking structure” that would have a “100-year estimated lifespan with little maintenance.”
The price tag for the new arbor and accessory construction costs is $400,000, though Collins called that number “conservative.”
Collins told The Tribune on Tuesday afternoon that recent research has shown that Lacy Park’s wooden rose arbor lasted approximately 30 years before repairs were needed.
Former San Marino City Council Member and Mayor Dr. Matthew Lin and his wife, Joy, made an initial donation of $117,000 in 2016 in memory of Dr. Lin’s parents, who spent their last days in Lacy Park and had an affinity for the rose arbor. The Lins have pledged a total of $200,000 over four years and Collins said the city will immediately begin a fundraising campaign to close the gap. Wall – who also serves as the city’s engineer – said his department is in the process of finalizing the conceptual design of the rose arbor with the assistance of the Lacy Park Landscape Committee, which includes City Council Member and Vice Mayor Dick Ward.
During the public comment section, San Marino resident Shirley Jagels said she is “passionate” about the rose arbor project.
“This is very upsetting to me, personally,” she said. “We do not demolish our community resources until we have another design in place. There were areas where there was rot but it could have been restored for under $200,000 and it was demolished without community consent.”
Jagels then complained that she was not asked to be on the landscape committee that met with city staff over the proposed design and abruptly left the room.
On Wednesday, Collins said she was not aware of Jagels’ interest in the project but also noted that the landscape committee meetings are open to the public and there is no formal membership policy.
Collins also mentioned that the city will be soon be meeting with school district personnel regarding the possible relocation of a cell tower that is located in the maintenance yard between Valentine Elementary School and Huntington Middle School.
“We are certainly moving forward on that,” said Collins. “We are evaluating several scenarios and will be coming back with a list of alternative locations.”
Debbie Priester, a local travel agent, delivered a report on a community trip to the Republic of San Marino that will take place late next month. The contingent will be in the Republic on October 1, which will be the traditional changing of the guard. A delegation of 15 is expected to represent the city of San Marino and Priester indicated there are five spots remaining.
NEW ARBOR: Plans for a new rose arbor in Lacy Park, which is estimated to cost $400,000, include a rounded design and a sitting area in the middle of the structure.