The structure, designed to sit between the new city hall and the new community building, was pulled from the project’s first phase last year during more uncertain economic conditions. But when the first phase of the project came in $16.4 million less than anticipated, the council was presented with a chance to build it in phase one of the project.
Director of Finance and Information Systems Pam Ehler said the first-phase savings amounted to $11.4 million from the General Fund and $5 million from the Redevelopment Agency. She told the council that it should be possible to build the garage with the General Fund money alone.
Resident Steve Barr, after congratulating the council on being able to put the project’s first phase together so affordably, nevertheless encouraged it to hold off on the parking structure. Not enough was known about the future parking needs to determine if it would be better to build the civic center garage now or spend the savings on a parking structure closer to the center of downtown. Councilman Erick Stonebarger agreed with Barr, saying he didn’t think the civic center location “was the right spot.”
Councilman Bob Brockman, however, said the more centrally located structure was more of a commercial project – it has been envisioned to include first-floor retail – that would require time to put together, and time was of the essence on the civic center. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Nov. 10, and the contractor, Lathrop Construction, needs to know how it will proceed.
Mayor Bob Taylor said it would be too disruptive to build the bulk of the civic center now, and then go back in to add the garage later on. The garage had been a part of the overall design from the start, he said, and since it would eventually be needed, it should be built now.
The council voted 3-2 to proceed; Councilman Brandon Richey and Stonebarger dissented. The construction will be managed by Lathrop and the various elements of the job will be put out to bid.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to take up an offer from the Pittsburg Transfer Station to do a new analysis of the city’s solid waste disposal needs, free of charge to the city. The council was set to vote on a long-planned, multi-million dollar expansion of its current facility near Sunset Park when Austin Weaver, a representative of the Pittsburg facility, made the offer.
“I am incredibly convinced we can provide exceptional service and save the city a lot of money,” Weaver said. The city would also be able to better address future increases in recycling mandates, he said.
The council tabled its consideration of the new Brentwood facility to give the Pittsburg firm a time to put together a study. The study will also include any costs that might come from getting out of a current hauling contract with another company.