A divided City Council voted to appropriate $4,000 to complete landscaping design plans for the Turlock Beautification Project by a 3-2 vote, with Vice Mayor Amy Bublak and Council member Bill DeHart in opposition.
In August of 2010 the Council also had a 3-2 vote on the issue, but it was a majority of Council (Bublak, Howze, and Spycher) that decided to table the project due to concerns with ongoing maintenance costs.
“I’m as conflicted as I was before,” said Council member DeHart. “I still vote no.”
Over $70,000 has already been spent on the project, which has been in development since 2009, and before Councilmen Bill DeHart and Forrest White were elected to the Council.
The project includes landscaping and signage improvements at the Monte Vista Interchange and Golden State Boulevard Corridor as well as installing a way finding sign system.
Again with a 3-2 vote (Bublak and DeHart in opposition), Council also approved an amendment to extend contractors Gates and Associates deadline to December 31, 2011.
Gates and Associates have already completed the way finding sign program as well as most of the engineering and design work for the Interchange and Corridor.
The new contract extension will permit the contractors to complete the remainder of their work.
Spending $4,000 to complete the project didn’t seem to be a big issue to the Council; however, landscape maintenance costs have been and continue to be a concern.
City of Turlock Deputy Director of Development Services Debbie Whitmore explained that currently about $2 million is available in transportation and enhancement activities funds. These funds are federal dollars which are available for these kinds of projects.
“We can accrue this 4,000 (dollars), set it on a shelf, and then we’re stuck because we know we can’t come up with 2 million to match that funding,” said Vice Mayor Bublak. “So to me it seems irrelevant to even bother spending the 4,000 dollars up front.”
With the majority of Council giving the green light, Gates and Associates will finish their work landscaping, but the funds to cover maintenance costs still remain up in the air.