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City buys property, funds landscaping plans

POSTED July 1, 2011 7:33 p.m.

Vice Mayor Amy Bublak again advocated for austerity Tuesday night, while her colleagues on the Turlock City Council approved purchasing an office building and expending funds to complete landscaping designs.

The office building, located adjacent to City Hall at 144 South Broadway Ave., is the current site of Housing Program Services. The facility will cost $483,894.

In addition to Housing Program Services, the building will house the Recreation Services Division, whose current site, 301 Starr Ave., was sold to the Turlock Redevelopment Agency for $332,000 at a special, July 21 council meeting.

Bublak said she was opposed to the purchase due to the existing, vacant office space in City Hall that was created during budget-related downsizing.

“As much as it’s a great deal, I just have this concern that we’re spending this money which isn’t really necessary at this time,” Bublak said.

City staff said the purchase would allow the City of Turlock to consolidate all of its operations on Broadway Avenue and along South Walnut Avenue. Councilwoman Mary Jackson stated the purchase would also save the City of Turlock in rent costs.

 “I would much rather own than rent,” Jackson said.

Bublak was the only member of council to oppose the sale.

 

Landscaping also contentious

A budget amendment to complete landscape design plans for the Turlock Beautification Project, which would landscape the Monte Vista Interchange and the Golden State Corridor, also drew Bublak’s opposition on Tuesday.

Bublak and Councilman Bill DeHart opposed a majority of Mayor John Lazar, Jackson and Councilman Forrest White who approved the $4,000 expenditure from the Turlock Redevelopment Agency’s budget.

The landscaping plan has long been a point of contention on the Turlock City Council.

In a 3-2 vote, the past council put plans on hold in 2010 due to concerns regarding ongoing maintenance costs, and a lack of funds to actually implement the landscaping once plans were completed.

Turlock had already spent more than $60,000 on the plans at that time, but had not expended the full amount allocated for the project.  As the contract had not been completed within a previously agreed-to one-year time span, the council opted to abandon the contract in hopes of saving every penny possible.

At the June 7 meeting, again a split 3-2 council, agreed to resume the landscape planning, but did not appropriate the required funds – completed Tuesday. Bublak and DeHart were opposed at that meeting, as well.

“Just to be redundant, it’s my belief although it’s a nominal fee, it’s $4,000 and it’s not earmarked,” Bublak said. “To me it seems irrelevant to even spend that $4,000 up front.”

She again questioned whether Turlock would be able to afford the project. Bublak asked City Manager Roy Wasden what would happen even if the City of Turlock received a grant, as no matching funds were set aside.

“We’d have to identify where we’d find the match at that time. If a grant’s available and we don’t have a match, we’d have to reject it at that time,” Wasden said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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