The Dec. 4 Hollister City Council meeting literally went to the dogs.
With only one regular agenda item that ended up being rescheduled for the Dec. 18 city council meeting, the Dec. 4 meeting came down to 15 resolutions on the consent agenda that, except for one, were all approved without discussion.
The one resolution that concerned Mayor Ignacio Velazquez was to approve a supplemental appropriation of $150,000 from the General Fund for maintenance work at the dog park near the airport.
The mayor asked Mike Chambless, airport manager, what had been done with a previous appropriation of $20,000 or $30,000 (he wasn’t sure about the amount or what year) allocated for improvements at the park. Chambless told the mayor the projects that had been approved were for fencing and a playground, which he said cost about $20,000, in addition to another $20,000 to pave the parking lot. Velazquez recalled the council had approved $20,000 for the park itself. Chambless could not recollect such an amount.
Velazquez questioned the intended use for the $150,000, placing a metal mesh under the dirt in order to prevent gophers or squirrels from digging in the park.
“That seems to be quite a bit of money and I’m uncomfortable with putting down a layer of metal or other material where dogs are going to be digging and end up getting hurt,” he said. “Do we have a history showing that this works?”
Chambless said the product has been proven to be effective in preventing gophers. He explained soil would be removed and the mesh would be placed eight inches deep to keep “ground squirrels” from digging, and would also be attached to the fences to prevent them from climbing over or through. After the mesh is installed, the soil would be brought back and mixed with organic material, along with an irrigation system.
“Hopefully, the owners won’t allow their dogs to dig in there,” Chambless said. “That would be really helpful.”
“Dogs will be dogs,” Velazquez responded, “and they’re going to dig whether their owners catch them in time or not. Have we looked at other ideas?”
Chambless described the existing irrigation system as being "shot", cast iron installed in the 1960s that needs to be replaced. He said of controlling squirrel population that poisons cannot be used because of the potential poisoning the dogs. He said without the irrigation system and wire mesh it would be impossible to grow grass at the park. The mayor asked if dog owners had given any input as to what they would like to have at the park. Chambless said the only input he has received is that the “park stinks.”
“I’m all for fixing the dog park,” the mayor said. “We’ve been talking about this for quite a while. I just want to make sure those who use it the most would be involved with it and making sure we use the fund as best we can. A $150,000 can go a long ways and I want to make sure we’re doing it right the first time. Have we had a chance to set up a meeting with the groups?”
Chambless said he was not aware of any groups. Councilman Jim Gillio said he had been approached about the park and that one individual has offered to donate as much as $20,000. He looked at the $150,000 as a maximum that could be offset by any donations. He said the job could be done cheaper by using material less durable than stainless steel, but would not last as long. He thought it important to allocate the money, and then reach out to the public for input, as well as donations. Of more concern to him is the location of the playground, which is near the San Felipe and Fallon Road intersection. He suggested moving the playground and cleaning up the park so it would be a better location for dogs and children.
The mayor dismissed Gillio’s comments with, “These are conversations we’ve already had. My concern is why haven’t we set up a meeting with that group that’s been coming here for the last few years? What happened to the dollars we’ve already allocated last year or the year prior? How were those funds used, if they’ve been used?”
He recommended bring the resolution back at a future meeting in order to have time to encourage more public comments.
“We need to have a better understanding and a better conversation about what we’re trying to accomplish, so we do not make a mistake,” he said. “We’ve done this before, where we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves and then we find out that’s not what the public wanted. We might use the $150,000 in a way we haven’t thought about and make a great dog park rather than just an ok dog park.”
Councilman Ray Friend commented that he had been out to the dog park and had spoken to people there. He said what he heard from them was they wanted exactly what Chambless was proposing, adding that perhaps the council did need to postpone the resolution in order to gather more input from the public.
Bill Avera, city manager, wondered if anyone knew of a particular group the city needed to reach out to. He recalled one group called H-Dog, but wasn’t sure if the group was still around. Gillio said he knew some people he could talk to. Ultimately, the three council members who were present—Karson Klauer and Mickie Luna were absent—agreed to continue the resolution an undetermined date.
Additional Consent Resolutions passed
Among the consent resolution items that were approved were: $40,000 for various park irrigation improvements; submittal of an application, acceptance of allocation of funds, and execution of a grant with the California Department of Transportation for airport improvement matching grant; accepting the donation of $4,000 from local developer and Stone Bridge owner, Hugh Bikle toward the purchase of World War II memorial plaques that would be installed at the airport; approval for plans and specifications and to accept bids for repairs to one of the airport runways; approval of $60,000 to purchase various furniture, computers and ID card maker to be shared by two cannabis officers and a school resource officer; and the approval of a supplemental appropriation of a fund for the park facility master plan update 2017.
Bonnie View Road
Several residents who live along Bonnie View Road were back before the council to express their concerns about construction taking place at the northern end of the dead-end road, as well as damage from trucks, and the potential of from 200 to 300 vehicles traversing the road, which they say has not been repaired in more than 30 years.
Diane Sites said her neighbors had asked her to speak on their behalf about the apparent lack of care being shown to those who live along Bonnie View Road by the Del Curto Brothers development.
“There has been new damages to our old, narrow road from the trucks that came through on Nov. 14,” she said. “We neighbors worked together with (Supervisor) Mark Medina to get them to stop using the road. My point is, within two hours our road actually received large potholes and damages to the neighbors’ yards.”
She wondered if the council had any thoughts what would happen once the road is open to traffic with 200 or more cars each day.
“We want you to reconsider the opening of our dead-end street,” she said. “There are already three other ins and outs to the development of 21 homes. You have recently approved here in Hollister another development of 200 homes with only two ingresses and egresses. There are many of these in town and it seems to me approving to keep our road closed and left alone is not a problem. If you open our road, it will cost more because it is in need of a lot of repair. City and county will need to pay for improvements.”
She asked that when the residents come back to the Dec. 18 council meeting, the council approve what they are asking, that the street be kept closed.
Another resident who lives on Bonnie View brought up the issue of an aging gas line that runs the length of the road. She said the residents have requested a current inspection.
“This gas line was put in in 1950, and we’ve asked one question,” she said, “did the development at the north end of Bonnie View Road hook up to a 67-year-old gas line without using a 3D tool inspection? Or any kind of inspection. As of today, no answer.”
She said that it was hoped there would be some answers at the Dec. 18 meeting.
“Bonnie View county road has many safety issues to address before allowing the city to encroach through and to accommodate the increased traffic estimated at 381 cars a day on a deteriorated road with a 67-year-old gas line running through it,” she said.
A Plea for Interactive Art
Zavan Quezada, is a homeless street artist who often appears at city council meetings dressed in his flamboyant style to plead emotionally and sometimes poetically that he be left alone and that his art creations at various locations throughout town not be destroyed.
At the Dec. 4 meeting, he described himself as a “full-blown artist” who loves to talk about parks. He commented that he had heard Councilman Ray Friend ask about combining education and art, and his answer was an Interactive Art Park (IAP).
“This is what Hollister needs,” he said. “It needs something to keep the unity of community. These IAPs will help Hollister not only start something fresh, but go from Hollister to nationwide. New York City just built a multi-million dollar art part.”
He suggested if New York could build an art park Hollister should be able to do the same thing. He suggested a “seven, six, pick up sticks” project, meaning build seven art parks in Hollister in six months.
“I have four retail spaces that have been empty for some time now,” he said. “For example, the one across the street from Dabo’s Liquor could be turned into a little library, as well as a place for an interactive art park.”
He admitted that some might see him as emotional and outspoken, but said that is because he is an artist who cares about the community. He added that while hundreds of homes are being built there still is not anything for people to do in town.
“We need things to happen and the only way is if we do something about it,” he said as if orating. “I am 100 percent for these IAPs and I know there are others who agree with me because there are some brilliant artists who live here. I believe everything will happen, not to fall apart, but to fall in place, and my name is Zavan and I’m a full-blown artist from Hollister, California.”
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