Vice Mayor Bret Silveira’s insistence that the gazebo in Whitmore Park is in such bad shaped that it needs replacement for up to three-quarter of a million dollars was met by scoffing from some Ceres residents in attendance of last week’s council meeting.
Earlier this year, the Ceres City Council designated $500,000 in ARPA funds and $200,000 in grant monies to be spent on construction of a new structure using metal materials. In August the council agreed to spend $65,940 with O’Dell Engineering to design a new gazebo.
Public Works Director Sam Royal said the cost includes engineering, a new concrete slab, a metal structure and new power supply that would last years into the future. In a staff report to the council, Royal said “The gazebo has been showing recent signs of structural degradation, including significant dry rot at the base and rooftop. Ongoing maintenance and repair work performed by city staff has become a necessity to ensure the structure is safe for continued use.”
Royal suggested the structure is 50 years old but in actuality it was built in 1988, making it 35 years old.
Ceres resident John Warren said when the topic came up earlier this year “it was kind of a shock to us in the public that there was anything wrong with that gazebo … and all of a sudden we had to tear it down and build a new one at a cost of 700 plus thousand dollars.”
“I haven’t seen from a reputable construction company how much it will cost to repair that facility and bring it up to standards,” Warren told the council. “What’s proposed here tonight is exactly the same thing that we have there today – just a new one. Same type of building, same pillars, same covers, probably different building materials.”
He said he wanted to see how much repairs would be rather than tear down and rebuild.
“I don’t care if you have to jack it up and pour a new foundation, put new electrical or whatever … to make it acceptable and serviceable for another 25 years,” said Warren.
Gene Yeakley, another Ceres resident, said the gazebo has some history.
“There’s no reason why that gazebo cannot be repaired,” said Yeakley. “It’s got history. People like it.” He added: “It’s ridiculous to spend all that money.”
He said the money could be better spent on police officers, traffic, dispatchers or code enforcement.
Silveira incorrectly asserted that the gazebo has been around for 55 years.
“It has been repaired several times,” said the vice mayor. “Just this last year the whole undercarriage has been replaced and the way the decking is it’s still dangerous to a certain point where we wonder if we should be using it at all. The Public Works has done a fantastic job to just put like Band-Aids for the last 15 or 20 years. Things have a shelf life.”
Silveira said besides the structure, “there’s a constant problem with the power and electricity issues because they are also over 50 years old.”
Silveira said the new structure would be a bit wider and “more conducive to what we use it for.”
The gazebo is often the center point for festivities like Concerts in the Park and the Ceres Street Faire and he cited how there is pole in the middle of where performers stand. He noted how band have to stand on ladders to plug equipment to an overhead power receptacle.
Vierra said the city would like to have a new gazebo in place before the Ceres Street Faire next May 4-5.
Councilman James Casey said while he tends to think the gazebo needs replacement, he thinks more public input is needed.
“Getting it replaced and getting it built structurally sound with metal that can be coated, it can last years and not have to have repetitive maintenance is something that I think we need to do, not only to save money in the future that we don’t have to constantly replace wood and have our Public Works out there working on it, it just sounds like the smart thing to do,” said Councilman Daniel Martinez.
The council spoke about adding a sign or city seal to the structure.
When the project came to a vote Casey cast the lone vote.