The Benicia City Council voted 3-1 on Tuesday night to accept a $140,000 grant from the Coastal Conservancy Board to help design a redevelopment master plan for Waterfront Park.
The grant was originally awarded in September. The city will add a $20,000 contribution to the grant cash. The $160,000 total will be used to help hire a developer who will create a “Waterfront Park Master Plan.”
Acting Economic Development Manager Mario Giuliani addressed the council on the topic. He said the next step is for the city to issue a request for proposals or “RFPs” to contractors and firms interested in doing the work.
“They’ll have a price tag for the scope of work they want to do,” he said. “We’ll select the most responsible proposal. We’ll bring that forward to city council. At that point, they’ll award a contract.”
Council members listened to 13 public commenters over an hour of discussion before deliberating each other.
Before discussing the topic, councilwoman left the chambers. She recused her vote because she and her husband recently purchased property near the waterfront.
was the only council member to vote against accepting the grant. During public debate, he said that the project was more of a “want” than a “need” for the city.
“I cannot believe doing this particular thing is going to help bring people from miles around to our waterfront,” he said. “It’s something nice to have down there but we don’t need it.”
countered on his point by saying that Benicia is a point of departure for tourists leaving and entering the Suisun Delta.
Vice Mayor was concerned that like previous waterfront redevelopment plans in the past, there is no second part that would ensure that the actual redevelopment would happen. He said he would like to see part of the grant cash used on construction.
During debate, Giuliani told Campbell the way the grant reads it wouldn’t be possible. Giuliani said any money not used from the grant would have to be returned to the conservancy but could be asked back from the board for use in construction.
Campbell eventually admitted he couldn’t turn down that amount of cash for the city, no matter the cost for the city to match it.
“I just can’t walk away from $140,000,” he said. “I just can’t do it.”
Councilman biggest concern was the apparent lack of a plan or funding once the planning stage is finished.
“I would need a firm commitment for research or funding on phase two,” he said.
Hughes voted “yes” but did so with reservations and exclaiming his right to withdraw the vote.
The rough timeline for the city to have its proposal request prepared is by late January or early February.
“At that point, the city council will have an exact dollar amount on exactly what this will cost,” Giuliani. “We will know better if there’s any possibility of using those dollars for construction.”
In other business, the council voted unanimously voted to support Measure L, which was placed on the June 5, 2012 ballot by the Solano County Board of Supervisors in November. If it passes, the measure would dedicate a 0.125 percent sales tax to county libraries.
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