Pooch Park's Chain-Link Fence Turns Into $1.2 Million Boondoggle
Is This A Dog Park Or Hog Heaven?
At tonight's Council Meeting, there's a consent item to approve moving the Pooch Park from the Hunt Branch Library property to the Brea Dam Park. This is something the non-profit foundation that operates the park supported, the Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously recommended, and council approved in August 2021. What none of them approved was the $1.2 million price tag we were just given. Here’s the story.
Scrolling through the City Council agenda for March 21, I noticed the Pooch Park was listed and quickly choked on the price tag of $936,196.63.
After picking myself up off the floor, I clicked on the link and found the total price was actually $1,207,855. Luckily $266,093 of that money is coming from State of California grant money. Boy I’d hate to be the sucker paying for that part of it!
Next was the estimate from the design consultant the city hired who had “estimated” the construction cost would be $745,000 compared to the low bid of $919,208, a 24% increase.
Okay…this all seems extremely excessive, so let’s go back to the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting where this was first presented. A quick scroll through the city’s Legistar website to the June 2021 agenda, click on the ‘Fullerton Pooch Park Relocation’ and… broken website links.
Astute readers will remember this problem from here, broken links all over our very expensive city website.
Next we’ll try the August 2021 city council agenda. And there it is.
So how did this happen? How did a $250k-$300k project go from some chain-link fence in a “tree filled area” and paid for by a state grant end up as a $1.2 million project with ninety tons of asphalt ($33,212.70), 7500 square-feet of concrete ($80,175), shade structures ($153,511.97), and solar lighting ($185,355.40 and at a park that will likely be closed at sunset) with a total cost to the city of $942,524?
They more than quadrupled the price and it was put on the consent calendar, where non-controversial items not needing debate are supposed to go (another problem Fullerton.City News has written about regularly).
I’ve emailed City Manager Eric Levitt and Mayor Fred Jung inquiring about the change in price, why this would be a consent item instead of discussed publicly, and letting them know of the many broken links on the city website. I’ve asked them to move this to a future meeting where it can be properly scrutinized. We’ll see what they do.
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Great write-up Erik. Shocking how easily a project’s cost can be tripled and then the item be placed on the consent calendar and not regular business. Additionally, this project seems to be taking FOREVER.
What about approaching the High Schools, Fullerton College and the CSUF on making construction projects on the Pooch Park as school education projects? Should considerably reduce the cost factor, give better transparency oversight, involve the citizenry (students) w/ the community- while teaching construction trades to future business entrepreneurs?