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Bayer park set to move forward after Santa Rosa City Council OKs $320,000 expenditure

A long-delayed park in Roseland will move forward after the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday approved an extra $320,000 to cover cost overruns in designing it.

The council authorized the additional funds to pay for design work already performed by Mill Valley firm Royston Hanamoto Alley & Abey.

The increase brings the total cost of community outreach and design services for the Bayer Neighborhood Park and Garden on West Avenue to $1.35 million, much of it paid for by grants.

While the cost increases were attributed in part to the additional design and permitting work required following a series of community meetings, Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips stressed that in no way was the community being blamed for the overruns.

“It's a wonderful project and it's been a wonderful process,” Phillips said. “It's just more expensive than we had anticipated when we issued the first (request for proposals from design firms).”

The project started modestly as the renovation of a farmhouse and barn but grew to include a whole series of new buildings the city couldn't afford. It was significantly scaled back earlier this year to fit within an estimated $6.5 million construction budget.

Council members were taken aback earlier this month by the cost-overruns and asked for additional documentation. Mayor Scott Bartley said the records reflect what he suspected – that the city officials who managed the project approved all the additional work without updating the City Council.

“We got there as a city ourselves,” Bartley said. “It wasn't one big change. It was a whole series of little changes.”

He said he wanted more information about how the overruns happened to avoid similar situations in the future.

Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom asked what would happen if the council decided not to pay the additional amount.

Phillips said construction drawings on the park are halfway done and need to be finished so a contractor can be selected and the park built.

“If you don't approve this then the process basically stops,” Phillips said.

The southwest part of Santa Rosa has long been underserved when it comes to parks, and the project, even though it is outside city limits, is one of several aimed at redressing that inequity.

Councilwoman Julie Combs said the project had been “nationally recognized” for its community involvement, which she “builds trust over time.”

“I very much appreciate that while there have been some cost overruns, that we did such an outreach and that the community and the community was so actively involved,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.

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