City Reviews Rebuild Options for Rose Arbor

The City Council expects to review options for the Lacy Park Rose Arbor tentatively in March after giving Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne a sense of their hopeful direction at a meeting last week.
The prior Rose Arbor was demolished by the city in 2016 after it had apparently deteriorated to a hazardous state, a move which incensed those intent on preserving historical landmarks in town. The City Council aims to find a way to replace the structure in a way both meaningful to those who have donated for it in the past and sturdy enough to stand for the foreseeable future.
“There’s been a segment of your community that had thought that we just leave it a walkway and do some other amenities and just make it a garden,” Throne said at the meeting last Friday. “The Design Review Committee had that as a notion. They had replacing it as a notion. And then they came up with a third notion, which was sort of in-between.”
City Manager Marcella Marlowe asked City Council members to weigh in as though money was not an issue so Throne had the best starting point to modify.
“This just gives us a sense of what’s going on in your head with this project,” Marlowe said.
Throne also tasked City Council members with defining what they saw as the “best value” scenario for the arbor. He added that he had not yet been able to unearth the plans for the most recent update to the arbor in 2005, but would continue looking for them.
“The cost of construction has to take into consideration that we don’t want to be spending money every 13 years,” Mayor Steve Talt said. “The operating cost is going to depend a lot on what material we use. Best value, to me, is using sustainable materials that are easily maintained and will last longer.”
Former City Councilman Dr. Matthew Lin has pledged to reimburse the city up to $117,000 for the project, which at one point saw estimates near $400,000 for a full reconstruction.
“In my fairy tale world, I would like to see it restored,” Vice Mayor Dr. Steven Huang said. “In reality, I am concerned with the cost. When we started, I think it was $170,000 and now it’s doubled. I don’t understand why it would cost so much for a few pieces of wood.”
Other City Council members agreed the new arbor’s longevity and maintenance costs should weigh heavily in the ultimate decision and that plaques for past donors ought to be carried forward into the new structure.
“I think the most important priority for the community is to have the Rose Arbor back and to have it back in a way to respect past donors,” said Councilwoman Gretchen Shepherd Romey, who is a longtime member of the San Marino Garden Club. “It’s not just about who’s going to pledge money for the future. It’s also about those who pledged money in the past.”

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