City OKs Setup of Fund to Hold Donations for Rose Arbor

The San Marino City Council has approved the creation of a dedicated fund to hold private donations for the revival and maintenance of the Lacy Park rose arbor, an act intended to provide assurance that the money is spent as intended.
The measure, advanced by Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey, passed unanimously at the council’s Friday morning meeting, with Romey characterizing it as a way to “restore trust” after the unpopular teardown of the arbor in 2016. She put the motion to a vote after calling attention to vague or simply nonexistent records on prior arbor-related revenue and expenses.
“I know that there’s interest by the community to find out where past money raised [has gone],” Shepherd Romey said. “It’s sort of hard to go back and ask community members to step forward and raise another hundred-or-so thousand dollars — or whatever we’re going to ask them for — to help support this project if we don’t have good records on how the money was spent before.”
The move followed the presentation of a wealth of information regarding the arbor, which is presently being redesigned with a proposal planned by the end of the fiscal year in June. City officials are anticipating the past generosity of San Marino residents will help them fund the landmark’s return and its upkeep “so we don’t find ourselves in this situation again,” as Shepherd Romey put it.
“I’m enthused about getting private donations and community ownership of this project,” Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski said.
The old arbor, which was situated over the west entrance to Lacy Park — as the new version will be — was well represented in terms of San Marino dollars. Ninety-two bronze plaques adorned it, each representing a $1,000 donation from an individual or family. A former councilman, Dr. Matthew Lin, has pledged $200,000 toward the new arbor’s construction, citing his parents’ love of visiting the structure.
Although the city will not engage in any campaigning, it now has a place to deposit private donations for the arbor. A fundraising campaign, City Manager Marcella Marlowe explained, was something better left to a local group.
“We are happy, always, to do passive fund receiving,” she added.
Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne said he has solicited input from the Huntington Library and Descanso Gardens on designing the new arbor and also will consult groups like the San Marino Garden Club. In his efforts to put together a historical study, Throne said, he worked with the San Marino Historical Society and some residents who had documentation of the arbor since its original 1925 construction.
The City Council tabled its other agenda item last week, which concerned modifications to the city’s tree ordinance to address the removal of city-owned street trees.

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