City Council Goes With Wood Rose Arbor

With the approval of the City Council, plans for a revived Rose Arbor at Lacy Park are now being prepared to be sent out for bid, hopefully in the fall.
“That section of the park has been an eyesore for too long and it was a mistake by the city to put it in that condition,” said Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey, signaling support for moving forward at last week’s City Council meeting.
To remain faithful to the former Rose Arbor, which was torn down in 2016 after city officials deemed it hazardously deteriorated, the City Council dictated that Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne spec out a lumber arbor, despite his recommendation for steel. The new arbor also will be painted white, as before, and its cost is estimated at $350,700.
“I think a lot of members would like to see it built and built with the same materials,” Shepherd Romey said. “Even with the maintenance and best the intentions, I think [steel is] very problematic.”
Lumber ends up bearing the cheapest construction cost of all options (in addition to steel, the city also considered aluminum and composite material), but the rub is that the nature of the material means it will likely need to have pieces replaced more frequently, and also need repainting more often.
Shepherd Romey said her concern with steel was rooted in the long-term maintenance of the arbor.
“If we go to some of these other metals, by definition, they’re going to be hollow,” she said. “Often those are extremely high maintenance and they are damaged and scraped by the public, whether intentional or not, and it becomes a big maintenance issue.”
Additionally, Shepherd Romey said she was concerned about the effect steel and the material used to paint it might have on the roses and other surrounding foliage. Throne had pointed out that metals would need to be painted after assembly because an existing paint job would be damaged anyway when cutting the material for construction.
“Steel just packs a heat element in there, so for that I’m concerned for the plants,” she added. “That’s another issue I’d like to take into account when considering costs.”
At last week’s meeting, Throne had explained that he planned to use redwood planks on the topside of the structure, where rose arms are to be laid, because the material does not absorb heat as strongly. If those roses were in contact with, say, metal, it would burn the plants.
In proposing steel for the main structure, Throne noted that although the many rose bushes would be in proximity to the structure, none of the plants would actually wind their way up the support beams, as is seen in parts of the Huntington Library’s famed rose garden.
It was a risk the City Council appeared unwilling to take, and, at any rate, they preferred the aesthetic of the wood.
“It’s just a big project and a lot of steel,” Councilman Steve Talt said. “Given all the consideration to toxicity and burning and so forth, I don’t want to spend all of this money on steel and realize that it’s not really working out. I do appreciate your effort in trying to find a long-term solution to this problem, but wood in my opinion would be the best alternative and most secure alternative, because we know what that’s going to be like.”
Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski urged that the city write language into the final resolution accepting a bid offer for an endowment fund to be established to pay for continued maintenance and upkeep for the structure, which previously adorned the western entrance to Lacy Park.
“Unfortunately, 10 years from now, most of us will have turned over and not be part of this city environment and we may or may not have good stewards of what we have put in place. It may be imperative that we implement a well-detailed plan,” she said. “I would feel wonderfully secure if we could have an endowment in place for this lovely setting.”
The city also has discussed launching a fundraising campaign for the arbor once a final plan is approved. The previous arbor bore scores of plaques commemorating its previous donors, and those are expected to be returned to the new arbor. The city has been attempting to reach a former city councilman, Dr. Matthew Lin, regarding a $117,000 pledge for arbor reconstruction.
“If it happens, it happens, but I think we’ve been trying for a while,” Jakubowski noted, suggesting that the city prepare to go without the pledge for now.
Throne said he will try to expedite the bid process as much as he can, but the listed timetable for the City Council to award bids is mid-October.

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