City Council again delays Riverfront Park
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
The Fredericksburg City Council once again delayed the decision to award a $99,656 contract for the design of Riverfront Park.
Instead, four members of the council voted to have another work session dedicated to discussion of the park to address the topics of parking, concept design and the Riverfront Task Force. Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw and council members George Solley and Kerry Devine voted against that motion.
The earliest that work session could occur is before the council’s Feb. 12 meeting, but it has not been scheduled yet.
In a discussion that lasted more than an hour, more than half of the council members expressed their issues with moving forward to award a contract for a concept design for Riverfront Park.
Council member Matt Kelly’s concerns were over several things, but he emphasized that he didn’t think the council needed to see a third concept design for the park. He said that the council saw a design in the 1980s and again more recently and that a third design from a consultant is not needed.
In response, Solley, one one of the driving forces behind the project during the last several years, said that since the second design was presented, much has changed, including the land the city has for the park.
Some of council member Fred Howe’s concerns were over the cost of the park and how it measured up against the city’s other priorities.
Some of council member Bea Paolucci’s concerns were about the task force, which consists of 15 members of various city organizations, staff members and council members. She, as well as others, questioned how the members were chosen and the process the task force went through to select the firm to award the contract to.
Council member Brad Ellis raised several concerns about the contract itself and what it included, and argued that a feasibility study should be done first and then the design.
Devine urged the council to move forward because so much work has already been done—by previous councils, by the task force and staff. She added that money was put aside in the fiscal 2013 budget and that was the time to raise questions, not when a contract is in front of the council for approval.
Greenlaw told the council that she believed there is a “fundamental misunderstanding” among the council members about what was in front of them.
She said that several of the questions brought up by council members about parking, riverbank stabilization and other environmental issues and cost, among other things, would be part of what the consultant would address with the concept design.
Solley tried to address each issue brought up by other council members and what has already been done by the task force.
This meeting was the third time in recent months that the council has discussed plans for the park.
At its recent retreat, the council ranked completing the design for the park second on its list of priorities to get done over the next two years.
The park was started a few years ago, but the work was put on hold because of the downturn in the economy.
Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413