Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vera Cruz Park to get facelift


One of Santa Barbara’s four original public plazas, Plaza Vera Cruz Park, will soon get a facelift if the City Council authorizes a construction contract on Tuesday.
Changes include new pedestrian lighting, cast iron benches, trash receptacles, and landscaping, along with service road and maintenance improvements. City leaders are expected to approve a low-bid contract with Santa Maria-based V. Lopez Junior and Sons, Inc., for $392,556.

The neighborhood park, located at Cota and Santa Barbara streets, is one of four areas set aside in 1855 as a public plaza. In 1870, it became the first playground for school children, according to city documents.
Improvements over the years included work by the Santa Barbara Women’s Club and Santa Barbara Civic league in the early 1900s, and the construction of a youth building by the Santa Barbara Kiwanis Club in 1951 — now a Head Start daycare facility.
In 2003, the city installed play equipment constructed from recycled materials. The project sparked an interest in restoring and replacing other aging portions of the park, leading to two community meetings and the Plaza Vera Cruz Park Improvements Project.
“This priority project will significantly improve safety, access, and beautify the area by replacing the deteriorated infrastructure at Plaza Vera Cruz Park in the Lower Eastside neighborhood,” Brian Bosse, the city’s acting housing and redevelopment manager, wrote in a staff report.
As part of the sustainable focus of the project, workers will remove and dispose of wood utility bollards treated with creosote. They will also install water-conserving irrigation and plants, as well as lights with energy-saving technology.
Including design and construction, the project is expected to top out at approximately $573,700. Funding is largely being provided by the city’s Redevelopment Agency through appropriations from the 2003A Bond Fund and previous budgeting. Santa Barbara Beautiful also chipped in a $17,000 grant for ornamental plantings.
Construction is expected to take place from April to June, according to city documents.

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