Robinson Park Project Seeks Community’s Voice

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Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

1:06 pm | October 24, 2013


Responding to the requests of City Council, the Robinson Park Recreation Center Renovation Project Steering Committee met Tuesday to discuss how to further community engagement and outreach in the project including in the current phase.

After the City Council voted against the staff recommendation to hire Gonzalez Goodale Architects at the September 16 meeting, the steering committee was faced with the task of how to move forward.

Rather than starting entirely over, the steering committee voted to preserve most of the original document called the Request For Qualifications and Proposals for architectural and engineering services (RFP) with significant changes to the community outreach portions.

Seven members voted to keep the document while 2 members voted to take it out and start from scratch.

The council had rejected the plan after hearing community voice during public comment that the process of selecting the architect did not involve sufficient community involvement. Only one steering committee member had helped the four members of city staff score the 17 proposals submitted by architects and conduct interviews.

“The reason why we asked the city council to take a look at it is… in the first phase people did not have communication to tell [the community] what the uses of the park was at the time. No one told them what choices they had: grass or turf. If they had turf they couldn’t use the park,” Jim Morris said.

Morris and Martin Gordon want a person communicating what the design will be and what the impact of the design will be on the usage of the park to the community before its built.

“This is not just about jobs, this is about history. If we don’t look at history we’ll make the same mistake twice. We look at Robinson Park across the street, which we can only use from 10-2, which the community did not know. It was a design defect that allowed that to happen,” Martin Gordon said.

In the revised request for proposals the 17 architects who previously submitted a proposal will be asked to resubmit a proposal with specified formatting guidelines and will be considered with more weight on their plan to engage the community in the design and construction process.

Moving forward, the committee must submit any language changes to the revised RFP by Thursday Oct 24, the staff will synthesize the comments and return the document by Oct 28, staff will give an update to City Council at the Nov. 4 meeting and the architects will be asked back on November 7.

The selection process will include three steering committee members who represent the community and three members of staff who will score the 17 proposals, conduct the interviews and help make a recommendation to the council.

“The process were doing here is a way of having the community involved in the selection process, which is really unprecedented; we’ve never done that before,” Assistant City Manager Steve Mermell said.

Jim Morris, however, had concerns that the community at large was not represented at the steering committee meeting and thus could not have their voice be heard.

“Most of the people who are here are tied to the city, most of the people on that side are an architect or someone who works for Mr. Kennedy or works for the city. There are no people here from the community. If you look at it the community was not told about this meeting tonight. Lets look at how we can engage the community and it won’t work based upon the way you’re taking it,” Morris said.

One woman stood up in the meeting saying she was not working for the city or an architect.

Lola Osborne reported what steps were taken to outreach to the community about the meeting. Two banners hung at Robinson Park and one at the Jackie Robison center for the last three weeks, fliers posted from Kings Village to Peoria to the community arms, fliers were given at the Latino Heritage parade, 300 emails were sent to the Northwest Database, information was sent neighborhood connections and the Human Services newsletter.

“We want community engagement to be part of the DNA and heartbeat of this project,” Danny Parker said.

Brian Biery addressed the committee to urge the importance of stressing local hire now at the onset of the project.

“If you really believe that jobs are important to the community… there should be improved language on local hiring. The architect needs to be 100 percent behind local hiring, it will not happen otherwise. The lead contractor needs to be 100 percent behind local hiring, it will not happen otherwise,” Biery said.

The committee responded to his suggestions and wanted to include his comments in the revised document.

“You have an obligation to the community to not rush this through. This should come to the community before it comes to the council. It’s your responsibility to get the community here, to gather their feedback or else they will say you’re selling us out a second time,” Gordon said.

The Pasadena Community Coalition plans to have a meeting to inform the community about the project in the next few weeks and will invite the steering committee to attend.

The next Robinson Park Recreation Center Renovation Project Steering Committee Meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 19 at 6:00 at the Jackie Robinson Center. All community voice is welcome at the Steering Committee meetings.

For more info, visit www.CityofPasadena.net.