After a four-month set back, the Robinson Park Recreation Center Renovation Project seems to have gained forward momentum once again with the announcement of the proposed architect at a community meeting on Tuesday.
A committee made up of an unprecedented three steering committee members and three city staff members chose gkkworks, a Pasadena-based firm with worldwide experience, as the architect for the long-awaited project.
The city staff is currently negotiating a contract with gkkworks and will propose the architect selection to City Council on March 3, 2014. The firm has expertise in local government buildings including recreation buildings as well as the Los Angeles Police Administration Building that is currently under construction.
â€œI am pleased with our process and I am pleased with the outcome and I am very excited that we are actually moving forward,â€ assistant City Manager Steve Mermell said.
In September the City Council voted against the staff recommendation to hire Gonzalez Goodale Architects due to community complaints that the selection process did not include enough community involvement. Gonzalez Goodale chose to opt out of the second process.
Of the eight applicants for the second process, four made the final interview process and ggkworks came out on top. The firmâ€™s website indicates that each project the firm does is a collaboration of hearing what the community needs, a welcome concept in the Robinson Park discussion.
While the hottest topic of discussion among the steering committee has continually been community involvement, the project has seen few members of the community show interest in the process until Tuesdayâ€™s meeting.
More than 30 community members attended the meeting with several speaking during public comment about the concern of local hiring, including a recently formed group of Pasadenans calling themselves “New Seed: Reach One Teach One,” who will, they say, attend every meeting to monitor the fulfillment of local hire promises.
â€œThe meeting sounded like the same old thing. We are here in person, but they are going to give all of the jobs to somebody else. Nothing is going to change unless we keep coming to the meetings, we do not want to just talk, we want to see it happen,â€ Northwest Pasadena resident and representative of New Seed: Reach One Teach One Dino Wilburn said.
Ronald Matthews spoke during the public comment period about the possibility of generating at least 25 jobs. With enough time to prepare for the skilled positions, he said that several young men could be launched into a career with this project.
Hiring 16 Pasadena workers for two days for a total of $42,000 of the $2.5 million spent on workers in the first phase of Robinson Park was not of good faith according to Matthews.
Jim Morris, a community leader who has been instrumental in voicing the need for community involvement, was thrilled with the community turn out.
â€œNow people are taking notice that things can change in their own communities. Now we have a different firm because the question was asked by the Pasadena Community Coalition why do we have to accept what someone give us rather than having the people get what they want? Now we got what we want because of that community involvement,â€ Morris said.
As one of three community members representing the Pasadena Community Coalition who spoke in favor of the second selection process during his public comments at the September 16 City Council meeting, Morris is pleased with the second-time-around selection.
â€œIt makes it much better when people that live here and work here are reaching out to other people that live here and work here,â€ Morris said.
Steering Committee member James Smith was also encouraged by the amount of community members at the meeting.
â€œI think it was amazing. There is a link thatâ€™s missing, and I hope we can add that link. I always hear the community say they donâ€™t have access to jobs, but if we as a steering committee can help break that, even if we have to bring some of these to workers to some workshops. We are giving them access,â€ Smith said.
Community member Jill Shook who played an instrumental role in the recent gun buyback proposed a sculpture made with the melted guns from the buyback to be the public art piece included with the project. The City has a public art ordinance that requires all projects to complete public art equivalent to one percent of the amount of the project.
â€œGuns being melted into a sculpture would be a unique and powerful symbol to our youth that guns and violence can be turned into hope,â€ Chair of last yearâ€™s gun buy back Mike Veerman said.
The next Steering Committee meeting will be held Tuesday, February 25, 2014. The details of the contract with gkkworks and details about their firm will be presented at that meeting.
After the contract award on March 3, gkkworks hopes to host a kick-off community meeting prior to the end of the month of March.
â€œThere may be differences in opinion or differences in tactics but fundamentally everyone here wants the same thing. They want a quality project here in North-West Pasadena and we are going to give it them,â€ assistant City Manger Steve Mermell said.