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City Council cancels parks plan outreach contract

The grand opening of the new Cultural Arts District Park, located at Calaveras and Fulton Streets, was held Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in downtown Fresno, Calif. The large upright structures feature motion-controlled lighting.
The grand opening of the new Cultural Arts District Park, located at Calaveras and Fulton Streets, was held Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in downtown Fresno, Calif. The large upright structures feature motion-controlled lighting. Fresno Bee file photo

Fresno City Council members voted Thursday to cancel a $172,000 contract with a local public relations team to conduct community outreach for a long-awaited city Parks Master Plan.

The cancellation of the contract with Bertz-Rosa Strategy & Creative could save about $150,000, said City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who joined three other council members – Esmeralda Soria, Steve Brandau and Clint Olivier – who in October voted against awarding the contract in the first place. Bredefeld joined the City Council in January, replacing now-Mayor Lee Brand, who was one of the council majority voting for the contract.

Bredefeld and Soria co-sponsored the resolution to cancel the contract. Their resolution also directs that the savings be used for park maintenance at the city’s existing parks.

Bredefeld and Soria said the city’s contract with the consultants who are preparing the Parks Master Plan already included expenses for community outreach.

“I think it’s a waste of money,” Bredefeld told his council colleagues. “Sometimes (these contracts) seem to be a duplication of services or something our staff could do where we don’t need to spend money.”

City Manager Bruce Rudd said it was the council’s prerogative to cancel the contract if the members wished. But, he cautioned, the new Parks Master Plan now being developed will eventually require Fresno to engage the community in a substantial discussion about the significant costs to maintain the city’s current inventory of parks and recreation facilities, and to provide a reality check about the costs to build and maintain future parks.

“The goal of this (contract) was to get that information out through community meetings,” Rudd said.

Neither representatives from Bertz-Rosa nor its subcontractors, Catalano Fenske & Associates and Fresno Building Healthy Communities, were at the council meeting.

Councilmen Paul Caprioglio, who cast one of the original votes for the contract in October, and council newcomer Luis Chavez voted against the Bredefeld/Soria resolution. Councilman Oliver Baines, who supported the contract last fall, was absent from Thursday’s meeting.

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