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Park restroom project costs climb
Ryno outvoted in rejection of park project add-ons
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The city of Ceres has ordered the current restrooms at Whitmore Park (at right) and Smyrna Park to be replaced. The existing block buildings will be converted to storage buildings for seasonal decorations. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Work on new restrooms at both Smyrna and Whitmore parks climbed last week by $7,500.

The Ceres City Council voted 4-1 to approve a contract change order to increase the funding for the project from $314,237 to $321,937. The reason for the change is because the city wants to convert the old block restrooms to storage buildings and interior work, such as interior stall wall and plumbing removal, and that work was not included in the original contract, according to Engineering Project Manager Len Guillette. The contractor will also remove and replace with matching brick the doors on either ends of the buildings.

Councilmember Linda Ryno was resistant about the additional funds being allocated, asking if there was another use in a city park that could benefit from the funds.

"Is there anything in the downtown area that we could use the $7,700 on?" asked Ryno of City Manager Toby Wells. He explained that the project is being funded out of redevelopment bond proceeds and that the City Council already decided to allocate $1.5 million of the RDA bonds on downtown infrastructure.

Ryno persisted, asking "Is there anything in a park that we could use the $7,700 one, other than making the old bathroom into a storage area?" Wells said his staff felt the storage was a "highest priority."

Ryno suggested city staff doing the work and using the funds elsewhere "that would benefit the community more."

Wells said the on-site storage will benefit the community by allowing the storage of Christmas festival items and the Ceres Street Faire without parks staff spending time hauling them to and from the parks.

"We do see a community benefit by ... allowing staff to be a little more responsive for those setups and takedowns," said Wells.

Ryno said she wasn't debating the use of the old restrooms as storage.

Wells had the last word when he suggested that $7,700 "in the grand scheme, that's not very much money in terms of projects." He said it might by one slide in another park.

Ryno was on the short end of a 4-1 vote on spending the extra funds.