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Council talks landscaping, weeds
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Landscaping along the renovated section of Fourth Street in downtown Ceres will be performed by Grover Landscaping for an annual cost of $31,500 after the Ceres City Council approval of a contract on July 27.

Vice Mayor Linda Ryno pulled the item and wanted to know if Grover would be plucking out the stray palm trees popping up in the landscape area. Public Works Director Jeremy Damas said the unwanted trees will be dug up or sprayed.

The council also awarded a $378,385 contract to Joe’s Landscaping to install landscaping in the Westpointe area of Ceres.

Ryno delved into the actual construction plans since it was learned last minute that some of the trees have to be removed because the new Quint fire engine hits them. She noted that some of the trees to be planted are in conflict with the engine. Ryno wanted to know which trees were marked for removal to know how it would affect plans.

“To me we’re being asked to approve a plan but we already know it’s really not the plan because they’re going to be taking out I don’t know how many trees,” said Ryno.

City Manager Tom Westbrook said some the trees that are troublesome are not in the medians but some of those in the landscaped areas in front of homes. Damas said he was going to work out a plan with West Coast Arborists, the city’s contractor for tree pruning.

She also had questions about the planned cobblestone to be installed in some medians.

“We’ve gone so many years with how bad that looks that when we re-do it I want it to be something that we can be proud of, that it does fit the bill,” said Ryno.

City Engineer Daniel Padilla said the same cobble that appears along the bike path at Service and Roeding is about the same size that will be installed at Aristocrat and Malik. He said the cobble will vary in size between four-inch and six-inch rock. 

Ryno expressed hopes that weeds would not pop up in the new landscaping.

“I have this thing about weeds and I don’t want to have some new project that we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on and then in a year have little weeds spouting up that we don’t have the staff to go out there and pull them,” said Ryno, “and in a year I’m going to be 67 and I’m not going to be able to go out there and pull those weeds, I’m just saying.”

Padilla said he couldn’t offer a guarantee.

In other action, Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra issued a proclamation last week that declared July as Parks and Recreation Month.

Recreation Manager Matthew Lohr offered an overview of improvements planned for the various parks. He said improvements are being finished up on the lower terrace of the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park, the renovation of the soccer fields at the same park; and installation of water efficiency equipment for multiple parks.

Lohr also mentioned how multiple city departments are involved in the designing of the design for Eastgate Park. Construction is anticipated soon.

In April the City Council awarded a $858,894 contract to Ross F. Carroll, Inc. to begin grading the site for the new Eastgate Park as well as grass planting by hydroseeding and installing concrete walk, curbs, concrete benches, volleyball sand court, playground/exercise equipment, cornhole game boards, horseshoe pits, drinking fountain, trash cans and wayfinding signs.

He also mentioned improvements for Roeding Heights Park with Prop. 68 funds.

Lohr said the Recreation Department “has had a lot of great successes … and some challenges with the whole COVID.” The city expanded for three to nine business partners to offer parks and recreation programs with increases number of classes.

The city also offered virtual classes during the pandemic lockdown.

Also at the July 27 council meeting, the mayor presented a certificate of appreciation for the instructors of the Project Spark program. Turlock High freshman Nihal Gill initiated free “Project Spark” classes in Ceres earlier this year at the Ceres Community Center for students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades. His classes focused on providing STEM education to elementary school students in Ceres, with an emphasis on robotics. The monthly class included guest speakers from engineering and robotics industries along with hands-on projects.