Paso Robles City Council narrowly allows fencing

The Paso Robles City Council narrowly allowed fencing as part of the second half of a project to add a sidewalk along Riverside Avenue across from the Paso Robles Event Center.

The council, voting 3-2 with Mayor Duane Picanco and Councilman Nick Gilman dissenting, approved black iron fencing with a leaf pattern near the top, as well as a new sidewalk, street trees and decorative streetlights along the west side of Riverside Avenue between 21st and 24th streets.

At the council’s July 20 meeting, Picanco and Gilman said they disliked the fence for different reasons. Picanco said he thought the leaf design was “too extravagant,” while Gilman thought the project would function better without the fence entirely.

The fence, to be installed between the parking lot and new sidewalk on Riverside Avenue’s west side, is designed to keep people from jaywalking across Riverside Avenue and instead provide openings that direct them to the crosswalks.

Ultimately, the council’s majority asked that the fence be redesigned to allow more pedestrian openings to the new sidewalk.

Construction is expected to last from mid-September to mid-December, according to city staff. The city will work with the event center so there’s no conflict with the equestrian events planned in the fall, staff added.

In 2007, the city received grant funding for the two-phase project to improve the event center area for pedestrians. The money comes from the voter-approved State Workforce Housing Reward Grant as well as federal Community Block Grant funding.

The first phase revamped a crosswalk in front of the main gate for about $54,000 in summer 2008.

The council also approved the $276,900 bid for the second-phase work from C3 Construction & Development Inc. The Paso Robles-based contractor was the second-lowest bid out of nine submitted to the city. The lowest bid wasn’t accepted because it was mistakenly written for San Luis Obispo, according to the city attorney, but it couldn’t be fixed after the bids were open.

The project doesn’t affect the city’s general fund, which pays for city services such as police, fire and parks and which is being hit by the recession.

Because the grants made $434,000 available for the project, the city can direct any remaining money to projects that use Community Block Grants with Paso Robles.