City puts brakes on $70K Wall of Fame

DOWNEY – After a public backlash, the Downey City Council this week agreed to scale back a proposed “Wall of Fame” outside City Hall that would have cost up to $70,000. Originally proposed by Councilman Mario Guerra in 2011, the memorial would pay tribute to Downey residents who “contribute to the city’s goals and visions.”

Guerra, however, said he “almost had a heart attack” when he saw the $70,000 price tag.

On Tuesday, council members created a subcommittee composed of Guerra and Councilman Alex Saab who will explore ways to create the memorial but at a lesser cost.

If built, honorees will have their photo displayed on a wall outside City Hall after annual installation celebrations each June.

Under the original plan, nominations would be accepted from the community and go through a citizen review panel, although council members would have final say on who is memorialized.

Philanthropist Dr. Mary Stauffer would likely be among the first honorees, Guerra said.

“Each person inducted to the Wall of Fame should embody qualities that are important to the members of the community and contribute to the city’s goals and visions,” public works director Mohammad Mostahkami wrote in a staff report to council members.

City staffers estimated the Wall of Fame would have cost up to $70,000 due to work in designing and building the wall, relocating a roof drain, installing wall lighting, and reconfiguring existing hardscaping and landscaping.

The project would be funded with Art in Public Places funds, according to the staff report.

Not all residents were enamored with the thought of a Wall of Fame.

“If you have money to spend, consider replacing the very old playground equipment at Furman Park,” Kimberly Buss wrote on the Patriot’s public Facebook page. “Great park but compared to Rio San Gabriel Park or Dennis the Menace or even Treasure Island, it’s sadly old and outdated.”

“What they should consider is bringing back free Wi-Fi to the library,” added Alida Fernandez Chacon. “Two hours free and then $3 an hour after that. Horrible to way offer services to the community.”

Local teacher and community leader George Redfox also does not like the idea of a Wall of Fame financed by public art funds.

“I was on the original Art in Public Places Committee and this was not the way this fund was intended to be used,” Redfox wrote on the Patriot’s website. “This funding is suppose to be used to hire professional artists to create unique pieces of public art to be displayed around the city at large. This fund is now being used to fund special projects. I (wonder) who came up with the idea for the wall? It is an election year.”


•Street repairs on Lakewood Boulevard in north Downey may finally get underway next month after the City Council awarded a $3.9 million contract to Sully-Miller Contract Company on Tuesday.

The project encompasses Lakewood Boulevard between Florence Avenue and Gallatin Road. A separate contract will be issued at a later time for Lakewood between Gallatin and Telegraph roads.

The vote to award the contract was 4-1. Councilman Mario Guerra dissented, saying he needed more project details.

In addition to street repairs, the project calls for widened streets, a third traffic lane, ornamental street lighting, traffic signal upgrades, and new water mains, trees, benches and trash receptacles.

Construction is expected to begin in June and be substantially complete by September, city officials said.

•The City Council created a subcommittee comprised of Roger Brossmer and Alex Saab to examine ways to improve the city’s website.

Downey’s website received a substantial upgrade in 2009, at a cost of $48,790.

The subcommittee will determine whether the website needs a substantial overhaul with intranet and mobile services, or a simple “facelift.”

Their evaluation will be presented to the City Council at a later date.

•AT&T and City Manager Gilbert Livas will resume negotiations on a proposed cell tower at Discovery Sports Complex.

AT&T is hoping to install a cell antenna on an existing 80-ft. light pole behind centerfield of the eastern softball field.

Council members, however, would like the antenna to be disguised as an 80-ft. rocket next to the Columbia Memorial Space Center. The rocket would give the space center greater visibility, council members said.

The rocket ship was briefly considered by AT&T but ultimately abandoned due to its high cost.

AT&T officials said they would meet with Livas to resume negotiations, which have been ongoing since 2012.

•Downey continues to move closer to bicycle lanes after hiring a consultant to guide the creation of a bicycle master plan.

Fehr and Peers Transportation Consultants will help prepare and develop the plan, a policy framework identifying active transportation as a travel alternative and a strategy for meeting the mobility needs of residents, workers and visitors.

“Currently the city has a lack of designated on-street bicycle facilities, although the city has relatively good access to the Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo Channel and San Gabriel River bike paths,” public works director Mohammad Mostahkami wrote in a report to council members. “Through the bicycle master plan, the existing street system will be reviewed for feasibility in terms of the establishment of bicycle routes for connectivity within the city as well as between the city and origins and destinations external to the city.”

Cost to prepare the bicycle master plan is estimated at $175,000. A state transportation grant will cover the majority of the cost, with Downey paying a required $25,000 local match.

•Kevin MacDonald, executive director of The Arc -- Los Angeles & Orange Counties, was presented by Mayor’s Healthy Heart Award by Mayor Fernando Vasquez.



Published: May 15, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 05