FOURTH TIME'S THE CHARM … It took far more time and money than anyone had expected, but Cameron Park is about to get a proper facelift, including a new playground, a new picnic area and a path from one end of the park to another. The city has been planning to renovate the 1.1-acre park in the College Terrace neighborhood for more than three years, though the effort has languished as the city struggled to find a contractor who could take on the project.
Palo Alto initially went out to bid on the project in March 2020 but the solicitation was canceled because of COVID-19 and a countywide shutdown on most construction projects, according to a city report. The city went out to bid again in July 2021 and May 2022, though in both cases, every bid was well higher than the project’s expected budget of about $200,000. Even though costs have only continued to climb since then, city officials are now preparing to bite the bullet to get the project going.
On Sept. 18, the City Council is set to approve a contract for $383,400 with OBS Engineering for the renovation project. OBS, which is also undertaking the much more ambitious renovation of the expanded Boulware Park in the Ventura neighborhood, was the sole bidder that responded to the city’s last request for proposals, which was issued in March.
The city expects the project to kick off this fall and take about 90 days to complete, according to a new report from the Community Services Department.
ADA-PTATION … About two dozen local nonprofits received some good news this week, when the Palo Alto City Council approved grants totaling more than $850,000 through the city's Human Services Resource Allocation Process (HSRAP). La Comida, LifeMoves, Kara, Alta Housing and Vista Center were among the 22 nonprofit groups that the Human Relations Commission selected for grants ranging from $6,000 to $92,893.
There was one nonprofit, however, that the City Council felt was severely shortchanged: Ada's Café, a beloved coffee shop at the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center that employs adults with disabilities. The café, which saw its funding dwindle during the pandemic and which requested $75,000 in HSRAP funding, received just $6,000 through the grant process. This week, council members lamented the commission's failure to give Ada's more money, particularly in light of the council's recent move to add about $200,000 to the grant program.
Rev. Kaloma Smith, who chairs the Human Relations Commission, defended its action, noting that its grant decisions are based not on their feelings about the nonprofit but on the programs for which funding is requested. In this case, the commission had to balance an Ada's proposal, which primarily benefits about 10 employees, with programs that would affect far more individuals.
The $50,000 that the commission recommended for the nonprofit WeHOPE, for example, will enable the nonprofit's mobile trailer to provide showers, laundry and case management services to far more people than it currently does, Smith said.
While the council voted 6-1, with Greg Tanaka dissenting, to approve the commission's recommendations, it also took another action: dipping into the city's budget reserves to provide $45,000 for Ada's Café.
"This organization has (provided) a valuable service to not only the disabled adults who work there but it is really the touchpoint of the entire community to disabled adults,” Council member Pat Burt said shortly before the vote. "This is where we interact with them, normalize these relationships, and build empathy toward them."