Arroyo Grande’s chances to build a centennial park may have slipped away in the early morning mist of Feb. 10. After a contentious and excruciatingly long-winded city council meeting—it lasted six and a half hours and ended at 1:30 a.m.—only Mayor Tony Ferraro supported the plan to build a park facing the main street of the village of Arroyo Grande.
The council sent the issue back to the city staffers, asking them and the developer of the project, NKT Commercial, to come up with a plan to create a centennial park that would be built along Arroyo Grande Creek.
The proposed park was part of a complicated plan that would have cost the city $1.2 million and involved the city swapping a building known as “the malt shop” in exchange for a newer and larger office building. The developer would have demolished the old, classic city building and replaced it with a 5,700-square-foot commercial structure. The plan would have allowed many of the city staffers to move out of their tight quarters and into a space with room to grow. The centennial park would have been built fronting Branch Street, on what is now a small section of Short Street. The park would have eliminated the street, an action that soured much of the public on the project.
Ferraro said the vote on the park would be a “defining moment” for the city and presented his vision for the future of the city in a 25-minute multimedia presentation. Projecting images of vast parking lots in Paso Robles and Atascadero and Front Street in Avila Beach as examples to emulate, he explained how the project would begin to push future parking spaces away from the main street of the village, Branch Street. He also cast doubt on the validity of the more 300 signatures the council had received protesting the project, implying that some of the names were gathered under false pretences.
City Councilman Chuck Fellows, along with the other remaining city council members, rejected the plan, and said he didn’t want Arroyo Grande to end up looking like Paso Robles or Avila Beach. He wanted to preserve Short Street.
Fellows also said he didn’t want to add more debt to the city for a project the public doesn’t want. ∆