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Sidewalk Project Riddled With Bureaucracy

POSTED June 14, 2011 3:52 p.m.

The mayor, public works personnel, and the senior citizen advisory commission all want to put in a reasonably priced sidewalk at the northwest corner of A Street and Yosemite Avenue. The only hold-up seems to be what is described as “bureaucratic red tape” if the city is involved.

“It’s so absurd,” said Mayor Pat Paul about the delay in getting the sidewalk completed. “Why are we making it so difficult?”

The 95-foot strip of land is part of an undeveloped parcel owned by the A.L. Gilbert Company. During inclement weather the dirt path bordering A Street can be difficult to maneuver for seniors and others who take the route to destinations of the senior center or who walk to the downtown district.

Paul said she looked into matter and contacted Richard Murdoch of Murdoch Development, who told her he would complete the sidewalk as a service to the seniors and the city for only the cost of materials, quoting her $1,850.

At that cost, Jay Gilbert told Paul he would pay the total cost to install the sidewalk on the company’s property.

When it was brought to his attention earlier this year, former City Manager Steve Hallam proposed the project to be a joint venture between the city and A.L. Gilbert and funding would be evenly split between the two parties.

The funding source of the city’s portion was going to be through the Oakdale Redevelopment Agency.

According to Public Works Director Joe Leach, since public funds were going to be used in the payment of the project, certain criteria had to be met such as engineering plans and specifications, inspections, and compensation of prevailing wages.

With those standards, the cost of the project turned out to be $7,250 for construction and materials and an additional $2,700 for an engineering survey of the site for a total cost of $9,950.

The A.L. Gilbert Company declined to pay their $4,975 portion for the project since they were not using the land, especially with a quote of $1,850 earlier.

“This is embarrassing and a black eye to the city,” said Paul. “This goes to show why sometimes government doesn’t work.”

Councilman Michael Brennan also said he also knew of a contractor that would install the sidewalk for the city as long as the city covered the cost of any permits or inspections.

“An engineer is an unnecessary expense,” said Brennan. “If I was re-doing my driveway and did this it wouldn’t be $9,000.”

Another part of the formality, according to Leach, may be a needed permit from Caltrans since Yosemite Avenue is part of State Route 120 and a signal box is at the dirt location controlling the intersection.

“I’ve been an outlaw most of my life,” commented Brennan on going around notifying Caltrans and just getting the project done. “Caltrans has never impressed me.”

“This is the perfect project for a community group to partner with the property owner to get the job done,” Leach agreed, which could be a way of going around the restrictions the public works department would have to operate under. “If the city is not involved with the project, it would only require the permit and inspection phase.”

Paul has suggested that the city waive its permit cost as it has done with other public service projects such as the public restrooms at the airport that were built by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

“Look for the community service group called ‘Friends of Mike Brennan and Pat Paul’ to be out there schlepping cement soon,” said Paul. “I have no problem pushing a wheelbarrow.”

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