Council agrees to demolish downtown building

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During Monday’s meeting, City Council voted 6-0 to demolish an unreinforced masonry building on Monterey Street in downtown in order to create a city-owned pedestrian paseo connecting Monterey Street to Gourmet Alley.

City staff determined that the condition building, at 7453 Monterey Street is beyond repair, and bought the property in June for $183,000 with its destruction in mind.

In order to demolish a building according to city code, its destruction must not impact the historic character of the neighborhood. Staff determined that the building on Monterey does not have enough unique architecture of historical merit to warrant its restoration.  

Councilman Perry Woodward recused himself from the meeting, because he is a downtown property owner. 

Connie Rogers of the Gilroy Historical Society came during public comment representing herself, to suggest that the Historical Heritage Committee – which recommended the demolition of the building last month – should be at the table for discussions for the process of the building’s demolition and the construction of the paseo.

Mayor Al Pinheiro disagreed, as did Woodward, Councilwoman Cat Tucker and Councilman Peter Leroe-Munoz.

“I’m not sure if the HHC is privy to accompany the process,” Pinheiro said. “It’s not a structure, it’s just a paseo and there is nothing historical about it.”

The total cost of demolishing the building is estimated to be $428,000, not including the construction cost of the new paseo or the cost to purchase the property. Demolition of the building is not expected to take more than 90 days.

Also during Monday’s meeting:

A few Council members expressed frustration with staff for responding to their request to explore the possibility of naming the newly renovated San Ysidro Community Center after the late longtime city recreation department employee, and community volunteer John Garcia with a 15 page, “complicated” policy regarding the requirments to name a parks and recreation facility in somebody’s memorial.

“How are we going to be able to honor long standing families of Gilroy?” Councilman Cat Tucker said. “I don’t know if there is anyone that would qualify under all these requirements. It seems very restrictive, this policy.”

Staff came to Council Monday night with a 2004 city ordinance that lays out the specific requirements of the person in which a facility is to be named after, including mandating the person to have been dead for five years and lived in Gilroy for 20 or more years, to have been a donor of the land or someone who played a large role in its restoration or services, and to have been someone who contributed to the community directly through the parks and recreation system, and more. 

“I am sitting here wondering how something so simple got so complicated so fast?” Councilman Bob Dillon said. 

City Administrator Tom Haglund said staff was only responding to Council’s request with the policy that Council passed a few years back. He suggested that Council, if they are unhappy with the current ordinance, work on amending certain sections in order to “live within” their own policy. 

“I recommend we set a clear record and expectation relative to having a policy that the Council follows,” Haglund said. 

Without a formal vote, Council appointed Woodward and Councilman Dion Bracco to form a committee to look at restructuring the current policy. 

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