FILE PHOTO Work on a stretch of Santa Teresa Boulevard was halted last December when ruts were discovered in the new pavement. Granite Construction spent the past several months developing a repair plan, which the city is currently reviewing
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Council members wrestled with First Amendment issues, library safety and construction/demolition projects during Monday night’s regular meeting.

Council approves over-the-street banners

With Mayor Pro Tempore Perry Woodward absent, City Council voted 6-0 to approve temporary over-the-street banners advertising community events. The banners will be hung across Monterey Street above pedestrian crossings located mid-block between Fourth and Fifth streets and Fifth and Sixth streets.

In addition to the City announcing events that the City sponsors, Gilroy-based nonprofits will also have the opportunity to put up a banner for a two-week period, providing the event is open to the public, community orientated, non-political, non-commercial and non-sectarian, explained Gilroy’s Development Center Manager Lee Butler.

Seeking to allay Council members’ fears over First Amendment challenges if they refuse to allow an entity to hoist a banner over the street, Acting City Attorney Andy Faber clarified the difference between ‘Public Forum’ and ‘Government Speech’ using an analogy about a City bulletin board.

“If you simply had an unlocked bulletin board outside and allowed any member of the public to post on it, that would be a public forum,” Faber said. “If some racist, hate-filled organization wanted to announce a community event, you couldn’t censor it.”

Faber reasoned: “Don’t be put off by the term ‘Government Speech.’”

It is, he explained, just a name that the courts have come up with to differentiate things that aren’t in the public forum.

Pavement and sidewalk projects around the city

Council voted 6-0 to approve three bids for pavement and sidewalk projects around the city.

Councilman Dion Bracco was aggrieved about the $83,684 contract awarded to Nor-Cal Contractors to upgrade 16 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps on sidewalk corners around the city.

“Why are they taking out ADA ramps and replacing them with ADA ramps?” Bracco demanded.

City Administrator Tom Haglund stepped into Bracco’s firing line and explained that the existing ADA ramps on the corners are old are no longer in compliance with ADA requirements.

Council also approved the $244,798 bid by American Asphalt Repair and Resurfacing Co., Inc. for extensive pavement work required around the city as part of the Vehicle Emissions Reductions Based at Schools (VERBS) Program. VERBS focuses on reducing greenhouse gases by promoting walking, biking, transit and carpooling to school.

Completing the trifecta, Council approved a $172,292.10 bid from Windsor Fuel Company to carry out extensive pavement work along Church Street from First to 10th streets. The work will include slurry sealing, hole repair, striping and signage.

Council tackles library safety

Council voted 6-0 to approve the design and installation of a 150-foot, wave-shaped, Plexiglas barrier along the top of the second floor balcony wall at the new Gilroy Library.

Citing safety concerns about children using furniture to get on top of the balcony wall, Council voted to use $23,690 of Library Bond revenue to get the barrier erected as soon as possible. Councilman Dion Bracco was amazed that it had taken Council a year to get around to sorting the problem out.

“Kids were doing this on opening day,” Bracco remarked. “I’m positive if one of our local stores were operating with this hazard, then it wouldn’t have taken a year to get in front of Council.”

Mayor Don Gage agreed with the thrust of Councilman Bracco’s concerns.

“We need to be more aggressive on protecting ourselves from lawsuits,” Gage asserted.

It was left to Councilman Peter Arellano to have the final word on the subject of improved safety at the library.

“There’s nothing that’s 100 percent,” he reasoned. “I’m not thinking this will stop a determined kid.”

Council approves Dowdy Street demolition

During the consent calendar roll-call vote, Council approved the $60,000 demolition of the City-owned property located at 7390 Dowdy Street to further the goals of the Civic Center Master Plan. The empty home was built in 1945 and will be razed to the ground. The vacant lot will be turned into a lawn.

The next scheduled City Council meeting will take place at 6 p.m. April 15 in the Council Chambers located at 7351 Rosanna St.

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