The third time adopting a resolution to accept a per capital allocation from the State of California was a charm last week for the City of Colusa.
The Council City’s pursuit of its allocation of a $177,000 grant from Proposition 68 started in January but had to be brought back to the council because of a posting error on the agenda.
The City Council successfully adopted the resolution at their Feb. 16 meeting, but officials brought it back to the March 2 meeting to affirm that the money will be used to construct a splash pad at A.B. Davison Park.
City Manager Jesse Cain said he wanted to clarify that the splash pad did not just arise from requests during community meetings held over the summer and fall, but over a period of more than a decade.
“The council actually decided to do a splash pad more than 15 years ago,” Cain said. “They had public meetings. Back then they couldn’t get the funding. The splash pad is something the citizens here have always wanted, and the city has done work in the past in trying to make it happen. They’ve just been unsuccessful in getting grants.”
In March 2020, the Colusa Swim Team, whose principals participated in the community workshops required for the Proposition 68 Statewide Park Program, offered to pay $4,000 for the conceptual drawings for the splash pad to help move the project forward, and offered to help maintain the feature, according to public records obtained by the Pioneer Review.
At the time, the city was applying for a Colusa County CDBG grant, which was not granted, for the construction of shade, seating, and landscaping at the Colusa City Pool, and the preliminary conceptual designs for a splash pad at AB Davison Park. The grant application also requested funds for a four-stall ADA compliant restroom at Memorial Park, the purchase of the Colusa Theater for use as a community center, and ADA compliant sidewalks and lighting at Main and 5th Streets.
While the actual construction of a splash pad was not a part of the $469,000 grant request, the Colusa Swim Team offered the funding to help the city move forward with projects that could significantly increase pool attendance and provide recreation to Colusa County residents, including low/very low-income populations.
“I just wanted to clear this up that this (project) did not happen overnight,” Cain said.
According to the resolution, the city was obligated to create partnerships with private and nonprofit organizations to provide park access to diverse populations and to select a project that would increase visitation and access by minority, low-income, and disabled populations.
But the resolution also required the city, to the extent practical, to mentor new environmental and conservation leaders to increase diverse representation across those areas as well.
The Proposition 68 per capita grant is a direct allocation that comes to cities from a $4 billion taxpayer funded natural resources bond, which voters approved when they passed the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018.
While the City Council affirmed their intent to use the per capita allocation on a water feature that utilizes groundwater before its reclaimed, treated, and reused to irrigate farmland, city officials said they did not engage water conservationists or seek comment from the Colusa County Groundwater Authority, the new local regulatory agency tasked with implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which was signed into law in 2014.
According to a survey, Colusa residents have asked the city for a 1,200 square foot splash pad, which sprays about 146 gallon of water per minute, despite indications by groundwater officials that California is once again reaching drought conditions because of climate change.
While the splash pad had been a popular request by citizens in 2009, when the city updated its park master plan, Gov. Jerry Brown, on April 1, 2015, ordered the first statewide mandatory water restriction in response to a devastating multi-year drought and directed all cities and communities to reduce water usage by 25 percent, to save some 1.5 million acre-feet of water over nine months.
In response to potential fines of up to $10,000 per day for non-compliance, most municipalities shut down their water features at parks, limited the watering of trees and lawns to early morning, and encouraged their citizens to take shorter showers, turn the faucet off while brushing their teeth, use washing machines and dishwashers for full loads only, and use self-closing nozzles on hoses to wash cars and driveways to conserve groundwater.
While the splash pad will utilize groundwater, Cain said the water would be recycled for beneficial use when it is treated and released for irrigation.
The resolution approving the application for the grant funds past 4-0-1, with Councilman Greg Ponciano abstaining because the resolution was previous approved.