Council approves funding for Waterfront Park concession stand improvements

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Agreeing Wednesday that the Waterfront Park’s concession stand needs to be repaired, Martinez City Council unanimously approved spending $65,000 form unassigned reserves for the work.

Repairing the concession stand, estimated at $45,000, wasn’t included in the recently-completed $8 million improvement of Waterfront Park, said Michael Chandler, deputy director of Administrative Services.

But they’re “much needed,” he told the Council, especially if the building is going to Contra Costa County Environmental Health standards. Plus, the roof has started to leak significantly, he said. That could cost about $17,000.

“We talked about this,” Councilmember Lara DeLaney said when Chandler assured her the concession stand wasn’t part of the Waterfront Park project that concluded in September 2018.

Chandler and outgoing Recreation Supervisor Patty Lorick said the lack of food service is impacting the park’s ballfield use for tournaments. Gone are the days at which parent organizations could bring in grills and sell hot dogs, they explained.

Vendors now have to be licensed and have health department approval, they explained.

The county’s Heath Department also must approve renovations to the concession stand, Lorick said, and city staff doesn’t want to be in the position of having made improvements only to have health officials require an expensive redo.

In the interim, Lorick said she’s been reaching out to the Department in hopes the building can be operational and a licensed vendor could be using it before the end of baseball and softball seasons.

Chandler said that in the meantime, city officials had invited food trucks to cater the events only to learn that vendors were worried whether they’d earn enough at the park to make their appearances economically feasible.

Chandler said the building’s walk-in freezer might be salvaged, and Vice Mayor Noralea Gipner suggested that rather buying all new items, the city use some fixtures from its concession stands that no longer are in use.

When she urged Lorick and Chandler to find other ways to save money, Lorick said the city has received designs for the renovations that were donated by a professional kitchen designer.

Caterer Louis Zandonella told the Council a good walk-in unit is essential if the concession stand is to get health department approval. “I have dealt with the health department. They are not fun,” he said. He urged the city to spend its money efficiently.

He said he’s examined the building, and said, “It’s rough.” He recommended moving the refrigerator compressor so it had more air space so it wouldn’t overheat and offered a few other suggestions he said he hoped would cut some costs.

In other action Wednesday, the Council extended its lease contract with the owners of Sal’s Family Kitchen, which is moving from its current building at 825 Escobar St., which the city has bought, to 823 Main St.

The city used parking money for the purchase, and previously said it would demolish the building to expand parking on that block. However, Economic Development Coordinator Zach Seal said the city would be seeking the “highest, best use” for the property.

The Council extended its lease with the restaurant through July 31 to allow more time for the move.

In other matters, the Council corrected its earlier action by hearing an oral report on a Management Compensation Plan, then approving the plan’s raises for unrepresented management and confidential employees comparable to those offered to members of Martinez Police Offficers Association.

On the consent calendar, it approved a modification of the commercial cannabis ordinance that would allow Firefly some consideration in the application process since the company’s original application for a medicinal dispensary no longer was viable when the new law was adopted.

By the same vote, the Council shifted back to the Measure H park bond fund the $703,890 it saved when the Hidden Lakes baseball fields were renovated at a much lower cost through the volunteer TLC for Kids’ Sports Program.

The Council also recognized Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members who volunteered their help to those affected by last year’s Paradise Fire, urged residents to participate in the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge and the Contra Costa County portion of the 2020 United States Census and a presentation by Team Willpower for “Will’s Walk for Autism” for Will Mulders, who participates with his father in marathons.

Members of Martinez’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) who volunteered during the Northern California wildfire that swept through the town of Paradise are recognized during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. (DONNA BETH WEILENMAN/MARTINEZ NEWS-GAZETTE)

Will’s Walk for Autism took place Saturday starting at Morello Hills Christian Church.

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