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Plaza costs fuel delays, frustration

Veterans Plaza sunshades” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council is scheduled to issue an update Tuesday on the installation of sunshades at Veterans Community Plaza, above. The council approved a $60,000 budget when the Rotary Club of Los Altos committed to donating $11,000, but little has been done, reports project head Ron Labetich.

Delays in improvements to Veterans Community Plaza in downtown Los Altos are leaving at least one major supporter frustrated.

Ron Labetich, who spearheaded the effort to change the plaza’s name from Community Plaza to honor the sacrifices of veterans, committed $11,000 raised from his fellow members of the Rotary Club of Los Altos to upgrade the plaza, including installing sunshades. But since the city council gave the go-ahead last December with a $60,000 budget, little work has transpired.

“Ninety days have elapsed with no communication from the bureaucracy,” Labetich lamented.

City Manager Chris Jordan attributed the delay to money – or lack thereof.

“We have done a request for proposals, but the cost of landscape architect services far exceeded the direction we had received from the council,” Jordan said. “The council gave direction to limit the city’s costs on this project to $60,000. The landscape architect design fee was going to be about $50,000. Therefore, there would be almost nothing to spend on the shades and materials. That’s why we’ve delayed the project pending further direction from the council.”

The plaza improvements are scheduled for city council discussion Tuesday. The focus will be on the sunshades and “the extent of any planned improvements,” Jordan said.

Labetich also wants the plaza signage to include the word “Veterans,” per its updated name. He noted that landscaping obscures the current sign altogether.

“The name change occurred 18 months ago and, as of today, there is no new lettering on the back of the wall,” Labetich said late last month. “What should be done is the tired rose bushes should be replaced with low, maintenance-free California plants and the new lettering on the wall so one can see the signage. I don’t think this is too much to ask.”

Jordan said there is no current plan for new lettering.

“But I will note that the current lettering does not reflect the old name of the plaza – it merely welcomes people to Los Altos,” Jordan said.

According to Jordan, city staff reviewed the plant materials at the plaza and developed a plan to change out the plants. That should be accomplished this month, he added.

The downtown plaza is located at the intersection of Main and State streets.

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