“It is hoped that if enough votes are cast tonight, construction will resume on Barbara’s Park and joyfully bells will ring all around town. Talent is already lined up to play, sing, dance and teach.“
Sedona AZ (March 18, 2013) – The Sedona City Council Wednesday night failed to pass a proposal to begin reconstructing the Barbara Antonson Memorial Park (BAMP) dome. In the final 4 to 3 vote, the council sent the park dome component back to city staff for recommendations. The no vote on the dome reconstruction did not kill the BAMP project. The upshot after the 4-3 vote called for staff to schedule a meeting to discuss options for moving forward.
Amid concerns by Mayor Adams that the meeting might be contentious, words of caution to be respectful of one another preceded a group hug by all in attendance. The Mayor promised the mood of the meeting would be kept light. That being said, Mayor Adams also expressed concerns about the length of the meeting and suggested only 2 citizens speak: one in favor of continuing the construction and one opposed. After settling the issue of whether the public forum should include all who filled out comment cards, over a dozen citizens spoke. Of those who spoke, two expressed concerns and one spoke against renewing the project.
City Manager Tim Ernster summarized the background on the park. Tim identified several points about the construction based on the forensic report, noting that the collapse of the dome was not a flawed design, but rather a result of the lack of shoring on the front section of the dome and incorrect application of the shotcrete that forms the dome.
Following the delivery of the forensic report by investigators Starling Madison Lofguist, Inc., in November, 2012, city staff and all members of the construction team met and identified what needed to be done to correct the deficiencies and allow the dome construction to resume. These points included identifying why the collapse occurred, what were the costs to resume construction and was everyone agreeable to share those costs? The city’s portion would have been $7,625 and the Friends of the Posse Grounds agreed to contribute $12,950 in cash. Some say no good deed goes unpunished.
Additionally, all parties must be agreeable to accept the recommendations made by the forensic investigators. With the construction team agreeing to all conditions, staff saw no reason why the construction should not go forward and recommended a yes vote on the issue. It appeared all concerns were addressed.
On the other hand, the council was not so agreeable. The final vote of 4 to 3 to not go forward with the rebuilding sent Barbara’s Park in a different direction. “If it was my house and it fell down half way through the construction, I wouldn’t go with the same contractor and engineer. I’d find an alternative” said Councilor Litrell. Councilor Martinez stated “Honor Barbara Antonson yes, but the dome structure no.” Councilor Williamson wants to honor the commitment made to the community. Two factors influenced Councilor Ward’s support. He wanted to support what the three previous city councils had supported and the $600,000 Heritage Fund Grant also weighed heavily. Application of the Heritage funds has changed so that it is no longer a factor. Councilor DiNunzio felt that would add to the public’s mistrust of government and that this would divide the community. In spite of not having a guaranty of indemnification for further actions, Councilor McIlroy supported the reconstruction. Mayor Adams had concerns that the subs were unlicensed in Arizona and, in his opinion, costs, acoustics, safety, and still outstanding neighbors’ concerns were unanswered.
For now, it’s back to square one. The Friends of the Posse Grounds board will most certainly be burning the midnight oil, reentering a period of strategizing on the park. They have spent 11 years and untold funds getting to this place. Some have said this group never gives up. Given the willingness to complete this project, a solution must be just around the next bend. What we all must remember is the reason for the park: to honor the woman who gave so much of herself: Barbara Antonson.