How much is a decorative archway worth?
That’s what the Lathrop City Council is going to be asking every rate-paying resident starting next month via mail after deciding to seek public input on whether to spend up to $500,000 for the ornate displays
Through a consensus decision the council agreed to spend in the neighborhood of $400 to send a questionnaire to residents through the water bills to see how they feel about the design and construction of the archways. They would be strategically placed throughout the community as a beautification and community pride enhancement.
Multiple examples included in the staff report showed an expansive design that stretched clear across the six-lane expressways like Lathrop Road as it approaches Lathrop High School – also known as Spartan Way – and included intricate metal and stonework that would be open for decision during the design phase.
Whether the city is willing to shell out the money, however, will ultimately come down to a decision by the people.
Councilman Steve Dresser said that he favored sending representatives to public events like Lathrop’s upcoming Beautification Day to handout surveys while Vice Mayor Omar Ornelas took it a step further by suggesting that the city look into sending one to all residents the same way they did when recently soliciting logo and slogan pitches.
In the eyes of Martha Salcedo, it was ultimately the public’s money and they have a right to decide how to spend it.
“I’m not saying that this is a bad idea but I like to hear from the public because this is their money and I want to know if this is something that they really want,” she said. “We live in the greatest country in the world – one where the majority has the vote. We have plenty of opportunities to go out and do exactly what Mr. Dresser said – find out what people want.”
The city spent between $300 and $400 sending color fliers to every resident in their last water bill to solicit for the slogan and logo entries, and to date has received just fewer than 70 responses.
Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, who ultimately made the suggestion that the matter be tabled until the poll of public opinion were to finally come back, said that any civic project is going to cost money – noting that the city was ready to build the Generations Center on its own before grant funding came through and enabled the addition of perks that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
“This is something that’s going to be beautiful, and if we’re going to make the city look better than it does, it’s going to cost money,” he said. “If you want have a nice-looking house with a green lawn you have to spend money. You get the weeds for free.”