The Cotati City Council voted Tuesday to give the Caltrans St. Joseph Park and Ride along Highway 101 a major overhaul and awarded the redesign project to BKF engineers, who hope to revitalize the underused 166 space park and ride lot.
To start the project off, the city first issued a request for design proposals from various companies, however, during that time, the city received only one project proposal and the idea went forgotten for a period of time until a second request for designs was made. Yet the city ran into the same problem, only a mere single proposal was received and in the first few months of the new year, one last request was made in the hope that the project could somehow see the light of day.
But why such a lack of interest in a project that could be aid to commuters? While the average commute travel time for Sonoma County residents is only 22 minutes, according Datausa.com, around 3.57 percent of the county’s workforce has a “super commute” time upwards of 90 minutes. And of that population, around 11.9 percent carpool and 1.8 percent take public transit, which would merit the need for a place to park your car for your commute to work.
According to the agenda item report prepared by City Manager Damien O’Bid, city staff talked with designers to try and figure out why there was such a lack of interest in the project.
And as stated in the report, “... Many design firms did not submit project proposals because working with Caltrans can be very complicated and time consuming and the project is small relative to work effort needed.”
The St. Joseph Way site is also the same parcel of land that the city agreed to sell to a local family who intend to develop a boutique brand of Hard Rock Hotels and upon looking at the one 2018 proposal submitted by BKF, city staff decided to stick with BKF engineers after review of other offered proposals.
“BKF engineers was reviewed against earlier proposals to ensure that the proposal was reasonable in scope and cost,” the agenda report stipulates.
O’Bid explained that the cost of the project adequately reflects the size of the project and that after reviewing the other bid, staff determined that this group of engineers would be best for the project.
“It is the best cost for the design in terms of what we need to do,” O’Bid said.
Additionally, Cotati decided to go with BKF since the engineers have the prior experience needed working with these sorts of projects that are in conjunction with other entities such as Caltrans.
“(They) have the expertise to successfully run this project through Caltrans,” O’Bid wrote.
While many of the council members voiced their support for the BKF engineers to take on the park and ride facelift, Cotati resident Laurie Alderman voiced her concerns regarding the overall project,
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saying that it’s worrying that the project states that it will be getting a chunk of its funding from a property tax disbursement. The other source of funding for the project will be from the sale proceeds of the property to a local Sonoma County family who hope to develop the area for a smaller, boutique version of Hard Rock Hotels. She also had concerns that as the hotel project on the same piece of land started as a development agreement, there should have been an opportunity for more public input. However, as of Tuesday, the city is calling that project a “disposition” or sale agreement.
However, Cotati Mayor Mark Landman said he believes the project will be good and congratulated city staff for being able to work alongside the project with Caltrans, an often tricky aspect.
“We got the deal with Caltrans and that’s a lot of work,” Landman said.
For many years the St. Joseph park and ride was underused due to wear and tear, the overly large amount of spaces and the other more popular park and ride locations along Highway 101 near Rohnert Park. In 2014, the city had created a Functional Replacement and Exchange Agreement for the site with Caltrans, which identified two other park and ride sites that should be erected. One, at Airport Boulevard near Santa Rosa and one at Petaluma Boulevard South (which is already in use but could do with more parking spots). In exchange for helping with the two other sites, the title for the park and ride will be transferred to Cotati. Caltrans will still keep 30 spaces at the Cotati site.
The redesign for the new park and ride includes fresh, 20-year life pavement and high quality water drainage. In addition to the project plan the engineers would also have to plan to prepare a “Biological Technical Memo,” a survey of the biological life in the project area and how it could be affected.
Costs for the park and ride revamp are estimated to be around $411,211 with the possibility of putting down another $71,211 for other project work and review that Caltrans may require.
If everything goes smoothly, the new park and rides will be opened and operational one year from its groundbreaking.