By Tim Hunt
Celebrating a long overdue groundbreakingUploaded: May 24, 2016
Smiles were the order of the windy day last Friday when MidPen Housing and the Pleasanton City Council celebrated the groundbreaking of phase one of Kottinger Gardens.
Construction already is underway and residents have been temporarily relocated from the former Kottinger Place that the city oversaw through its housing authority. The celebration took place after the council gave unanimously approved to a project that combined two aging senior housing projects, Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens, into a single entity. It will more than double the amount of very affordable senior housing.
The groundbreaking put a cap on a painstaking 12-year process that was way too long even for Pleasanton. Mayor Jerry Thorne, in his remarks, alluded to how long it took to process a project that had lots of wins for people. I joined the Pleasanton Gardens board in 2008 and met that spring with City Manager Nelson Fialho to ask what was taking so long and was told it would come back to the council later that year. It was December of 2009 when the council finally heard it and it was sidetracked completely by then-Council woman Cindy McGovern.
That led to a different process that resulted in MidPen contracting with the city to work the development.
As Fialho noted that MidPen project manager Abby Goldware had managed to thread the needle. He later said, as we talked about the seemingly endless process, that Abby had indeed threaded the needle that was moving with thread that was dancing in the wind.
Well said. Abby did a wonderful job with the residents, the two governing boards and the city.
The phase one celebration drew a nice crowd included many who had worked on the task force back when it was formed in 2004. Those folks really had cause for celebration. For instance, both former City Council woman Becky Dennis and former parks and rec chief Dolores Bengston, during the task force time, served on the Pleasanton Gardens board and were termed out after six years. Dolores actually has circled back and rejoined our board.
Among those in attendance was retired long-time Pleasanton Gardens manager Bruce Fiedler who stepped into his new stage in life back in 2012 as well as Howard Neely, who served for years on the housing authority. Fialho pointed out that it was Howard who pushed very hard for the city to buy an adjacent parcel that expanded the space available for the new project.
Supervisor Nate Miley, representing Alameda County and its relatively modest investment, noted that he loved coming to Pleasanton for groundbreakings because nobody was going to beat him up. It was the second groundbreaking that week for Miley.