Architect inks contract to oversee civic projects

July 17, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Local architect Kent Hems recently signed a contract with this city's Redevelopment Agency authorizing his HMC Architects Group to oversee at least five civic improvement projects here and possibly two in the future.

On Monday, Hems outlined which projects will be worked on first, how much they will cost and when they might be completed.

1. Re-roofing of Camarena Memorial Library.

Hems said the $75,000 re-roofing project can be completed in 30 days once the City Council signs off on a bidder and library staff tell him when to start.

City Librarian Sandra Tauler said, "We're hoping the re-roofing can be done as soon as possible; maybe in the next couple of months. They got the bids in and they are going to award the contract."


The contract will be brought before the City Council tonight.

While there is no immediate danger with the roof's condition, it does need to be fixed soon. Hems said, "There is some cracking in different areas and spots on the ceiling."

2. Nosotros skate park

After discussion with engineers and community members, Hems decided the $190,000 park should be situated near the basketball courts of the under-construction Nosotros Park.

It had been slotted for an empty lot to the east of the park but that put the park facing homes.

Hems said the new placement will put the park away from the front yards of residents and allow the skate park to blend with the other elements of the park.

"Parents will be able to stand in the middle and watch their smaller kids play on the playground while the older kids skate," he said.

"The project has to go out to bid yet. We're planning on putting it to bid in the next two weeks," Hems said.

Once the construction contract is awarded the skate park could be completed in a few weeks. Hems is hoping to have it ready by September.

3. Renovation of the Jose B. Rodriquez Community Center on Dool Avenue.

With a price tag of $600,000, the renovation of the 1968-built community center is one of the pricier items on Hems' list but one of the most pressing since the center's bathrooms don't meet California disability access standards.

In addition to retrofitting the restrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hems will oversee the replacement of the center's rooftop air-conditioning drainage system.

When the roof and restroom repairs are finished, Hems hopes the center will be more presentable for quinceañeras and weddings.

4. Entry monuments.

This project proposed during City Councilman Javier Alatorre's term as mayor would add four monuments to the east and west city-limit boundaries on Highway 98 and the north and south points on Highway 111. The monuments will cost $150,000.

The monuments have been singled out by some of Alatorre's colleagues as a use of RDA funds that doesn't create revenue for the city.

Despite those concerns, the monuments have already been approved at the council level.

Addressing his colleagues' concerns, Alatorre has said the monuments will provide an economic stimulus to the community by advertising the city to those who pass through.

The California Department of Transportation will have to approve the projects because they would be along state highways.

Hems said because of Caltrans' involvement in the project, "there is no estimated timetable" on when the monuments might be installed.

5. Revitalization of Rockwood Plaza.

The City Council sold the plaza to the RDA and has approved revitalization not to exceed $1.2 million in RDA funds.

Hems has not been given direction from the board as to exactly what sort of revitalization the council, seated as the RDA board, has planned for the plaza.

Closing off Seventh Street between Rockwood Park and San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus and adding a fountain or some sort of artistic centerpiece to the plaza are among proposals discussed.

"Right now that's still in the planning stages," Hems said.

Councilman Frank Montoya, who didn't vote for the sale that put the park under RDA jurisdiction, hopes whatever is done "could make the plaza into something that could generate some revenue."

Two future projects on Hems' slate have been tabbed for 2002. They are a seismic retrofitting of Carnegie Library and the renovation of old City Hall for use by the Mexican consulate.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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