Local groups restoring the Modesto arch will continue to rely on donated money and labor to finish the work, after getting no public funding from the City Council this week.
Tuesday, council members didn't go along with a proposal to use $40,000 in general fund money to pay the bills until checks are sent by donors.
The Modesto Chamber of Commerce and others have raised more than $67,000, plus $40,000 in pledges, for the arch project. An additional $20,000 is needed to establish a fund for light-bulb replacements and upkeep on the 100-year-old landmark.
The committee is waiting for checks from large donors that made $5,000 to $10,000 pledges. "I don't know anyone who pledged that is not going to pay," Chamber President Cecil Russell said Wednesday.
Another source of funding is $15,800 that remains from the Ted and Dr. Roberta Mann Foundation grant for downtown beautification, city staff said.
Workers need to finish repainting the iconic arch, which for a century has carried the motto "Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health." In addition, the wiring is being completed and the light panels tested before the panels and letters are put back on the arch. The panels could be installed one or two weeks from Saturday.
Other improvements will include flagpoles on each side of the I Street landmark. Work on the restoration began in August.
"Not many people realize the steps needed to make all this happen," said Brian Gini, co-owner of Collins Electrical, one of the businesses taking part in the effort. "We got involved because it was a great community project. It comes down to preserving one of the last downtown icons."
The restored arch will be dedicated at a centennial celebration Oct. 26, with activities including a classic-car parade and lighting ceremony. Russell said items are being collected for a time capsule that will be buried during the free event.
The capsule could contain a copy of the movie "American Graffiti," photographs, pieces of the arch, a proclamation and a DVD of people working on the restoration.
Resistance from officials
At Tuesday's meeting, some council members didn't want to commit public money for completing the project, because it originally was proposed as a volunteer effort. Councilman Dave Cogdill Jr. said the project didn't have a high priority for funding when compared with other needs.
A number of contractors are donating labor or working for discounted rates. Russell said he is gathering information on how much the contractors intend to bill for work and materials. "Now that we are this close, they should have a better idea of what they have spent," he said.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.