By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

The Putuidem Cultural Village moved one step closer to getting built on Tuesday after the San Juan Capistrano City Council approved awarding a construction contract for the project during a regular meeting.

The contract will be awarded to C.S. Legacy Construction, which handled the recent Verdugo Street Beautification Project and will also expand a parking lot near the Los Rios and downtown area. The village will pay tribute to the Native American Acjachemen tribe on a portion of the Northwest Open Space. Construction is expected to be done by late fall.

“The Putuidem Cultural Village Park is a very unique concept,” Public Works Director Tom Toman said during the Aug. 18 meeting. “The majority of the project involves a cultural area that will include a presentation area with seating, a discovery trail that meanders through the site, beautiful shade trees and various depictions of Acjachemen culture that pay homage to the history of the land.”

Other features will include directional markers, interpretive educational signs, an amphitheater area that will have a stage with a decomposed granite surface and will be decorated by native plants used by the Acjachemen people.

The contract with C.S. Legacy Construction is for approximately $1.179 million. Anticipated budget savings from the Putuidem project will be transferred to another city project that will beautify the Ortega Highway/Del Obispo Street intersection, considered a key entry point into downtown. The intersection beautification project is expected to be ready for construction bids later this fall.

Bids for construction on the Putuidem project were received in March. The city subsequently delayed awarding a contract while determining the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in July authorized moving forward on the village.

In other meeting news, the council approved canceling the District 1 election, because incumbent Sergio Farias is running unopposed. Mayor Troy Bourne and Mayor Pro Tem John Taylor voted yes, while Farias abstained since he felt voting on the item would be self-serving. Councilmembers Brian Maryott and Derek Reeve were not at the meeting.

“I do appreciate the residents of District 1 for their support and essentially allowing me to have another four years,” Farias said. “I’m thankful to my family for allowing me to have been a candidate again. It’s not an easy decision.”

Bourne said Farias has done a fantastic job, is a pleasure to work with and always does the best for the community. Taylor said it was a wise move by the community to send Farias back to the council unopposed.

Farias will be officially sworn in this December, when his next four-year term will commence. The election cancellation will save the city an estimated $5,500. The District 5 election is still on, with candidates John Alpay and Howard Hart campaigning. The seat is currently held by Maryott, who is running in the 49th Congressional District race against incumbent Mike Levin.

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