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[whitespace] Elmwood body shop to make Town fire truck safe for kids

Los Gatos--With a little help from our mechanically skilled convict population, Los Gatos children will once again be able to play on Oak Meadow Park's classic fire truck.

The Town Council voted unanimously Jan. 18 to send the old truck to a body shop for sandblasting and then transport it to Elmwood Correction Center's body shop for repairs and repainting. Parks and Forestry superintendent John Iaquinto said the truck will be back in the park in approximately four months.

The council's Jan. 18 decision marks the end of a four-month process, which began with former director of Parks and Public Works Scott Baker's recommendation that the town remove the truck from the park for safety reasons. The council, led by then-Vice Mayor Steve Blanton, expressed its desire to keep the truck in the park due to its historical importance to generations of Los Gatos residents.

However, when town staff came back with an estimate of $29,000 to renovate the equipment and bring it up to current playground safety standards, the council balked. Councilman Joe Pirzynski suggested the town explore the possibility of using prison labor and look at an estimate for a less than "auto show quality" renovation.

The plan will cost the town an estimated $6,500 to have the truck transported to a body shop, sandblasted and then transported to the Elmwood Correction Center. Inmates will provide the free labor, and Elmwood will charge only for materials, such as paint, putty and welding materials.

"I'm happy," Blanton said. "It's nice to see some continuity in the community, and the fire truck has been there for decades."

Council members at the Jan. 18 meeting expressed concerns over whether the truck would return looking like a big red box because of the many safety issues that must be mitigated. Staff reassured the council that the truck would still be aesthetically authentic.

"That's what we discussed, and that's what I picture," Iaquinto later said. "But there are a lot of holes on it that need to be filled and dangerous items that need to be covered." He added that the truck also will finally be painted the right color: fire-engine red.

The town has used the Elmwood Correction Center to paint and have bodywork done on work vehicles in the past and has always been satisfied with the results, Iaquinto said.
Nathan R. Huff

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Web extra to the January 27-February 2, 2000 issue of Metro.

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