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Roseville to revitalize downtown with $37 million in projects

Officials say 13 projects over three years will prime city center for renaissance
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville’s downtown will be primed for a renaissance once the economy improves if the city prioritizes redevelopment now, officials say.

The Roseville City Council took a major step toward activating the renewal of downtown by approving 13 projects and programs in the district over the next three years. The unanimous decision earned applause during Wednesday’s council meeting. Councilwoman Susan Rohan was absent.

“This has been something the City of Roseville has been waiting for a long time,” said Councilman John Allard. “There have been starts and stops, starts and stops … I think we’re finally at the point to make it happen.”

Several local developers commended the city for its foresight, saying this is the right time for infill development and infrastructure improvements as construction costs are low.

Jeff Baize, CEO of BrookHurst Development Corp, called downtown “a beautiful jewel.” Former Councilman Jim Gray also spoke in support. Gray helped develop the city’s Downtown Specific Plan.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am about seeing the possibilities … to draw people to us,” Gray said. “We can’t forget this downtown is the heart of Roseville.”

Scott Alvord, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, asked the city to prioritize the development of the Town Square, which will be “a visible draw for our community.” He said revitalizing downtown is critical as much of the city’s history, culture and unique businesses are located on Vernon Street.

The Downtown Specific Plan projects will cost an estimated $37 million over three years. The majority of these funds are exclusively allocated for physical improvements or have restrictions that do not allow them to be used for operational expenditures.

“It’s like when you get a gift card for Lowe’s. You can’t then use it at Home Depot or to pay your mortgage,” city spokeswoman Megan MacPherson told the Press Tribune. “It’s restricted in its use, just like the funds we’re planning to use for these projects.”

In 2006, the city completed an intensive visioning process that defined a successful revitalization of downtown as critical. A product of these efforts was the completion of the Downtown Specific Plan, which provides the regulatory framework, process amendments and a list of capital improvement projects.

Those include: development of the Town Square, Vernon Street streetscape and roadway improvements, Vernon Street sewer, water and electric upgrades, and additional parking for Old Town. The city will also relocate Fire Station 1 to free up the Dry Creek site for future “riverfront” development.

Atlantic Street will undergo streetscape changes. The projects also include construction of a new library bridge, relocation of the Icehouse Bridge to accommodate bicycle connections and design of the pedestrian bridge into Royer Park.

Assistant Planning and Redevelopment Director Kevin Payne said the projects are expected to create about 400 short- and long-term jobs.

Homeless numbers up

In other news, Placer County has 631 homeless, with 283 — or 45 percent — residing in Roseville, said Roseville Police Officer David Flood during the meeting.

Flood is the department’s transient enforcement officer. He attributes the city’s large percentage to the suffering economy, loss of jobs and the availability of services in Roseville.

Suzi deFosset, executive director of the Gathering Inn, advised people not to give money to transients as homeless advocates have found that panhandlers often use the cash they get for tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs, not for food.

DeFosset says it’s better to donate to local organizations providing homeless services, such as the Gathering Inn, St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and What Would Jesus Do?

“What we feel right now is (homelessness) is getting to be a large issue,” deFosset said. “And we’re doing what we can to contain it.”

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Here’s a look at some other items approved during the Aug. 17 council meeting:

Harry Crabb Park call for bids: The 18.8 acre park site is located on Scarborough Drive and Secret Ravine Parkway in the Stoneridge Pacific Plan. Phase 1 of the project includes installation of children’s play areas, covered picnic area, sand volleyball, perimeter pathway, gravel parking lot, turf, landscaping and irrigation. Construction cost is estimated at $983,263. Additional aspects may cost $235,066 and will be included as budget allows.

Purchase of Police uniforms: The Police Department has an ongoing need for uniforms. The total cost is estimated to be $45,000 and is included in this year’s budget.

Third party administration of the city’s worker’s compensation program agreement: The city selected York to administer the program with a new contract beginning Sept. 1 for a fee of $113,082 annually. Staff expects that if claim numbers and types remain consistent, the city will achieve $44,000 in savings each year.

Residential demand response program agreement: In 2007, Roseville Electric implemented “Power Partners” to allow residents to help reduce peak energy use during summer. Residents agree to have wireless controls attached to their homes, which cycle air conditioners on and off for short intervals during critical periods.

The city selected GoodCents as the vendor for 5,000 switches. They have installed more than 3,800 and will store the remaining 1,200. This agreement is not to exceed $120,000. These costs may be offset by savings associated with peak demand reduction.

Contract award and budget adjustment for Blue Oaks/Washington Intersection improvements: This project will upgrade the intersection and increase its capacity and provide for Intelligent Transportation Systems communications. The total project cost is $206,834 and is funded from Gas Tax and Traffic Mitigation Funds.

Transit vehicle purchase budget adjustment: The city will replace three older dial-a-ride vehicles purchased in 2003. The city says the new buses best address the needs of an aging population and liability concerns related to the use of wheelchair lifts. The total anticipated cost for the new buses is $490,170, which will be funded by grants.

Lease agreement for School House Park: The public park is primarily used by Sun City residents, as is located completely within the Del Webb Specific Plan. The Sun City Roseville Community Association will assume maintenance and operation of the park, while having the chance to host small events and enhance or change the landscape at the site. In exchange, the city will end the association’s responsibility to pay for bus service to Sun City and the maintenance of a small piece of median on Pleasant Grove Boulevard.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.