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Veterans clash with city over downtown bridge projects

Worried projects will impact parking for Veterans Memorial Hall
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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The city of Roseville will host a public workshop to review concept drawings for the downtown bridge projects during the last week of November. Details are to be determined. For updated information, visit www.roseville.ca.us.

Roseville veterans are all riled up about proposed changes in downtown that may impact parking at Veterans Memorial Hall.

These veterans say they already lack sufficient parking and are worried they’ll lose even more as the city continues with redevelopment improvements throughout the area. The group of about 20 people voiced their concerns — sometimes harshly — at a public meeting held at the hall on Oct. 30.

Currently, 42 parking spaces exist outside the building and across the Rube Nelson “Icehouse” Bridge, which runs over Dry Creek, in the Oak Street lot. The city intends to retain all the parking spots, but modifications to the bridge may result in a small loss of spaces in the Oak Street lot. The details remain unknown at this point.

During the meeting, Roseville American Legion Commander Mike Scott stepped in to calm down the upset audience and clarify the veterans’ position.

“We don’t want to lose any parking spots and our goal is to increase the parking on this side of the creek,” Scott said.

The veterans have been asking the city for more parking at Royer Park for nine years. They want their current lot doubled in size. They don’t like parking in the Oak Street lot because many veterans are disabled and the lighting is too dark and unsafe at night.

The hall is used by veterans groups and Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Blue Star Moms of Sacramento, square dancers and various nonprofits organizations and government agencies.

During the meeting, city staff presented on three bridge projects in the Downtown Specific Plan, which was approved in 2009 and aims for greater connectivity among pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

One way the city plans to achieve connectivity is to replace the bridge that connected the Downtown Library to Royer Park, which was removed last year due to erosion.

Secondly, the Oak Street Class I bridge trail extension will connect two existing bike trails in the area that reside on different sides of Dry Creek.

The third bridge project involves the Icehouse Bridge, which may need to be moved to become the library’s new bridge — because it isn’t suited for bikes, Dour said — or realigned to provide better direct access to Veterans Memorial Hall.

The city will host two public workshops to review bridge concept drawings submitted by two firms and solicit feedback before hiring the consultant. Those drawings will reflect public input obtained during a workshop held in October. The city hopes to submit the contract for City Council approval by March.

“It’s a very unique process. We haven’t really done something like this before in Roseville,” said Roseville’s Alternative Transportation Analyst Mike Dour.

Technical studies will occur through August with construction in 2014 and 2015. Dour called this an “ambitious schedule.”

The city had originally considered turning the parking lot on Oak Street into mixed-use development. But that was before learning they’d need to relocate a 63-inch sewer line for around $1 million. Revitalization Manager Kevin Payne said redevelopment funds no longer exist to pay for this work, so the sewer line will remain, which makes development in the area difficult.

“In the near term — in probably the next 10 years — the likelihood of that being developed is very slim,” Payne said.

The Children’s Art Center, playgrounds, basketball courts and tennis courts in Royer Park will remain untouched. That’s part of the problem, according to veteran Dave Ramsey who said Royer Park boasts too many attractions, and as a result, attracts too many visitors.

“Reduce the attractions here, expand the parking,” Ramsey told the group.

Some veterans suggested the playground be moved across the street to Saugstad Park but Tara Gee, a senior landscape architect with the city, said that option is cost-prohibitive because the park is a former landfill.