Corporation yard discussion beginsBy: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
The River Park Lake Natoma Group held their first community meeting regarding the city’s corporation yard last Thursday evening, August 24, and the turn out was great, according to Jennifer Lane, original group member and former teacher.
The meeting was held to dip residents’ toes in the information and plans so far complied by the group.
The group’s goal is to make sure whatever is built in the current corporation yard, located in the historic district, remains non-commercial and non-residential.
“The meeting was amazing,” Lane said. “We had 100 chairs at the Community Center set up and we had 55 people. We had 55 people who paid attention that listened and followed what was going on.”
The meeting’s speakers consisted of the five group members – Lane, Councilman Ernie Sheldon, Joyce Roderick, Fatima Soltani and Hooshang Shoja. Each of them spoke on their experience and vision for the corporation yard. Lane said their vision is to have something much like the Effie Yeaw Nature Center where students and residents of all ages can learn history as well as experience nature.
Lane said the small group formed roughly four months ago, and they have met regularly, discussing plans to preserve the nature and cultural amenities of the land.
Lane said about a year-and-a-half ago, the city held a charrette for the corporation yard with approximately 80 people, and they were asked to collaborate in groups and present their ideas.
“Most of the presentations were people who wanted open space and to highlight on the cultural amenities because there is so much cultural history down there – from Chinese to black history, to minors; you name it, it’s down there,” Lane said. “Overall, that was the feeling of everyone there. Most people wanted open space and cultural amenities. There were two groups who mentioned housing and one who mentioned a hotel.”
Lane said after the city compiled the ideas on their website, the only ideas posted were about hotels and housing.
“Well, the choices were houses and hotel. No open space, no park, no cultural amenities,” she said. “None of that was mentioned. The people who were at the charrette said, ‘Wait a minute, these were not the choices that were favored.’”
The choices and more information on the history can be found at folsom.ca.us, under ‘Folsom Corporation Yard – Visioning Process.’
Following the meeting last Thursday, Lane said their next step is to hire an architect to design a rough draft of the land. She said they have selected Folsom native Micah Sarut and hopes to have him present to City Council in the coming months.
Lane said she and Roderick spoke to Mayor Andy Morin about their plan recently.
“We told him about our plan. He wasn’t very encouraging to tell you the truth,” she said. “Council is a three-minute presentation. Is it enough? No, it isn’t enough.”
Morin responded by saying he wasn’t too fond of the subject, as it was getting way too ahead.
“My initial reaction is that we’ll just know more about what preferences there are when the time gets here,” he said. “We’re still in the process of acquiring the new corporation yard site. We’re about five years out before we would have the opportunity to vacate the current corporation yard. Generally, that process and planning would be up to the council at that time. Maybe Jennifer will be on the City Council. It would be really premature to nail down a plan for that site.”
Morin said he hopes to see a blend of what people are interested in for the corporation yard. He said the most important thing is to improve access to Lake Natoma, as it’s a beautiful asset.
Lane said she plans to run in the next City Council election and hopes to get closer to the finish line than she did when she ran in 2014.
For more information on the River Park Lake Natoma Group and the Corporation Yard, go to their Facebook group called ‘folsombeginning,’ or go to folsom.ca.us.
Know and Go:
What: Folsom River Park Lake Natoma Group Fundraiser
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept 9-10
Where: 604 Sibley & Natoma Street
Call Mike for drop off dates, locations and help: 916-224-8022
Call Joyce to volunteer: 916-608-4097