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City Council delays Sutter Street redevelopment project

By: Don Chaddock The Telegraph
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On Tuesday night, the Folsom City Council opted to delay the Sutter Street redevelopment project amid concerns of going over budget in the first phase. The council agreed to move the topics off the agenda and revisit them during the July 28 meeting. “We’re roughly $1.5 million over the estimates,” Councilwoman Kerri Howell said. “Staff has suggested we go back and look at the bids.” She said the city only received two bids on the project, which they’ve dubbed the Streetscape. Vice Mayor Jeff Starsky said it’s probably the city’s own doing for the lack of bids. “The timeframe we gave them to get the bids done just wasn’t (realistic),” Starsky said. “(In this economy) every nickel over budget is just unacceptable.” Any potential design changes, according to Howell, will need to go through a process. “If there are going to be any changes on the design we need to get input from the historic district folks,” she said. In other matters, the council heard from residents in the Historic District regarding the possible removal of traffic diverters. The Telegraph covered the May 26 City Council meeting in which Councilman Ernie Sheldon and Howell promoted the removal of the barriers at Scott, Sutter, Figueroa and Mormon streets. At the time, Starsky said the city should take a cautious approach and phase-in any barrier removals. Councilman Andy Morin said the city needed more time before taking any action. Mayor Steve Miklos wasn’t in attendance at that meeting. That topic, along with some of the comments made by council members on the matter, was revisited Tuesday night as numerous residents took a turn at the microphone during public comment. Alan Gray, of Folsom, said he was concerned about traffic in the district and the removal of the barriers. “I’ve heard some things about opening up traffic in the Historic District,” Gray said. “I’m concerned we are going to train people to come back through the historic district. I’m asking the council to listen to the residents.” Nick Hurst, of Folsom, echoed Gray’s statements. “I don’t want to beat a dead horse,” Hurst said. “I was happy to read in the Telegraph (Starsky is) taking a cautious approach to the barriers and you have articulated that now. I’m glad we are going to put some more energy into this.” Sharon Havernick, a Sutter Street resident, said some of the comments made by council members in the May 26 meeting worried her. “A couple of things concerned me coming into this meeting, (were the comments) that we were seeking gated communities and cul de sacs,” she said. “We’re concerned about the safety and quality of life there and being able to enjoy the neighborhood.” At the earlier meeting, Sheldon said, “(Residents behind barriers) have the attitude of a gated community, but they didn’t pay for that.” At the time he asked that the focus be on Scott Street, rather than the other areas, so work on the Streetscape could proceed. Ben Fuentes, a Scott Street resident, said the city needed to do a better job contacting the neighborhoods impacted by the Streetscape project. “When I found out they were going to (demolish) the street in front of my house all the way up to Figueroa, (I researched it) and found that many residents didn’t know about it,” Fuentes said. “I found they were going to take part of my driveway. … The neighbors have to have input on this.” City Council members agreed to have more meetings in the future on the subject, gaining input from the residents and merchants, before any decision is made to remove the barriers. To view the previous meetings of the Folsom City Council, go to www.folsom.ca.us and go to “on-line services” and then to “city council webcasts.” The discussion regarding the diverters begins about a third of the way through the council’s nearly four-hour May 26 meeting. To hear some of Sheldon’s comments, skip to 1 hour, 58 minutes.