Fountain plan flushed as city cuts costs

Axed projects total up to $875,000
By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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With redevelopment funds on the state’s chopping block, city officials are eyeing cost-cutting measures to save projects. City officials discussed possible cost saving options with the redevelopment of the Historic Folsom Station project. As a result of the expected impacts of state legislation on Redevelopment Agencies resulting in limited capital funding, city staff sought direction regarding revisions to the project. According to the staff report, the anticipated costs of proposed capital improvement projects within the Redevelopment Agency far exceed current bonding capacity of the agency. According to the staff report, the two primary areas of opportunities to reduce costs include the removal of the water feature (fountain) and redesign of the railroad tracks between the turn table and the Ashland Depot building area. The approximate cost of the fountain is $625,000 to $675,000 and the approximate cost of the Railroad Track Redesign is $175,000 to $200,000. “The council agreed with staff’s recommendations to eliminate the interactive water fountain and to redesign the foundation system for the railroad tracks between the turn table and the Ashland Depot area,” said Sue Ryan, Folsom’s public information officer. Some Folsom Historic District merchants were not happy to hear about the changes. Karen Holmes, the owner of Karen’s Bakery Café and Catering in the Historic District, wanted to see the fountain stay. “The fountain brings an ambiance to the plaza, it brings life,” Holmes said at the meeting. Jim Snook, owner of Snooks Candies on Sutter Street, wants the fountain to go in because of what it will bring to the district. Cutting costs was the main concern for council members. “I love the water feature, but it comes down to dollars,” Starsky said. Increased costs to the project were also discussed at the meeting which included redesigning the corner of Wool/Sutter Street to re-establish a temporary parking lot until the Sutter Row building is constructed and replacing the outdated public restrooms adjacent to the chamber building. Also, they discussed public restrooms as the Chamber of Commerce has closed the outdated public restrooms adjacent to their building. “Council also directed staff to re-establish a temporary parking lot at the corner of Wool and Sutter streets and to provide temporary public restrooms at that location for use until the block is fully developed,” Ryan said. According to the staff report, the restrooms would be designed so that they could be relocated as needed in the future. The approximate cost of the new proposals combined is $150,000 to $225,000. “This is very different than it was six months ago,” said Mayor Andy Morin. “We have to conserve as much as we can.” Morin thinks the project will still benefit Folsom and Sutter Street merchants with these cost reducing changes. “I have much more confidence in this project than a vitality,” Morin said. “I’m confident that this will be positive and go well.” In other news, a neighborhood dispute left many Folsom residents smiling. In new business, an appeal by Hugh and Sabrina Reed of Folsom was approved essentially overturning the Planning Commission’s decision to approve a request by Kevin and Pat Folsom for an exterior spiral staircase addition to their home in Briggs Ranch. David Miller, the city’s community development director, said problems with these staircases in the past have included increased noise and loss of privacy. “We thought the privacy issue was a big deal,” Miller said at the meeting. Sabrina said the staircase would be about 18 feet from her house and did not think this would be appropriate for Briggs Ranch. “This spiral staircase will become a headache to the residents,” Hugh said. Councilman Jeff Starsky was concerned about the look of the staircase from the street. He suggested moving the staircase to the back of the house and most neighbors at the meeting were in agreement. “I don’t believe the staircase on the side of the home is harmonious with the rest of the homes,” Starsky said. “If you would put this in the back of the house, it’s not unusual in the backyard.” The Folsom’s attorney spoke on behalf of the couple. “This won’t be a headache for anyone,” said Tim O’Connor, legal counsel for the Folsoms. “It’s just a metal structure.” Many neighbors said noise and other issues have caused differences between the Folsoms and themselves previously in the neighborhood.