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Shovels are at the ready for Sutter Street’s facelift

Redevelopment project officially moving forward
By: Brad Smith, Telegraph Correspondent
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In just a few months, shovels are slated to hit dirt in the Folsom Historic District. During its Oct. 27 meeting, the city council voted unanimously, approving the ambitious “Streetscape” redevelopment project. Amy Feagans, director of Folsom’s redevelopment agency, said that bid packets are now being made available to contractors. Once a bid has been accepted, she said, actual work is scheduled to begin on or around February 2010. “By this time next year, everything should be done,” she said. Work will begin along Sutter Street’s 900 block, as aging water and sewage lines will be replaced with new infrastructure. The old infrastructure has to be replaced, according to Feagans. “Those lines are decades old. If we don’t take care of them now, we’ll be facing some serious problems,” she said. Among the “Streetscape” plans, Sutter’s median, which was built in the latter half of the 20th century, will be removed. Sidewalks will be brought up to current Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, with ramps and handrails installed. Feagans said that the new handrails would be made to conform with Sutter’s historic atmosphere. Plans for Sutter Street’s redevelopment started back in September 2005. Feagans said that the entire process, from inception to getting approval, has been a “very interesting one.” She said she thinks residents will be receptive. “When it’s completed, I think that many people will be pleased with it,” she said. The project has had its share of controversy. Local historical groups and private citizens have voiced concerns over the redevelopment project, worried that it would drastically alter Old Town’s look and ambiance. In order to address those concerns and answer questions, a series of public meetings were held. Those meetings, Feagans said, also gave the city a chance to display their proposed plans and hear the public’s input. “The meetings were very beneficial. The city does understand everybody’s concerns,” she said, “and we wanted the public to know that.” The meetings gave the city a chance to “clear up some misconceptions,” Feagans said. During one meeting, a resident asked why the city was going to place metal tables, chairs and umbrellas all along Sutter Street. As it turned out, Feagans explained, that person had misinterpreted the symbols on the proposed redevelopment plans. “It was a simple mistake. Luckily, we were able to point that out and clear up that misconception,” she said. Once the project is finished, Feagans said that Folsom and its residents will have a Sutter Street that will be “amazing and beautiful.” Until then, she knows that people will still have questions and concerns. “That’s fine with me. People should feel free to call or email me. I’m always willing to listen,” she said.