Endurance Committee faces questions on plaza project

By: Jon Brines Journal Correspondent
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Concerned with the city’s plans for Central Square and issues surrounding the Endurance Capital Committee, one Auburn citizen decided to take his concerns directly to the group at their latest public meeting. “I just wanted to state my opinion and listen to what you had going,” said 35-year Auburn resident Jim Campos. According to city officials, concrete has started to pour on the $2.2 million dollar redevelopment project that will redesign the five-way intersection at Lincoln Way and High Street, replace 150-year-old water and sewer lines before transforming Central Square by adding an Endurance Plaza, an endurance sports walk of fame. Before Tuesday’s meeting could get under way Campos asked committee members why the square was so focused on endurance sports. “Don’t you think you are kind of stealing center stage by doing what you’re doing in Central Square?” Campos said. Committee member Shannon Weil explained how two events, the Western States 100 Mile Ride and Run were uniquely Auburn and influenced endurance sporting events worldwide. “You should do the founding fathers or the events that happened here,” Campos said. “Anything with the past history of Auburn.” Plans for Endurance Plaza have overshadowed the larger, more complex designs the city has for a two-mile history walk where other events and individuals will have their stories told. It is all a part of the estimated $20 million multi-phase Streetscape project that will stretch from the Historic Courthouse to Elm Street and link Downtown and Old Town. The span will also include elements of a “history walk” to memorialize parts of Auburn’s past. City Manager Bob Richardson said within 90 days a public committee will be formed to concentrate on the history walk design. “This project, this phase, we’re not done,” Richardson told Campos. “We have a long way to go. (The history walk) is going to be a big committee and a lot of work.” Campos said forming the endurance committee before the history walk was a mistake. “They should have planned everything else,” Campos said. “Put this on the back burner.” Richardson said that decision was simply tied to the logistics of the whole project. “There has been so little physical improvement in this community over the years,” Richardson said. “People see a project and think everything has to be wrapped into one thing. It is not.” Campos said picking Central Square to showcase endurance was also a mistake. “We were honored by that space but we didn’t pick it,” Weill said. That decision was made by the original design committee several years ago, she said. For Campos and many others, another concern is what names would be included in the walk of fame, carved in granite and immortalized in the town square. “I appreciate all that you’ve done but it seems a little self-serving,” Campos told Gordy Ainsleigh, a committee member who founded the Western States 100 mile Run in 1974. Ainsleigh said the walk of fame may clear up confusion on who started the endurance events and highlight their contributions. “I want to know who else was out there on that 107-degree day in August of 1974,” Ainsleigh said. “I’m referred to as one of people who started the Western States Endurance Run, and I go, ‘who else?’ I want to know who those other people are? Someone is trying to take credit for what I did.” When asked to publicly release the list of names for the Walk of Fame to be unveiled in December, committee members refused. “It is not for public knowledge right now,” Weil said. “It is not anything that we’re hiding, it’s just that we are in a process with the City of Auburn. It wouldn’t be correct for us to release this information until City Council approves it. It is not our right to do that.” The Journal has learned among the names to be placed in Endurance Plaza on 2-foot by 2-foot granite tiles is one dedicated to the Endurance Capital Committee and all of its sitting members who include Gordy Ainsleigh, Shannon Weil, Harvey Roper, R.F. Potato Richardson, Cynci Calvin and Lisa Kodl. “Everyone is motivated by personal, financial or business interests,” Campos said. “I didn’t see any regular citizens on this committee.” According to city officials, all of the committee members are volunteers who have spent countless hours advising City Council on a project, but it is the city that is ultimately responsible. “We have no problem appointing other citizens to these committees at all,” said City Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby. “When you pick a theme like the endurance, the people who want to be on the committee are going to be endurance people. We don’t get volunteers to these committees and the people that volunteer may have a vested interest in the subject. The council is acutely aware of that.” After the meeting Campos said he intends to be more involved. “I need to make sure I’m down here more often now,” Campos said. The Endurance Capital Committee has scheduled another meeting to finalize recommendation for council for Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the City Manager’s office. The public is welcome to attend. ---------- Unofficial Endurance Plaza honorees The following names were discussed for inclusion on engraved pavers in the new Endurance Plaza during the Endurance Capital Committee meeting Tuesday. They include: Wendell Robie Lincoln “Nick” Mansfield Bill Patrick Pat Sewell Richard Highfill Drucilla Barner Gordy Ainsleigh (twice) Jack Veal Charles Barieau Robert Montgomery Watson Betty Veal, RN Dr. Richard Barsaleau Jim Larimer Mo Livermore Shannon Weil (twice) Phil Gardner Curt Sproul Dr. Bob Lind Brad Kearns Pat & Sandy White Phil Gardner Marion Arnold Sally Edwards Dan Olmstead Greg Wells Harvey Roper Cynci Calvin Lisa Kodl Potato Richardson Jim Northey ---------- Endurance Capital Committee meeting What: Another meeting to finalize recommendations for the Endurance Plaza pavers for council When: 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18 Where: City Manager’s office at city hall, 1225 Lincoln Way in Auburn The public is welcome to attend.