Monday Aug 03 2009
Projects bring jobs, town improvements
By: Mike Holmes
Phase I of Auburn’s Streetscape project is well under way as visitors to the Central Square area are quick to acknowledge. Some of the businesses in that area have been impacted due to the change in traffic patterns and temporary safety fencing. City staff has provided better signage to assure potential that those businesses are open. We will continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis until that part of the project is completed by the end of the year. In the meantime, please continue to “Think Auburn First” when making your purchases. A number of residents expressed concern regarding the development of the Baltimore Ravine area in Auburn when it was first proposed in 2007. The scope of the project has been significantly modified and planning discussions between the applicant and the city continue in the development of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The number of dwelling units has been reduced from about 1,300 to 725. Open space has been increased from 60 acres to 143 acres. Mixed-use space (commercial) has been reduced from 120,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet. There is no set date for this project to go before the Auburn Planning Commission. Congratulations to the Auburn Holiday Inn which has been awarded the participation level in the California Green Lodging program, an initiative of the California Department of General Services, to promote pollution prevention practices in the tourism and hospitality industry. Elements include energy-saving light bulbs, motion detector lights in storage areas, towel reuse program for stayovers and trash recycling. The City Council recently approved the issuance of revenue bonds for the upgrade of our wastewater treatment plant. The city received a bond rating of AA- by the bond-rating agency, which is better than the State of California’s rating. We received eight bids for the project, which was estimated at about $8 million. The lowest bid received was for about $4.1 million. After bids have been evaluated by city staff, the City Council will make a final selection and move forward with this project in the next few months. We expect that the contractor will create or save some jobs for local workers just as has been done with Streetscape. The City Council has approved advertising for this year’s street overlay program. The highest priority is for Indian Hill Road between Auburn-Folsom Road and the city limits. Cost of the overlay is estimated at about $440,000 with funds coming from the federal and state governments. Indian Hill Road is designated as a feeder road for Interstate 80 and qualifies for federal funds. Speaking of federal funds, several days ago we received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Justice that the City of Auburn will receive $262,000 over the next three years in support of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for one police officer. This was welcome news and will allow us to rehire one of the officers laid off last month. Well done to Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn who wrote the grant request. Under the terms of their franchise with the City of Auburn WAVE Broadband is required to have an office here. WAVE has been out of compliance with that provision for over a year since closing the office on Agnes Street. I have received assurances that WAVE will reopen in the next 30 days. The new office, located in the former Placer Land Building on Lincoln Way, will offer a full range of services including a menu of different internet downloading speeds. The city parking study received a large number of comments. One recommendation related to the management of existing parking spaces. As a first step in implementing the recommendations I have asked city staff to convert unsold reserve parking spaces to open parking and to move the jury parking lot project along for completion by year’s end. That project will provide additional lighted spaces. I want to commend the local couple who make it a part of their daily walk along Auburn-Folsom Road to pick up trash. It is folks like these who make Auburn a better place to live. Mike Holmes is the mayor of Auburn.