Pull together and make Streetscape as great as it can be

Another View
By: Michael Otten Placer County Historical Society president
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Let us “Think Auburn First.” Let’s turn a lose-lose situation in Phase 1 of the Streetscape Project for both Auburn and the endurance community into a win-win, from a divisive issue into a unifying one. We are just learning now that part of the plan to realign this High Street-Lincoln Way intersection is to create the “Auburn Endurance Capital Plaza” to honor the winners of the Tevis Cup 100 Mile Endurance Ride and Western States Endurance Run in a mega way. Let’s allow the infrastructure aspects of Streetscape to proceed but pause and really think what we want this city core to really look like. For more than a century, over twice as long as these 100-mile events have been around, this area has been known as Central Square. In the growing Auburn of the late 1880s this was the central point between Old Town and the East Auburn Rail Station. Central Square is more than a name; it is the idea of uniting us. Let’s applaud the Auburn Journal for sparking us into giving some real thought to what we are about with this part of Lincoln Way, so renamed after being part of the first transcontinental highway of 1913. Let’s too applaud the City Council to decide to put this decorative aspect of Central Square on hold to obtain more input, to learn what is going on and to achieve some unanimity. Sometimes the “devil is in the details.” It has been hard to find out what those details might be. The situation reminds me of the line uttered by Strother Martin and Paul Newman in the 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke:” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Councilman Bill Kirby attended the City Capital Endurance Committee last week, getting his first peek at the plaza design. He was dumbfounded and declared it “excessive.” City Manager Robert Richardson said the first phase of the plaza calls for 25 2-by-2-foot markers (100 square feet of black granite pavers from Ruhkala Granite and Marble in Rocklin) honoring the folks and events the committee came up with. Eventually this would be expanded to 85 (340 square feet). And this is just the flat part. Central Square should be a place where many aspects of our community should be recognized, including the endurance events, such as a plaque honoring Wendell Robie and brief descriptions of the 100-mile events. If we are going to go all out as is being proposed here, let’s put it at a mini Endurance Park in the American River Overlook area near the finish lines of these two great races. It is also near the junction of the Western States and Pioneer Express Trails. Let’s do like we did with relocating the Boys and Girls Club (remember early suggestions would have placed it in the flight path zone of Auburn Airport) and the dog park and do something better. Let’s Think Auburn First so we can all win.