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Several redevelopment projects may go forward

Authority member calls using funds ?an emergency?
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The city of Auburn has a basic plan for how to use its redevelopment funds, and some residents think a new sign is a necessity. The Auburn City Council acting as the Auburn Urban Development Authority heard a report from Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson Monday night. Richardson gave the authority a rundown of its redevelopment monies, and the potential projects they could fund. Gov. Jerry Brown has said he wants the state to absorb local governments? redevelopment funds in the future, but the timeframe of when these funds might be frozen is still unclear. Richardson told authority members the city should ?pull fast? on these types of projects, so it could implement as many funds as possible before they could be taken away. Richardson presented four main projects to the authority: Streetscape Phase 2, improvements on the Old City Hall, the Old Town Fire Station renovation and the Brewery Lane parking lot. ?Tonight is not a night of specificity,? Richardson said. ?It?s a night to get a general direction of where you would like to go with these projects.? Richardson said city staff did think the next Streetscape phase should be started. ?We don?t know if in fact we would have those funds available to us at that (future) time,? he said. ?The legislature could freeze those funds at any time. So, staff is recommending we go forward with Streetscape Phase 2.? Authority Member Kevin Hanley said it is likely the funds could be frozen within six weeks. ?I view this as basically an emergency for the city of Auburn,? Hanley said. Auburn resident Virgil Traynor suggested the authority consider a new LED motion sign to replace the current static sign between the Maple Street and Grass Valley Highway Interstate 80 offramps into Auburn. ?In reviewing this I have heard of several comments: 1. It?s too expensive. 2. CalTrans won?t allow it, and 3. There are public perceptions with putting an LED sign up there,? Traynor said Monday night. Traynor said he thinks the costs of the sign would be manageable, because people would be charged for the postings, just like they are with the current sign. He also said he has spoken to CalTrans, and they don?t seem opposed to it. According to resident Bart Ruud, the city owns the current sign, but the Chamber of Commerce manages it. A document Ruud and Traynor had at the meeting shows a breakdown of the signs? costs, and states that the current sign costs $800 a month and the LED sign would cost $1,980. Ruud said he thinks the new sign would more than pay for itself when people purchased postings. Traynor said he didn?t think the sign should become a place for businesses to advertise, but continue to only publicize community events. ?My feeling is it should not be a commercial sign, but be kept the way it is,? Traynor said. All authority members were interested in city staff looking into the idea. Chairman Bill Kirby said he thought the sign should be used for commercial advertising, and the city should take it over completely. ?If there is money to be made, I don?t think we should leave it in the Chamber?s hands,? Kirby said. The authority members also expressed interest in focusing redevelopment funds on Streetscape Phase 2, the Old City Hall improvements and the Old Town Fire Station renovation. Authority members also requested Richardson check into adding street improvements to the redevelopment plan. Redevelopment bonds currently can?t fund street repairs, because they fall under maintenance, but it is possible to change the plan to include those repairs, Richardson said. No action was taken on any specific projects. In other business: ยท City Council authorized Public Works Director Bernie Schroeder to execute a contract with Maxpower Electronics, Inc. for the Elder?s Station Security Camera Project in an amount not to exceed $14,700. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com