As is often the case at the end of the year, the final regularly scheduled Escalon City Council meeting of 2015 was cancelled due to lack of agenda items. The session was originally set for Monday, Dec. 21 but city officials said no urgent matters were agendized, allowing the council to cancel the holiday week session.
The next regular meeting is now slated for Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 and recent action by the council at the Dec. 7 session saw a progress report on the downtown properties owned by the city, including the former Police Department and City Hall facilities.
“The downtown property is now in escrow,” said City Manager Tammy Alcantor, adding that the agenda packet for the Dec. 7 meeting included the purchase agreement along with some drawings of the potential rehab of the buildings.
“The City is not getting the full asking price but we feel we are making up the difference through improvement to the downtown area,” Alcantor said. “We are looking into the future with this project and hope that the revitalization of the current buildings will spark interest in the downtown.”
According to the plans, the proposed project will “bring some mixed use on Main Street with commercial in the front and two residential units in the back,” said Alcantor.
Initial plans also call for converting the old Police building on Coley Avenue into four residential units and a small house on Third Street in between the two office buildings will also be renovated and utilized as a residential unit.
“In all, the project will bring us seven residential units to the downtown with one commercial space. Leer Corp. is the potential buyer and has provided to the Council past work of rehabilitations that have transformed neighborhoods,” Alcantor added.
And while the council is looking forward to some new development in the coming year, they also will take on the tough task of likely raising sewer rates, with a public hearing planned for the meeting of Tuesday, Jan. 19 regarding the increases.
Informational sessions hosted earlier this year laid out the need for the price increases, as the rates have not been raised in several years. Residents and a representatives of a couple of local industries turned out with questions and concerns, specifically regarding the tiered cost and how calculations were made to come up with the new fees.
Though the increases are scheduled to be phased in over time, council members agreed with comments that the hikes are steep but noted they are necessary to provide for a self-sustaining wastewater treatment plant and to finance needed upgrades and maintenance at the facility.