A little known and rarely used process for vacating a street in Escalon has come under scrutiny … and is likely to be a topic of discussion at the Monday night Escalon City Council meeting on April 3.
Prospect Street lies between Escalon Lumber and the Escalon Transmission Shop, off First Street, and though technically still a street, it is more often used as overflow parking for events at the neighboring Azores Band Hall and when there are major events downtown such as Park Fete or parades.
Members of the Escalon City Council took formal action at their Feb. 21 meeting to vacate the street, said City Manager Tammy Alacantor.
“It means that it’s not designated to be a street at this point,” she said.
Some business owners in the shops surrounding the newly vacated street are now concerned what will happen to the property.
Among them is Jim Mangnuson of Mangnuson Air Conditioning, who is hoping to get people out to the Monday night meeting to ask the council to reconsider the action.
A full page ad regarding some of his concerns, and those of other business owners in the immediate area, can be found on Page A6 of this week’s issue.
“I am certainly hoping we’ve got support,” Mangnuson said. “The lumber company (Escalon Lumber and Hardware) has a petition going, getting some signatures, I know we have support from the Portuguese (Azores) Hall, they are getting signatures.”
At issue is the future of the ‘street’ – which can be used as a pass through from First Street to Roosevelt Avenue – and what might be done with it. Several businesses utilize the space for parking.
“Even at that, I am not saying I want it to be turned into a parking lot,” Mangnuson said of seeking the council to take back the street for the city.
One of his major concerns is how the initial action was taken. He feels it was sparked by fellow business owner Randy Schmidt’s request that the city put some gravel down on the street itself.
“They don’t have the money to repair it,” Mangnuson said. “They haven’t had the money to do it for 45 years.”
It was never an issue before, he pointed out, but the decision was made to “just get rid of the road” when the city was approached for some assistance in maintaining it.
Alcantor said though vacated as a street, the area in question is now just classified as city owned property.
And while the council isn’t necessarily looking to sell the property, Alcantor said at this point, there has been no decision made on what will be done with it in the future.
“It’s technically two lots,” she noted, adding that, for the time being, the use of the property will continue on with the status quo, offering a parking area and the pass through between streets.
Mangnuson said he plans to attend the council meeting and will address the issue during the Public Comments portion of the agenda.
He is concerned that the council did not follow the letter of the law in abandoning the street and wants to make sure proper procedures were in place.
“I think they take the law and re-work it until it meets their needs,” he said. “The best way to stop it is to ask for a reconsideration, then they (council) need to get with people and look for ideas, meet everybody’s needs. If they do that, I don’t think there is going to be a problem.”
It may turn out a formal parking lot could be the perfect use, Mangnuson said, but he wants to have an open discussion with the council and feels other people want the same.
Nevertheless, he isn’t sure how many people will show up for the 7 p.m. council session on Monday.
“There’s no way of telling, you put things out there and hopefully that will drive people down there,” he said.
The council meets in chambers at City Hall, 2060 McHenry Ave.