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No Go Ruling On First Street
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There won't be any changes to the First Street corridor in Escalon, at least for the time being.

City council members have opted not to move forward with a proposed beautification project as part of an overall downtown renewal, with a deadline looming for funding and too many details still to be worked out.

As initially proposed, the project would have included some landscaping along First Street from McHenry to Main as well as some cosmetic improvements on Main Street.

Funds for the project were due from Measure K, through a 'smart growth' grant and the city also was slated to receive funding from the American Recovery Revitalization Act, ARRA, to help complete work from under-grounding of utilities to enhanced street lighting.

Interim City Manager Doug Dunford said officials hope to review the project and eventually go through with it in some form, but need to do additional planning to adequately address concerns regarding parking, right of way and other issues.

City engineer John Abrew had originally hoped to meet the ambitious timetable of having the project plan ready this month, with the goal of starting construction work in the spring.

"The council voted not to move forward with it at this time," he said, agreeing with Dunford that they will go back and fine tune the proposal before bringing it back to the council again.

Both said the improvement project is aimed at enhancing the downtown area and the corridor that links Main Street to McHenry via First Street. Increasing the 'walkability' of the area and smoothing out the railroad crossings, as well as making sidewalks ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant are additional goals.

Meanwhile, the council meeting of Monday, Dec. 21 is scheduled to include a presentation by members of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, outlining their proposal to take over electric service in the area from Pacific Gas and Electric.

"We've got people from PG&E calling us, saying they want to be there as well," Dunford said. "We may have to move the meeting to the community center if we get a big crowd."

Normally, the first and third Monday meetings are staged in the Ekholm Room of the Escalon Library. Dunford said it may move this coming week to the community center and those interested in attending can contact City Hall at 838-4100 to learn the location.