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Revitalization Funds Awarded To City
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Armed with a 'smart growth' grant and in line for some additional funding, the City of Escalon is going to do some downtown revitalization.

City Engineer John Abrew said the city was awarded a Measure K Smart Growth Improvement Program grant last year for $25,000 and has now parlayed that into additional funds from the American Recovery Revitalization Act, or ARRA.

"Purpose of that grant ($25,000 in Measure K money) was specifically for planning and preliminary engineering for First Street and downtown improvements," Abrew explained. "It was a competitive grant that we wrote the proposal for, when we were scored, we came out on top."

Goal is to help the city better integrate transportation in the downtown area, as well as provide some infrastructure and landscaping from streetscaping to beautification projects.

"More specifically we're looking at improving the walkability of the area, we want to bring the sidewalks up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, improve the street lighting."

That will include taking all overhead utilities and putting them underground, said Abrew.

A joint Escalon City Council and Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 26 at the Escalon Community Center from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to discuss the project. Members of the public are also asked to attend to provide some input.

"Plans and specifications must be in to Caltrans by December of this year," Abrew said of getting the project on the fast track.

As part of the conditions for the ARRA money, the project has to be ready to go to construction by February, 2010.

"We plan to do construction in the spring," Abrew said.

The ARRA money, $300,000 for the project, was obtained via the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

Escalon's downtown revitalization was determined to be a 'smart growth' project and therefore awarded the funds.

"We want to hear from any and all community members," Abrew said of taking comment on the proposed work. "After the joint meeting there will be a special Planning Commission meeting on Nov. 4, which will give a chance for more public input and then we should get council finalization at the Nov. 16 council meeting."

The city is working with Omni-Means out of Roseville for some of the design work, particularly streetscaping.

"For $300,000 we think we should be able to get everything underground, put in the amenities and streetscape from McHenry to Main," Abrew said of improving the First Street corridor.

The $300,000 due for this project is actually in addition to $149,000 the city was awarded for rehabilitation work on Yosemite Avenue near Escalon High School, with that work also due in the spring.

"We're very excited," Abrew said of picking up a total of nearly a half million dollars for the improvement projects.