Thursday Dec 18 2008
Loomis Promenade on its way
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
Agreement reached to acquire land from Union Pacific RR
Here’s a new word to add to the Loomis lexicon: Loomis Promenade. That’s the name the Town of Loomis is giving, for now, to the project it will develop on property it has acquired along the railroad tracks. After 10 years of on-and-off negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad, the Loomis Town Council at its Dec. 9 meeting accepted the offer of $1.355 million to acquire 7.04 acres of mostly unimproved land. Under the purchase agreement, Union Pacific also donated 3.48 acres, bringing the total to over 10.5 acres. The purchase was made with funds the town has set aside through the years since its incorporation in 1984, said Mayor Walter Scherer, who completed the transaction Friday when he signed the final escrow papers. The purchased land runs parallel to Taylor Road, from the Blue Goose Fruit Shed at King Road on one end to the High Hand Fruit Shed near Circle Drive at the other. Leases on portions of the property are held by High Hand, WW Moulding, and the South Placer Heritage Foundation, which owns the Blue Goose. “We have requested architectural and design firms to submit their qualifications so that we can select a design team to work with the business people and the residents on a design for the Promenade,” Scherer said. He said the plan is to build a bikeway, a park, a pedestrian pathway, parking, some retail business buildings, and possibly a winery. Scherer wants a “design that would help reinforce the downtown as a place to be. It’s going to be all on this side of the railroad tracks.” After the first of the year, “we will be convening the merchants from shed to shed to form a working group to give guidance and input to the planners and designers,” Scherer added. In addition to agreeing to a price on the purchase price, acquisition has taken a decade because of environmental studies to check contaminants in the soil. There were minor issues, Scherer said, that had to be dealt with in negotiations. He said that at one time there was an aboveground fuel tank near the current site of WW Moulding. Town Manager Perry Beck said that, under current regulations of the State Water Resources Board, the town doesn’t “believe there will be a problem, especially if the site is used for road improvements or parking.” That would change, however, if building occurred at the site. “You would then have to dispose of the soil in an approved site, and that can get to be costly,” Beck said. Beck has been involved in negotiations with Union Pacific since he became town manager in April 2000. “I’m glad it’s concluded,” he said, “because now we can go ahead with the planning and add to the downtown business opportunities.” Scherer also announced that in February the town will launch a public participation program to plan out the area behind Raley’s from Horseshoe Bar Road to King Road. Notices and invitations will be included in Auburn Placer Disposal Service bills, informing citizens about the meeting and inviting them to participate, he said. He said it was a method that proved successful in getting the public to participate in 1992 when the Downtown Master Plan was created. The Town Council was scheduled to discuss adoption of the plan at a continued meeting held Dec. 15.