Wednesday Aug 17 2011
Let’s help downtown Lincoln flourish Let’s help downtown Lincoln flourish
By: Carol Feineman Lincoln News Messenger Editor
Two of the four downtown business owners attending the Lincoln Boulevard Improvements Project workshop Aug. 11 liked what they heard. The other two had reservations. The project will hopefully bring more residents and visitors downtown. “You’re taking people passing through to a destination town. I applaud you,” said Leslie Campbell, The Green Goat owner to workshop facilitator Mark Miller. Miller is the city of Lincoln’s public services director and the city’s representative for the project. The project’s first phase includes shortening the downtown traffic-light timing cycles from up to five minutes to “a pedestrian-priority mode,” making handicapped-accessibility improvements and adding bike and NEV lanes, Miller said this week. Improvements will begin by next summer, in time for the Highway 65 Bypass opening, according to Miller. G Street, between Athens to Wise Road, was renamed Lincoln Boulevard several years ago by City Council, according to Miller. New signage will reflect that name change “over the course of the project.” “These early treatments will give you a sense of place,” Miller told last week’s workshop crowd of about 70. “Someone passing through will say, ‘This looks like a charming town.’” Campbell, whose Green Goat Store is at 660 5th St., agrees. Lincoln “is a bedroom community that people tend to go away from to shop,” Campbell said. But the city is turning downtown “into a destination place” with the Lincoln Boulevard project. “I like what they did. It’s pretty cool,” Campbell said. “I’m more impressed with the proposed arches and trellises, what gets people driving on Highway 65 to Yuba City, that extra special touch that says, ‘Let’s stop here before we get to Yuba City.’ It takes Lincoln from a drive-by town to they have something going on.” Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop (307 G St.) owner Pam Lopez, who is the downtown marketing and branding chairwoman, also appreciates the project. “I think the project is wonderful,” Lopez said. “It is so exciting that we all live here and can see this start of the transformation of downtown. It’s the beginning steps. We all envision a quaint little fun place to hang around and dine.” Lopez also credits the city with setting money aside for this project “a couple of years ago” in anticipation of the highway bypass completion. Phase One engineering and design funding is from Federal Congestion Management and Air Quality grant funds, administered by Caltrans, and Transportation Development Act funds, according to Miller. He pointed out to last week's workshop audience that Lincoln funds are not being touched and that the money is not from the General Fund that pays for public safety services. The city’s cost, Miller said in late May, is providing staff time and support. That cost equals approximately $47,890 and is from the city’s street and engineering funds. Leaving last week’s workshop with doubts was Al Holland, owner of Lincoln City Barber Shop on 670 5th St. Holland is concerned with the timing of when Caltrans gives G Street to the city. “I understand that it’s a petition process with bureaucratic delays. I’m not sure that this project, with limited funding, will ever take off,” Holland said. But Miller says it will take place. “It’s in Caltrans’ interest to give it to the city. Caltrans continues to incur costs until that relinquishment is complete,” Miller said this week. Plus funds “are committed” by Caltrans to the project, according to Miller. “My second concern is that the streets in Roseville that the Lincoln Boulevard consultant had something to do with, I don't see an abundance of commerce there,” Holland said. “Sure, they have fancy grates around trees but I don’t see a lot of economic commerce where people are flocking.” Holland suggests bringing residents and visitors downtown through service-based businesses and retail stores. “The gift downtown Lincoln has is its working community,” Holland said. “People come to buy tires, get haircuts, shop at the Mexican bakery.” Another business owner leaving the workshop with questions was Terry Dorsey, president of Dorsey Capitol Management on 517 G St. “Two things bothered me. I was disappointed they changed angle parking back to the parking we currently have and took up space they saved with adding NEV and bicycle lanes on G Street,” Dorsey said. “Angle parking would have given more parking space, which is needed, for people to shop downtown.” Dorsey also doesn’t want logging trucks traveling on Lincoln Boulevard. “I understand the politicians intend to allow Sierra Pacific logging trucks to use their present route from Highway 193 to 65, thus going downtown,” Dorsey said. “Over $300 million has been spent to get a bypass and to let the logging trucks use the core downtown route will negate any positives that come from this project. City Council allegedly wants to help downtown business owners attract more business and to encourage new businesses to come to town.” “City Council has to get trucks off G Street because shoppers are intimidated by the large numbers of huge trucks on the road,” Dorsey added. Whether Lincoln Boulevard project improvements begin next year, I'm glad to see more dialogue from residents and business owners. And downtown Lincoln is attracting new businesses, including a jewelry store next to The Green Goat, the Sew Katie Jean store across the street and hopefully Cool Hand Luke's Steakhouse/Saloon a few doors away. We owe it to downtown merchants to help them attract the visitors they deserve.