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Residents take shots at Council over Moore Road

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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City Council was under fire Tuesday night for two hours by residents of the homes cut off from easy access downtown Wednesday with the permanent closure of Moore Road. Of the approximately 50 audience members from the Red Hawk and Hawk’s Landing subdivisions at the meeting, about 15 made accusations and demanded answers at the podium during the public comment session. The anger and concern centered on closing Moore Road during Highway 65 bypass construction. Closing the road from Delancy to Portello to allow the bypass to pass through will cut off the main access route to the heart of Lincoln for 200 homes until Sorrento Parkway can be completed. The closure of Moore Road was announced March 20, but that was countermanded March 24 when the city of Lincoln reached an agreement with Caltrans to keep one lane open, according to previous news reports. Everything changed again March 30 when Caltrans announced to the city of Lincoln that the road closure was back on, set for April 13. Angry residents held an impromptu meeting at the proposed closure site April 2, which city officials attended. Moore Road closed yesterday, having been delayed two days by rain Friday. Mayor Spencer Short’s assurances that none of the services the city offers will be withheld from residents during the six to eight weeks it will take to build Sorrento Parkway did little to mollify the residents. “We’re all being hugely financially impacted,” said Lincoln resident Liza Stefani. As a nurse, Stefani said, the extra 10 minutes it takes to commute to Sacramento makes her unable to accept on-call shifts, which make up about 25 percent of her family’s income. Stefani questioned whether Sorrento Parkway will actually be ready by the projected completion date of June 12. “Everything else the council has said turned out to be not true the next day so I’m skeptical,” Stefani said. Terry Rodrigue, interim public works director for the city of Lincoln , said construction on Sorrento Parkway will begin Monday, and will be completed by June 12, barring weather delays. “We have the (emergency vehicle access route) completed,” Short said to quiet concerns over public-safety access. Despite one resident quoting a 10-minute response time for the fire department to reach her house, Fire Chief Dave Whitt said response times will be 6 1/2 to 7 minutes at the most, which is in line with other areas of the city at the outside range of coverage. Police Chief Brian Vizzusi said police responses will be the same, as there is always an officer on patrol in Lincoln Crossing, and all public safety officials will have keys to the chains strung across either end of the access route. “We’re very disappointed in our local government,” said Lincoln resident Jeff Williams. “Your attitude toward the residents at the (April 2) meeting was terrible.” Williams added that city officials were on the side of Caltrans. “I’m sorry if you feel we haven’t been supportive,” Short said, pointing out that city of Lincoln officials were the only ones who showed up to the impromptu April 2 meeting held by outraged citizens. Some residents at Tuesday's meeting said they plan to boycott Lincoln businesses to deprive the city of tax dollars, saying they are now much closer to Roseville and Rocklin, adding city officials would make an effort if they cared about businesses. “If you think we’re doing a terrible job, reflect that,” said Councilman Tom Cosgrove, “but don’t go after our business owners just to punish us. I think that’s a very unfair thing to do.” As more residents took to the podium, they listed the hardships imposed upon them, including an extra 20 minutes on a round-trip commute to Sacramento, needing to get kids to the bus stop 80 minutes before school starts and concerns over whether the mail service would be able to reach them. City officials assured them the U.S. Post office will continue to serve the area. Some residents threw out accusations of lying and negligence, with Lincoln resident Nancy Hurley calling for Cosgrove’s resignation after learning he has spent 12 years on the council and has served on the subcommittee that handles streets. Lincoln Resident David Loya came to the council’s defense. “Poor Tom, we’ve been chewing on your right ear for 10 years to get the trucks off (Highway) 65,” Loya said. “In absolutely no way do I think it’s appropriate to talk about a recall or who your campaign donors are.” Despite the tone of the meeting, Loya was "thrilled to see so many citizens taking an active part in their local government" but cautioned them to keep matters in perspective. “There are many in this community who would give their right arm to have this problem,” Loya said. “They’re struggling to keep a roof over their heads.” Resident Vic Freeman, who regularly attends City Council meetings, also defended the council. “I’m really quite astounded at what I’ve heard,” Freeman said. “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but the personal attacks on the mayor and the council members is wrong. I personally know all of them and their integrity is 100 percent.” Freeman said if he lived in Red Hawk or Hawk’s Landing, he’d be upset as well but he called the personal attacks reprehensible and rude. Short reiterated that Caltrans is controlling the road closure, as the bypass is a Caltrans project and said the completion of Sorrento Parkway is the city’s No. 1 transportation concern. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.