Pyle objects to accepting Westwood alley study
“I want to see comments about this report from the Westwood (Community Services District),” Pyle said. “I’ve got a good feeling they’ve never seen this and don’t even know we’re talking about it.”
District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman said it’s ludicrous to assume the county will have up to $8 million to pave the alleys.
“I share Supervisor Pyle’s contempt for the whole concept,” Chapman said. “If we’re going to pave the alleys in gold, so be it. If the Dyer folks want to dyerize Westwood … and turn it into a yuppie town to go with the yuppie development, this is a good way to do it.”
When the board voted in June 2005 to apply for the community development block grant for the feasibility study, Pyle voted in favor. Chapman and District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle cast the only no votes.
The idea came from committee meetings that were held before the adoption of the 2002 Westwood Clear Creek Area Plan. Economic Development director Monica Cochran said county staff had a couple of meetings with the Westwood Community Services District “to see if this was an analysis that they were interested in.”
The state funded the grant in August 2005. Then in April 2007 the board approved a contract with Quad Knopf in Roseville. The completed study recommended a three-phase approach to implementing its recommendations.
Alley clean up in the first phase would be followed by creating permanent public easements and separating private property from the public right of way in the alleys using three-foot-high chain-link or post-and-cable fences.
For 25 blocks of alleys, the projected cost to remove the cars and trash and install the fence is $462,500. If the county has to buy the right of way on 25 blocks at $34,100 per block, the total cost will be $852,500.
The second phase includes water main improvements and relocating overhead utilities.
“Undergrounding the utilities is not recommended due to the expense,” according to Community Development Director Conrad Montgomery’s staff report.
The report says costs of putting utilities underground vary depending on conditions, but Lassen Municipal Utility District currently charges between $7.50 and $19 per circuit foot for line extensions on new construction. The study estimates a total cost of $3.19 million.
Just to replace the water mains will cost an estimated $1 million. The total estimate assumes a cost of $40,100 per block.
The third phase includes a storm water drainage system and adding a 10-foot-wide compacted gravel road or a 12-foot-wide asphalt-paved road down the middle of each alley. Gravel would cost an estimated $990,000. Asphalt paving would cost an estimated $1.4 million.
Potential funding sources identified in the study include Bicycle Transportation Account funds administered by Caltrans, state economic development revolving loans and federal economic adjustment assistance.
Cochran asked the board to accept the plan as complete and close the grant out.
“We have paid (Quad Knopf) the money for the work they’ve done,” said Assistant Community Development Director Joe Bertotti, adding the county won’t get it’s money back if the board doesn’t accept the study.
“Well, there’s a lot about this report I don’t like,” Pyle said. “The removal of abandoned vehicles, garbage and debris, I think that’s what the community was looking for.”
Who owns the alleys?
He said the study raised a lot of legal issues. The report said there is no document on record allowing the public to use the alleys as roads.
“We’ve never been able to get a clear legal opinion on who owns the alleys,” Pyle said.
According to Cochran, Quad Knopf’s research on the 1957 subdivision map found the alleys were created by easements granted to public utilities, such as LMUD and the community services district. The land still belongs to each private property owner.
“They were not recorded as any kind of thoroughfare,” Cochran said.
If the county wants to go forward with this project, Quad Knopf recommended, “the first step would be to do community outreach and see if the community is even interested in this,” Cochran said.
Pyle said Westwood residents would see accepting the report as the board trying to shove it down their throats.
“In their mind, it’s what we are going to do,” Pyle said.
Before he could support accepting the plan, Pyle said he would have to see more support from community.
Pyle announced his intention to present the study to the Westwood CSD at its Monday, Dec. 3 meeting.
After that presentation, County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen may prepare a statement saying the board accepts the report but finds it is not feasible to implement it.
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