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Colusa, Williams make moves on downtown revitalization
The Colusa and Williams downtown areas are home to many special events, parades and festivals.
What they are not home to, at least not enough to satisfy city leaders, are businesses.
Consequently, both cities have adopted a kind of "if you build it, they will come" philosophy, and the first part of that is planning.
The Colusa and Williams city councils took steps this week to draw up plans for improving their downtown areas.
Colusa hired City Design Collective on Tuesday to begin the first planning phase of the Downtown Development Plan.
Williams authorized the city administrator on Wednesday to enter into a personal service agreement with the Local Government Commission to complete a transportation plan for the downtown Seventh and E streets corridors.
Colusa is using a $35,000 planning grant to have its consultant develop basic guidelines and concepts for the area bordered east and west by Bridge Street and Highway 45, and north and south from Oak Street to the Sacramento River.
Residential properties are not part of the design process.
What is part of the process is an outreach to the public about what it wants for the downtown, ideas about the kind of businesses that are desired and can work, as well as suggestions about everything from pedestrian paths and public areas to the use of art.
A small part of that will include the riverfront area.
"We want a downtown development plan, and we need a riverfront development plan for the general plan," City Manager Jan McClintock said.
Once the first phase is completed, the city will seek upwards of $100,000 in grant funding to complete a more detailed downtown plan, and to develop a full riverfront plan. It will include an economic analysis as well.
Then the city will use those plans to market the city to potential businesses and developers.
McClintock said three developers have approached the city about the riverfront project, and the city manager said these plans will give groups like those the kind of details they need to formulate their own projects.
Williams is taking a similar approach, but its grant funding, about $119,000, is from a Caltrans fund.
The city has committed $8,000 of its community block grant funds as a match for the project.
"A lot of the input we receive is they want the revitalization of the downtown," said Gary Price, of Price Consulting Services. He is working with LGC on the transportation plan.
It will include a review of retail leakage, identifying businesses that can help Granzella's and Louis Cairo's restaurants anchor the downtown area, and it could be extended to include a broader look at the Old Highway 99W corridor beyond the downtown, and the E Street link to the east side of Interstate 5.
"I know it is a tough economy, but this really is a good time for the City Council to develop its longtime vision," said Josh Meyer, director of Community Planning Programs for LGC.
Meyer said his group will come in and set up shop for about a week trying to get input from the public, the business owners and other stakeholders in the downtown area.
"Then we start doing some sketching; and midway through, we ask the public to come in an look at it," Meyer said.
Once all the economic analysis and public input is completed, then a development plan is created so the city has something to use to market the area, and to show agencies for further funding.
"This puts us in a very good position to secure funding," Price said.
"This more than a general plan. It is a specific plan to make (the city) more competitive to get funding."