By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Beautification Bids Due For Downtown
Placeholder Image
The first part of Riverbank's downtown redevelopment dealing with the infrastructure and replacing of storm drains, sewer and water lines, is almost complete and the roads are being repaved. The second part, the landscaping and beautification of the city's core, is due to begin. The bid calls are out. City Council is due to award the contract on Aug. 11 and expects construction to begin by September.

That much at least came out of a July 21 study session between the Redevelopment Agency and the Downtown Beautification Committee to confirm members are on the same track and have the same vision for what the downtown can become.

Committee and Agency members also called for more marketing, more publicity, more information on the momentous changes coming in the downtown and the need to bolster its economy.

Agency members Chris Crifasi and Virginia Madueno said it was time to hire a promotional and marketing company to promote the downtown. City Manager Rich Holmer said the city at least will look into the possibility of hiring either a part time or fulltime public information officer.

Committee member Ric McGinnis, more modestly, suggested extra signs pointing to the city's core, especially in the west part of town, would help and not cost that much. The city already has its small, green signs along the highway directing people to the library and city offices. There had been talk at one time of setting up an informational kiosk in the newer section of town.

The joint meeting was a rambling session that featured a wide range of discussions over a variety of vaguely connected subjects. Committee Chairman Dennis Zinner asked near the start, half jokingly, whether the Committee or the Agency had called the meeting and for what purpose.

Queried by citizen Charles Reed, Holmer said he was correct on the costs quoted for turning the Del Rio Theater into a community arts center, about $1.5 million for its purchase and an estimated $6 to $10 million for its rehabilitation. The city has slightly reduced the downtown area to be redeveloped and has the funds to go ahead with the second phase, he added.

Madueno and Crifasi called for the proposed new park called the Plaza Del Rio to be "family oriented." Public Works Director Dave Melilli said the park will be built in conjunction with this second phase of construction but will not take priority in the overall project.

The publicity events planned for the downtown such as an Art Walk in August and a "Green Thursday" in September are great, Madueno said, but the city needs to draw the entrepreneurs downtown.

"We need to get every shop occupied," she said. "The construction work has been hard for them (the merchants). It hasn't been just the construction. There's the slow economy as well. Some are looking to sell."

Downtown business owner Karen Bickford asked what the city is doing to attract new business, saying she approved of the coming beautification and coordination in colors and architecture, but at the moment saw many empty buildings.

Agency member Dave White scoffed at the idea of downtown becoming a haunt for browsing shoppers.

"It has some destination stores like Meyers," he said. "But you're not going to get tourists wandering up one side of the street and down the other. There are no stores."