By a 3-0 vote, Riverbank City Council members on Monday night gave approval for an environmental impact report that could eventually pave the way for downtown revitalization.
The council, in its regular meeting, agreed to certify the EIR for the Downtown Riverbank Specific Plan, but were quick to add that there isn’t really a plan, just a general idea for future development. Nothing is set in stone, but the idea is to bring in a mix of shops and residential, centered around the site of the former cannery, and including portions of the existing downtown corridor.
Councilwoman Darlene Barber-Martinez excused herself from the discussion and the vote, citing the fact that she is a business owner downtown and voting on the matter could be a conflict of interest. Mayor Richard O’Brien and councilmembers Dotty Nygard and Jeanine Tucker voted to certify the EIR, which allows the city to move forward. When a move might occur is anyone’s guess, as many factors would have to fall into place to start the revitalization, including an upturn in the economy and the local housing market. Roughly 218 acres was included in the plan and attorney Doug White reiterated that there are no specifics in place yet, that the council is “in the first stage” of looking at the possibilities.
City Development Director J.D. Hightower earlier said the plan is to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly and offer variety. Matthew Gerken with AECOM out of Sacramento presented the information regarding the EIR, recommending the council approve it.