Another View: Big Gun Quarry sheds represent history

By: Gene Johnson, Special to the Placer Herald
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This year a number of considerations have come to light suggesting that we reconsider the plan that would result in removal of the Big Gun buildings (on Pacific Street at Rocklin Road). Citizen polls show the community wants our historic structures included in downtown; professional opinions indicate the Big Gun buildings can be rehabilitated. And, we now realize that premature removal of the buildings would limit the options available to potential developers -- effectively eliminating consideration by those who would incorporate the historic structures in their project. From both practical and heritage standpoints, the advantages of allowing the structures to remain in place for a period of time appear significant. Skip Gebel, president of the Rocklin Historical Society, addressed the Rocklin City Council on Sept. 13 and formally requested the city delay plans to remove the Big Gun buildings. His request would allow the community time to reconsider the fate of the historic quarry sheds in light of recent information indicating that rehabilitation of the structures and their use in a commercial setting may be desirable and practical. Council members received packets of information including John Chase’s artist rendering of rehabilitated Big Gun Sheds as the common area of a Quarry Village; a 13-point justification for recommending delaying removal of the sheds; a petition/poll in support of a one-year delay signed by 310 persons. Vice Mayor Storey, Council members Peter Hill, Diana Ruslin and Scott Yuill were present at last week’s meeting. Eight presentations were made by citizens in support of the request for a delay . Vice Mayor Storey brought up an additional concern. Rather than referring the issues to the Citizens’ Redevelopment Advisory Committee or city staff for consideration and guidance, the request for a delay was denied on the spot and direction given to proceed immediately with the plan to remove the sheds. Unbelievably, we are clearly on the path to losing the only surviving structures representing the very essence of our community’s heritage – sacrificed by rigid adherence to scrape and wait planning of the past. Led by our city, that by California law is charged with stewardship of our heritage, we will be destroying what is arguably Rocklin’s most valuable cultural asset. I am convinced the city of Rocklin and the community at large can pull together, as we have in the past, and, somehow avoid this tragedy. For images of Big Gun as it was, is and could be can be seen in the SOS (Save our Sheds) ad on Page A3 of the Placer Herald. -- Gene Johnson is chairman of the Rocklin Historical Society Big Gun Committee.