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City to split Big Gun Quarry property

Historical community member shames council for approving plan
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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Historical community members are not satisfied with the latest plan to partially save the Big Gun Quarry on Pacific Street from a state-mandated sale.
 
The new Property Management Plan presented to the City Council for consensus at its Oct. 23 meeting would split the 7.2 acre site, recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, into three parcels. The city hopes to save parcel one, the quarry pit, which is designated for public use, and parcel two, a landlocked parcel behind Memorial Park.
 
 The third parcel along Pacific Street, including the century-old work sheds, is designated for sale to a potential buyer.
Rocklin Heritage Committee member Gene Johnson wanted the city to submit all three parcels to ask the state to save everything.
 
“I thought we were going to save the part with the buildings on it,” Johnson told the council. “I think a good case could be made that the entire property should be transferred to the city. If it were transferred to the city, at that point, we would have everlasting control on what happens to the property.”
 
Mayor Brett Storey said the current proposal is the best option.
 
“I understand what you’re saying, and I think the council does, but I don’t personally think that is the case,” Storey said. “That is not what the state is interested in. The state is interested in cash. We’re trying to save the site as best we can.”
 
Council member Peter Hill feared the state’s budget crisis could make it uncooperative when looking for cash from a site that could be sold to a developer.
 
“It’s unfortunate that we’re in the situation that we are,” Hill said. “We bought this for a specific reason and the records are pretty clear about that.”
 
The city paid $1 million in November 2010 for the site. The paper trail indicates it was for development first, and not for preservation until later.
 
“The State Department of Finance is playing hardball all over the state,” Hill said. “If we try to finagle this, the chances are we’ll lose everything. The way it is presented makes a lot of sense.”
 
Rocklin Historical Society member David Baker thought parcel 3 was a strange property to put up for sale.
 
“What are we going to have there? How many more strip malls do we need? We could be stuck with something really horrible,” he said.
 
Upset with the parcel split, Heritage Committee member Carol Ellis, who led the effort to get the whole 7.2-acre quarry site listed on the National Register of Historic Places, held up the plaque commemorating the listing.
 
“Where am I going to put this now?” she asked. “It doesn’t say the property next door. It says this property is on the National Register.”
 
With plaque in hand, Ellis shamed council members as they came out of the meeting.
 
“You guys are awful,” she said. “You should be ashamed of what you do to our city and our heritage. You don’t preserve our heritage. What you do, you should be ashamed of.”
 
“They sicken me,” she added. “I think it is horrible how they want to chop it up and make it look like someone is winning. No one is winning.”
 
Council member George Magnuson, who is up for re-election Nov. 6, stopped to defend the city’s plan.
 
“I wasn’t willing to take the gamble of losing the parcel there,” he said. “We may be able to secure the parcel to put the historic items on. We may not be able to save the whole thing.”
 
By consensus the council directed city staff to move forward with the plan as recommended. According to city officials, a final vote can not be done until the State Department of Finance finishes a scheduled audit on Rocklin’s former Redevelopment Agency, abolished earlier this year by the state Legislature.
 
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Big Gun Quarry Split
*Parcel 1: Quarry pit next to City Hall
*Parcel 2: Vacant lot behind Centennial Park
Parcel 3: Work shed lot with Pacific Street frontage
*saved for public use
 
Source: City of Rocklin