Downtown properties in jeopardy

Fate of library, museum and Big Gun Quarry in hands of proposed oversight board
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Whether or not Rocklin saves or sells its History Museum, Big Gun Quarry or the new library facility on Granite Drive will be the focus of the oversight board being established by the Placer County Board of Supervisors. The state wants these properties as well as two vacant lots in downtown sold off to the highest bidder as a way to feed California’s budget deficit. However, Rocklin is hoping to save a few of those properties. Rocklin’s City Council members are currently serving in a dual role as the so-called successor agency, the body charged with making preliminary decisions about what happens to redevelopment money and assets. The Oversight Board, which will consist of seven members, will be charged with reviewing those decisions. “It is critical to ensure that any decision the (Rocklin City) Council makes regarding the former Redevelopment Agency will be upheld,” said Mayor Brett Storey. “The council makes all future decisions, the County Oversight Board reviews them and supports or denies the decision. They do not make an independent decision.” The city’s financial dealings under the umbrella of Rocklin’s Redevelopment Agency will face even more scrutiny and red tape since the state’s Department of Finance will now have authority over what decisions are made. “We hope that our city’s decisions are unanimously upheld, if appropriate, by the Oversight Board and then the state would take that recommendation. The last thing any of us want is the state deciding what to do with our resources,” Storey said. He wants the city’s top two city officials, the mayor and the city manager, to serve on the board. However, the Rocklin Historical Society wants someone with their interests in mind to serve on the Oversight Board. Skip Gebel, president of the Rocklin Historical Society, wants to have former Rocklin Redevelopment Commissioner Jeff Holtz appointed. “(Holtz) as the former City Manager in Yuba City, he gained experience with guiding historic preservation in their downtown area,” Gebel said. Historical Society members are dismayed by the uncertainty caused over the city’s demolition order for the century old work sheds at the Big Gun Quarry last year as well and the opposition to the site’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Holtz indicated he will apply for a seat on the board because he wants to help. “My desire is to save all the assets the city has acquired through redevelopment. We should decide what happens,” Holtz said. It’s unclear whether the city will ultimately sell the Big Gun Quarry property in this process. “We will be working to save the building in the same fashion as the library and museum,” City Manager Rick Horst said. Even so, Mayor Storey expressed regret over the quarry purchase. “The council needs to understand the legal and economic ramifications of our potential actions before deciding any issue,” Storey said. “I would say that I personally would love to see the library and museum be protected as the city has invested in them heavily and they are used substantially by the public. I have already stated on the record I did not think it was a good idea to buy the quarry and I regret that we did so,” Storey said. And he believes that Holtz should not serve on the oversight board. “Jeff does not have the necessary Rocklin background nor would he be fully engaged in the decision making process of the council now that we were forced to disband the agency,” Storey said. According to the county, “beneficial experience” to be a member of the Oversight Board includes the ability to use computer systems to do research and familiarity with government finance. Holtz said everyone needs to work together. “My feelings are that we’re a small community. We all need to work together; the historical society and the city - everybody,” Holtz said. “We all have to get behind a common plan.” In Placer County, there will be five oversight boards: one for the county itself, and one each for the cities of Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn and Lincoln. The deadline to apply to serve on any of the oversight boards is close of business on Friday. Anyone interested in applying to serve on the board should contact the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors Office, 175 Fulweiler Ave. in Auburn or call (530) 889-4020.