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Residents’ reactions mixed over federal-funded project

Funds flow for Antelope Creek fix-up
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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City lobbying efforts have pushed a new federal grant through Congress that will pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into a local creek, but some residents have mixed emotions about the project. One of the reasons Tim and Debra Page bought their current home on Bryce Way 21 years ago was the appeal of Antelope Creek and the nearby Sunset East Park that backs up to their house. “It is a beautiful area,” Debra Page said. Wheelock Oliver enjoys the creek from the other side of the bank from his home on Allen Drive. “There are salmon running through and trout,” Oliver said. ”There is a lot of turkey there, fox and hawks and all sorts of wildlife.” City officials lobbied Senator Diane Feinstein to include a $500,000 grant to fix-up Antelope Creek in the 2010 Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill, which passed out of committee two weeks ago and now awaits a final vote in the Senate. “The erosion problem has been an issue for many years,” said Vice Mayor Scott Yuill who represented the city in February when he traveled to Washington, D.C. to help secure the grant. “Because this erosion affects habitat throughout the entire Dry Creek Watershed, there is an interest on a federal level to correct it,” he said. According to the city funding request, the project consists of moving the current channel away from the steep, cliff-like banks that are being eroded, which will improve water quality for salmon habitat, and will also decrease the incidence of flooding upstream from Sunset East Park. Tim Page said flooding isn’t an issue for his property. “I don’t see the benefit,” Page said. “My wife and I believe the city of Roseville had resolved all this 10 years ago. When we first moved here it flooded quite frequently but since (Roseville) took care of Linda Creek there hasn’t been any flooding.” The recreated channel is expected to improve the existing fish habitat and restore native plant species, according to the city. Oliver said he thinks the improvements may get in the way of the natural look. “I don’t see where it needs any work.” Oliver said. “It is a waste of money. They could take that $500,000 and help some children or take care of some families instead of fix a creek that doesn’t need to be fixed.” Oliver’s next-door neighbor Brett Carlson agrees and said the plan for the money should be rethought in this down economy. “I just don’t think now is the time to be doing it,” Carlson said. “You can see some of the banks that erode out, but it is not like chunks are missing. I’ve lived in Rocklin all my life and that creek hasn’t changed much.” Debra Page understands the appeal of the improvement the tax money would bring literally to her backyard, but believes the recession should be more of a priority. “This is not the time to be thinking about fixing the creek,” she said. “I’d rather see them spend the money on something we really need in California.” The city is experiencing decreased tax revenue and increased pressure to lower costs during the recession. The new federal grant is seen as a bonus for the city struggling to balance the budget even though it will not have any effect on the city’s bottom-line. “The federal government worries about salmon and endangered species,” said City Manager Carlos Urrutia. ”If we can help implement the federal programs at the local level, then we can use the money they have available for that particular purpose.” The project also calls for a cobble weir to be installed at an existing gas and sewer pipe crossing over the creek to reduce down cut and increase pipe stability. Councilman Brett Storey said the project is very positive for surrounding residents and the city at large. “This is going to help the tax payers of Rocklin tremendously,” Storey said. “If you have ever been out there, it is deteriorating really fast. We’re keeping the park as it should stay.” Antelope Creek snakes through Rocklin from Loomis off Sierra College Boulevard all the way through Johnson Springview Park passing under Sunset Boulevard to Sunset East Park before heading into Roseville. Franklin Burris lives upstream in the Yankee Hill subdivision and believes the federal money will go elsewhere if the city doesn’t go and get it. “It is either going to go here or some other watershed,” Burris said. “If Rocklin can attract that money locally and have those improvements, it’s fantastic.” Yuill said citizens will not be aware of the savings the city will gain from this project. “The reality is that if the city didn’t secure these funds now and make the repairs, the erosion problem will deteriorate over time to a point that either a state or federal regulatory body might force Rocklin to make the repairs on its dime,” Yuill said. “ I can hear people criticizing the city then for not securing federal funds when it had the chance.”  If the bill becomes law, the city could start work as early as next spring. Jon Brines can be reached at jonathanbrines@yahoo.com.