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Rocklin OKs destruction of quarry shed

Historical society considers referendum to reverse council's decision
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Despite concerned citizens’ pleas, a possible philanthropic donor willing to assist as well as a threat to bring it to a referendum, Rocklin City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to demolish the century old work sheds at the Big Gun Quarry property on Pacific Street. Council member Scott Yuill was absent. “The only credible option we have is to try to protect it as much as it is — take it down and store it until such time it can be sold to a developer, we hope, can take the historical nature of it and put it back together,” said Vice Mayor Brett Storey. The city is now expected to use contractor Geocon Consultants, Inc. to remove the remaining sheds on the property in order to render the site safe, according to city documents. City officials indicate the plan is to salvage whatever wood can be saved and store it at the city’s Corporation Yard on Alvis Court until a development proposal is approved. The contractor would also remove the historic crane from the main building in an effort to preserve it as an artifact, per their existing contract with the city. Gene Johnson, president of the Rocklin Historical Society, proposed other preservation options, which centered on a delay in demolition, which could run between an estimated $100,000 and $620,000. “Whether by providence or procrastination, the sheds remain standing — offering an opportunity for preservation,” Johnson said. “We will be on the path to losing the only surviving structures representing the very essence of community’s heritage.” He told the council a Roseville developer has expressed interest in covering the cost of preserving the site. Before he could spell out the details, however, Johnson was cut off by Mayor George Magnuson, who said he had run out of time. Johnson has complained the city and the historical society were victims of communication problems during the development of the plan to purchase the Big Gun Quarry property. The city used $1 million in redevelopment funds to purchase the property in late 2010. In March, the city moved forward with a plan to officially close the mine and demolish the building without meeting with the historical society. A lawsuit before the state Supreme Court over the Governor’s plan to scrap redevelopment agencies could result in the property being turned over to the state. “It is frustrating to us,” Storey said. “The issue is not scraping the ground and putting in retail. We may not necessarily have control of the land much longer. My biggest regret is we bought it at all.” Magnuson added that the city just doesn’t have the funds. “The council has gone out of its way to help and preserve when we can,” Magnuson said. “We don’t have the cash to deal with that right now.” Eight concerned citizens addressed the council with many more supporters filling the council chambers. Mike Clark, who lives on historic Front Street, pleaded with the council. “The citizens of Rocklin want to save it. The Historical Society wants to save it. You had it in your control for six months and you want to scrape it away,” Clark said. “We plead that you don’t do that.” Even in the face of defeat, the Historical Society raised concerns the city would not even allow them to supervise the demolition to ensure none of the materials were overly damaged by demo crews. “We propose the Historical Society, acting under a licensed contractor, conduct the disassembly project with city staff oversight,” said Historical Society member Danielle Loebs. “We would propose material preserved be not limited to just wood because there are some other items there of great historic value.” However, the council would not consider the proposal, voting instead to work with Geocon. After the meeting, City Manager Rick Horst vowed not to start demolition until the city talks with the Historical Society. Loebs did indicate the Historical Society is considering a public referendum to reverse the council’s decision. “A citizen has a right to bring an issue that was passed by the city council to a vote again,” Loebs said. “If we were to put that to a vote, we believe that we would reverse the ruling.” For more information on working with the Rocklin Historical Society, visit www.rocklinhistory.org.