Article Last Updated: 10/27/2005 06:35 AM
Traffic fears mar fairgrounds plan
By GREG MOBERLY, Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Simulated cars rushed across a new Turner Parkway overpass as concerned citizens quickly jockeyed Wednesday to question the real impacts of a proposed fairgrounds redevelopment.
Again, as with the previous week's open house meeting, most individuals attending had a vested interest in the project. But there were a few new faces at the meeting. Among them were officials from Mills Corp., the project's developer, and Solano County Fair, and opposition group members.
Mills has proposed redeveloping the fairgrounds into a year-round attraction with residential villages, shops, walking trails, streams and parkland to be mixed with annual fair activities.
The property is located on 152 acres between Highway 37 and Coach Lane, just off of Interstate 80. Mills consultant Brian Clark said with or without a fairgrounds redevelopment there are traffic problems. Mary Crane, who lived in a nearby trailer park, had no doubt about that.
"I have trouble getting out onto Fairgrounds Drive now," Crane said of her morning commute. She said she heard "a whole lot of uncertainties" about the project Wednesday that failed to set her mind at ease.
Steve Harris, a transportation engineer with Wells & Associates, explained how he saw a four lane Turner Parkway overcrossing connecting to a widened Fairgrounds Drive to move traffic quicker.
Fairgrounds Coalition for Responsible Development member Janet Sylvain said she wanted to take more time viewing the project's Web site (fairofthefuture.com) to better comprehend the traffic impact with the overcrossing.
The Fairgrounds Coalition for Responsible Development is a group backed by downtown Vallejo businesses and the Westfield Corp., which owns Westfield Shoppingtown Solano in Fairfield.
The previous week Sylvain said traffic impacts are a main concern.
Andy Kinane of Benicia talked with project developers and still wasn't certain how the traffic would improve either.
"It still isn't very clear how they're going to handle it," Kinane said. He said he liked the village concept.
Mike Brown, with the Vallejo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he favored much of what he heard of the project.
"Any project like this that'll boost tourism is a positive," Brown said.
But coalition members and others told Clark they didn't hear enough to set them at ease.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors have until the end of the year to decide whether to move ahead with the redevelopment plans. Clark has said the project will be tweaked before then.
Vallejo resident Darrell Edwards said he's not against the project but didn't like the meeting's open house format.
"It allows Mills to be in control at all times," Edwards said. He said he would have preferred an assembly type format where people listen and then ask questions.
Coalition member Paula Culbertson, who has voiced opposition to the project, said there are still a lot of people in Vallejo who don't know about the project.
- E-mail Greg Moberly at GMoberly@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6833.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
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