Those of who have been waiting for the City of Goleta to start the beautification of Old Town Goleta are about to see their day come at last. But before we get to have Old Town the way we want it, we have to go through the pains of having all the necessary infrastructural work done. Since first things go first, the city will have to start with the San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement Project.
This project was planned even before the City of Goleta became a city. Why? To avoid the floods that have affected the city as far back as in the ’50s and as recently as 1995. Today, the San Jose Creek work is considered the first step for the Old Town Revitalization Plan.
Steve Wagner, community services director for the City of Goleta, enthusiastically explained: “What’s unique about this project is that it is a multi-objective one. It reduces flood hazards, and at the same time it will provide environmental benefits by restoring fish passage during low flows. The project will take no longer than two years from start to completion, and it will be divided in two stages. The first stage, at the lower part of the creek, will focus on the removal and reconstruction of the concrete channel. The second stage will focus on the reconstruction of the bridge at Hollister Avenue.”
Although most people understand the importance of avoiding possible floods, particularly in Old Town, some concerns have been raised, the main one being the impact that the construction will have on the adjacent businesses. “The city of Goleta acknowledges this concern,” Wagner commented. “As a mitigation measure, we have restricted the time for the contractor to no more than two years to complete the entire project, and we will have full-time engineers from the city on site. They will be responsible for making sure that things move along at the right pace. The other thing, of course, is that there will be uninterrupted access to businesses during the length of the construction.”
Although the business owners’ concerns are well taken, the benefits are too many to be ignored. Besides reducing flood hazards and providing direct environmental benefits, the project will also have a positive effect on businesses’ bottom lines by reducing the federal requirement for flood insurance, which is very costly.
So, just as infrastructure is the starting point for revitalization plans in other cities, in Old Town Goleta this will be the case too. Goleta residents have spoken, and the beautification of the Old Town Hollister corridor is their main priority. They want it, and they want it now. From this point of view, we can conclude that the sooner the San Jose Creek Project is done, the faster the next stages of the corridor’s face-lift will become a reality.
There will be a meeting at City Hall on Thursday, June 30 at 1:30 p.m. to talk about the details of this project and to award the contract. Whether you live in Old Town or have a business there, this is your opportunity to have a say, and to have your questions answered. For more information please call the City of Goleta at (805) 961-7500.