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Conceptual plans were revealed to the public Monday night for the intermodal transportation facility and the entertainment and sports complex proposed for the Railyards site.
Think Big Sacramento committee members presented the proposal to about 100 community members. The town hall meeting was hosted by City Councilman Rob Fong and the discussion was led by Assistant City Manager John Dangberg.
Attendees had mixed responses to the proposed facility, some questioning the economic viability and some expressing support.
Dangberg emphasized that the project would be an economic driver for the region. Fong, whose district the Railyards is in, said the plans are still in the early stages but that the Think Big Sacramento committee is fully committed to building the intermodal facility.
During his presentation, Dangberg explained that the proposed intermodal facility will be spread out, dispersed and scaled down in a grid form. Plans for the arena involve moving the location as far west as possible – close to the freeway onramp – an area, he said, that is not currently the most desirable.
The arena will also be pushed below grade, Dangberg said – normally arenas are 30 to 40 feet below grade, however, the proposed arena will be pushed even lower. With ground water and ground contamination issues, he said the proposal would have a number of preventive design challenges.
Different modes of transit will be separated by streets and sidewalks so travelers are made to walk from one location to the next – getting more people on the streets. Dangberg said they made this decision based on the advice of the Urban Land Institute to not build a major facility that would act as a barrier to the other side of the tracks.
Another benefit of spreading out the intermodal facility is that it would allow for more development between transit options, including restaurants, stores and office buildings, Dangberg said. These businesses would get a lot of foot traffic from transit users because of the site’s layout.
He added that historic buildings would not be overshadowed by large facilities.
“(This facility will be a) major driver for economic development in the city and the region,” Dangberg said.
At build-out, it is expected to bring as many as 10 millions passengers through per year – equivalent to the current number of passengers at the Sacramento International Airport, he said.
Some community members raised questions regarding the walking distance between the Westfield Downtown Plaza and the transportation sites.
Dangberg estimated the distance between Downtown Plaza to any transportation site to be roughly about 660 feet with an additional 300 feet to reach the arena.
The community members involved in the discussion showed split opinions after the presentation.
Many said they liked the concept of creating the need to walk around the city, however, at the same time, members said that a nice train station would do no good if the city is not doing well economically.
Chuck Robuck, an Auburn resident who uses transit daily, said that he likes the proposed plans for the facilities.
“I like the new concept of where they’ve opened (the intermodal facility) up in front of the arena and lowered the arena,” he said. “To me, it’s not going to be as imposing of a building and you can walk out to the view of historic buildings.”
Robuck said he is still waiting to find out what is actually going to be put into the intermodal facility in comparison to what is actually needed.
John Burton, bike advisor for Dry Creek Parkway, said that he was unhappy with the information given at the meeting.
“The meeting was a failure for me,” he said. “For the amount of time we spent sitting here, there was little information given (about the intermodal facility) so that we could have a rational discussion.”
Sacramento Metro Chamber Interim President and CEO Martha Clark Lofgren said that the Think Big Sacramento town hall provided a good opportunity for public input.
“The city has stressed the importance of the transit component including pedestrian access,” she said. “All of that will promote economic development around the arena site. That’s what we need downtown.”
Fong concluded the event by saying that the intermodal facility is the project he and Think Big Sacramento is most committed to.
“We are absolutely committed to making the intermodal work,” Fong said. “And we’re trying to see how we can make the arena work with it.”
He added that all the plans discussed are still “very conceptual.”
“The funding we have in place is great,” Fong said. “We’ve got a lot more to secure to make it happen and it really is a long-range process and so if we don’t have a lot of details, there is a reason for that.”
Fong wrapped up the discussion by letting the community know that their comments would be taken into consideration during the next steps of the planning. He also invited those interested to become “citizen architects” to share their feedback and contribute to the planning process.
To become a citizen architect or to learn more about Think Big Sacramento, visit their website.