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Digging into Streetscape

Sutter Street about to undergo major changes
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Despite damp and chilly Folsom weather, more than 100 residents turned out for Saturday’s groundbreaking of the historic district’s $8.4 million revitalization effort, dubbed Streetscape. At the corner of Wool and Sutter streets, Sutter Street Theatre players kept the crowd entertained with music while Karen Holmes, of Karen’s Bakery, supplied cookies, hot cocoa and coffee. Snook’s Candies handed out silver and gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins, stamped with the historic district’s logo to commemorate the event. Children sported yellow plastic hardhats emblazoned with the district’s revitalization logo. “Even clouds can’t remove the sunshine we feel today,” said City Manager Kerry Miller. “Today is the next step in what is truly a labor of love.” Folsom Mayor Jeff Starsky said Sutter Street’s redevelopment was crucial for economic survival and prosperity. “It’s a very historic day,” Starsky said. “Imagine yourself on this street in the 1850s. Some would argue this street was the heart of the economy in California (at the time) … because of the Gold Rush.” He noted Sutter Street was once one leg of the old Lincoln Highway system. “For a century, these merchants have been a powerhouse in this city,” he said. “It’s time to reinvest here. We’re going to take this back to the 1880s. We’re going to take the historic district back to its historic roots.” Starsky said the project is expected to last nine months, causing traffic and parking problems, but he encouraged residents to visit the historic district anyway. “(It) will be an inconvenience,” Starsky said. “Folsom Live, Thursday Night Market (and) craft fairs will go on. There will be a lot of activity down here. We need to support the merchants.” Vice Mayor Andy Morin said infrastructure improvements will be done at the same time as the redevelopment. “This is really a special moment,” Morin said. “There are a lot of old sewer and water lines that need to be replaced.” City Councilwoman Kerri Howell also encouraged residents to come to the historic district to shop and dine. “I’m hoping we don’t do this in another 50 years,” she said, referring to the previous Sutter Street revitalization efforts. Candy Miller, chairperson of the Historic District Commission, said Jeff Ferreira-Pro was instrumental in getting public attitudes to turn around on the project. “Without his leadership and patience, we wouldn’t be here today,” she said. She said the revitalization efforts are necessary, much like they were the last time the street was renovated. “Fifty years ago, Sutter Street became the Gaslight Mall and helped keep the district alive,” she said. “The project we are starting today will have the same effect.” Jim Snook, of Snook’s Candies, serves as president of the Historic District Merchants Association. “I look forward to bringing the district together,” he said. “We want to preserve the past and honor the future. We will be doing all our events throughout this process.” Starsky pointed out one of Folsom’s early families who showed up for the ceremony. “The Fong family was born here on Sutter Street in the 1930s and they came out for this,” he said. The project will remove Sutter Street’s median, make sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, move Wool Street utilities underground, beautify parking areas and add some on-street parking. Major construction is expected to be completed in the fall.