By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday allocated $450,000 to continue one of its major redevelopment projects: Street and sidewalk improvements along Highway 12 north of Sonoma.
Outgoing Supervisor Valerie Brown, who represents the area, cheered the move, saying the effort represents a “legacy project” for the county and that using general fund money to keep it alive was appropriate.
“Thank you, thank you for looking at this,” Brown told the board. “I know you all get it.”
The allocation is to pay for engineering and design work on lighting, curbs, bike lanes and other street enhancements for the busy pedestrian and vehicle corridor.
The board’s decision marked the first time the county has shifted some of its discretionary funds to support a project that was put in limbo by the state-ordered shutdown of redevelopment agencies.
Along with the Highway 12 project, several other high-profile county efforts in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa and along the Russian River were suspended.
Since that state action in February, the county has received $1.77 million in property tax receipts from the state that otherwise would have gone to projects in the three county redevelopment areas and to city redevelopment projects.
The returned money has gone into the county general fund and the board said its allocation Tuesday was a reasonable use for it. The goal is to complete engineering plans to make the Highway 12 project, estimated to cost $6.75 million, eligible for other sources of funding, including state and federal road money.
“Any time you can get a project to the point where it is shovel ready, it does elevate you to the level where you’re better positioned to receive funds,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo.
State officials have repeatedly rebuffed county requests to continue with Highway 12 work and several other projects with money previously accumulated or anticipated for redevelopment.
The county continues to press its case in negotiations and is preparing a lawsuit.
Tuesday’s hearing also addressed looking at future uses of discretionary funds to continue former redevelopment projects in Roseland and along the Russian River.
You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.