Town improvement ideas highlight Jacob’s Revitalization meeting
By Karen Brainard
Ideas for additional services and recreational opportunities for residents and for economic development were part of the conversation at County Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s biannual Ramona Community Revitalization Steering Committee meeting on Oct. 16.
Held in the community room of the Ramona Library, the meeting drew about 30 people. Jacob facilitates the meeting and hears reports from subcommittees: parks and recreation, economic development, health and human services, infrastructure and transportation, and public safety and law enforcement.
Jack Rogers, project chairperson of the Ramona Intergenerational Community Campus (RICC) subcommittee, reported that a meeting was recently held at Jacob’s office about the RICC and discussion included developing a gymnasium for the site. The RICC is proposed to be built on Main Street, between 12th and 13th streets, with the library serving as an anchor. Other buildings proposed for the RICC include a senior center, community resource center, daycare, and a recreational center.
Rogers said sports groups and school sports teams in the community need more places to practice. The RICC subcommittee has been working with the YMCA and the Parks and Recreation Department on the gym, but no group is stepping up to offer to operate and maintain a community gymnasium, he said.
Tom Fincher, with the county’s General Services department, said the meeting at Jacob’s office was productive and the next step is for the community to decide how the gym development should be approached, who could be involved and determine the financial base.
Fincher also noted that Caltrans has an operations yard on Main Street, adjacent to the proposed RICC site. The county would like to add that land to the RICC site and has been attempting to swap property with Caltrans.
“We have encountered a bureaucracy to end all bureaucracies,” said Fincher. “The process for changing a site in kind is very difficult.”
Fincher said he will continue to meet with Caltrans about a land swap.
“A year ago I thought we were on a positive track. I don’t know what in Caltrans changed, but it just became too difficult and they weren’t interested,” he said.
With the RICC campus proposed to extend to the Santa Maria Creek, Arvie Degenfelder, RICC subcommittee chair, suggested getting groups to clear out the creek area. That section of the creek, between 12th and 13th streets, could be developed as part of the proposed Santa Maria Creek Greenway, said Degenfelder. A bridge is to be constructed on 13th Street over the creek.
Jacob told committee members that the board of supervisors has approved lowering the transportation impact fees (TIF) that impacted commercial development.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll see some uptick in the economy,” she said, adding that the state government also needs to make some changes. “Certainly from a county standpoint this should help.”
Carol Fowler, chair of the economic development subcommittee and vice chair of the Ramona Village Design Group, reported that the design group is finalizing the design document to revitalize the downtown area and create design standards. She said the village design group will hold a joint meeting with the Ramona Community Planning Group and Ramona Design Review Board to discuss the plan.
Fowler said one idea is to approach Caltrans about allowing a Ramona welcome sign over Main Street.
“That could further enhance the charm of Ramona,” she said.
Fowler also said Ramona wineries are bringing more tourism into town and noted the lack of lodging. A Farm Stay ordinance is being investigated, she said, that could possibly allow lodging on working farms.
Although she suggested the creation of an economic development agency to attract tourist-related businesses to Ramona, Jacob said the board of supervisors will not create another agency.
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