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Ripon abandons town square park plans for land at Second & Stockton
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RIPON – About two years ago, elected officials favored a plan to construct a town square park at the corner of Second Street and Stockton Avenue.

The park was to serve as a great entrance from the Main Street off-ramp from Highway 99 into Ripon, recalled Councilman Chuck Winn at Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting.

“Times have changed,” he said.

Winn and colleagues no longer favored the plan for a park. In order to do so, they also opted not to rezone the property, from C3 (Central Business District) to PS (Public-Semipublic).

Council voted 5-0 against re-zoning.

Garry Krebbs hopes that whoever purchases the land once owned by the city will match the existing downtown buildings.

He’s against another gas station on that site.

Some time ago, this land was purchased by the city’s now-defunct Redevelopment Agency. A successor agency, in accordance with Assembly Bill X126, was given the task of disposing of the former RDA assets and properties as directed by an oversight committee.

 The initial plan was for the city to work with a developer in constructing mixed-use commercial / affordable housing at that corner.

“Due to financial constraints, that project never came to fruition and the buildings and structures (on those parcels) were demolished,” said Ken Zuidervaart, who is the city’s planning director.

Council, in April 2010, agreed on developing the town square plan. Included was using and soliciting donations and volunteer labor to help in the construction.

“I thought (at the time) it was best use for the area,” Winn said.

Those plans were shelved once it was discovered that there were contamination issues from old underground fuel tanks. Zuidervaart said the site was once a gas station.

RDA was eliminated by the time the clean up was completed.

The city, in order to maintain this property, would have to buy it back at fair market value.

Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt hopes the land will attract a buyer, in particular, a new downtown business.

“This is prime commercial property,” he said. “The infrastructure is in place.”