Cotati's plan for Old Redwood Highway through town, which last year had advanced to City Council approval phase, was sent back to the woodshed with the results of the November 2012 election.
Then in November balloting, Measure U to ban the use of roundabouts as a traffic solution edged out a victory. The Old Red project, as it was known, included two roundabouts, and the success of Measure U was believed to cost the city at least $1.1 million in federal grant funds.
Cotati City Manager Diane Thompson said following the election, "The City needs to use at least a portion of the federal grant funds received in order to prevent disqualification from future grant funding. We are looking at the possibility of a smaller gateway project instead of the Village Mainstreet Project approved by the City Council."
That "smaller gateway project" is the one now being explored by city engineer and public works director Damien O'Bid. He and his staff are working on a redesign of the intersection of 116 and Old Redwood Highway, in an attempt to retain that $1.1 million grant.
Oliver's Markets had expressed interest in moving their Cotati store to that location, but in October 2012 decided against it, in part because of uncertainty over redevelopment plans.
"Since November we've been scrambling not to lose the CalTrans grant money," said O'Bid in a phone interview today. "We're looking for ways to benefit the community, but fit into the grant 'box' on an extremely short time frame."
The $1.1 million Federal CMAQ grant had an application deadline of February 1, and O'Bid confirmed that they had "got in all the related paperwork" in time. Now however they need to finalize the design and open it for public review. Funds would be issued through CalTrans, O'Bid said.
The project is mainly aesthetic, to improve the appeal and quality of the intersection, as there are no funds for actual pavement construction in the grant.
O'Bid anticipates that planning will continue on the gateway project for the next few weeks, but is confident sometime this spring it will be revealed to the public. "Once we have all the details to show, we'll share it. We'll having something ready for a public meeting sometime in May."
It may seem like a roundabout way to go to get downtown improvements in Cotati, but that's how democracy works.