County Working on Master Plan for Downtown Martinez
May 01, 2016 12:20PM ● Published by Jennifer Neys
The “Old Jail”, built in early 1900s,
Costa County Public Works Director Julie Bueren spoke to city council on
April 6 regarding plans to demolish the properties at 1127 and 1139 Escobar
Street. The houses have been vacant since 2011. The two parcels will be converted
into parking lots that will serve both the city and county. She said, “In the
long-term, they would be part of our land portfolio that would help us do some
master planning down here that would look at perhaps a new county
administration building with new board chambers serving the needs of county employees
and Downtown Martinez. Potentially, also a parking ramp or parking garage that
would help with some of the parking pressures in downtown for county employees,
city as well as the courts.” Bueren also said the county is looking at the
possibility of either renovating 651 Pine Street, the current county administration
building, or looking at something completely different since it has a $22
million deferred maintenance bill. “We question whether it makes sense to
invest money into rehabilitating that building or whether it makes more sense
to do something completely different,” continued Bueren.
In addition, the county is looking into demolishing the old county jails (651 Pine), built in 1902 and in 1940 and located behind the finance building (currently in the process of rehabilitation). Demolishing the jails could make room for a future administration complex. Mayor Schroder questioned whether there will still be a county seat presence in the county’s planning in the future and what the new center would house. “I have not heard the county administrator or the board members talk about an interest in moving out of Martinez completely. The desire will be to work with the city in partnership to develop a plan,” stated Bueren.
Both Mayor Schroder and Councilmember Farias expressed concern over the old jail and mentioned the potential preservation of the building. “We really need to have some dialogue around alternatives to the demolition of a historic building in our downtown,” said Farias. Bueren explained it was in the way of building a new center and would be difficult to renovate, although the county does recognize it’s historical significance. “We would take the steps to document its history and we would take the steps to salvage some of the important structural elements, particularly the granite blocks, and incorporate those into the new center, but that’s to be determined,” she added. Councilmember Mark Ross expressed that he would like the council to be on friendly terms with the partnership and be included on any decision-making going forward.