San Juan Capistrano tasks a design firm with refining upgrade plans near train depot – Orange County Register

Ice-cream eating visitors stroll the sidewalk along San Juan Capistrano’s Verdugo Street, where the city is proposing pedestrian-friendly upgrades. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A long-delayed plan hatched by San Juan Capistrano in 2007 to create a more pedestrian-friendly ambiance around the mission city’s historic train depot is back on track.

Over the next few months, a design firm hired by the city will revisit two alternative concepts, will consult with the business community and will produce cost estimates.

The city council expects to select a design in February for the $1.94 million street renovation, which aims to improve safety and aesthetics along Verdugo Street.

On a 3-2 vote Sept. 19, the city council approved an $81,440 contract with RRM Design Group to do the work. It fits within the project’s approved $1.94 million budget, officials said.

RRM will work with a plan the city council selected in 2007 and with a modified plan that the city prepared in 2014. The project was shelved during the nation’s economic downturn and was shelved again when it didn’t receive a high score in a city council priority-setting session in 2016.

The city council decided to bring it back in August, but there was disagreement over whether to consider two concepts or just the original one conceived in 2007.

The vote to evaluate both concepts was 3-2, with Mayor Kerry Ferguson and Councilwoman Pam Patterson dissenting. The council had received a letter from Mechelle Lawrence Adams, executive director at Mission San Juan Capistrano, urging against “over-analyzing.”

The letter called on the city to just go with the 2007 concept and to order working drawings for it. The letter listed eight business and property owners that Lawrence Adams said concurred with the letter.

Ferguson said the council should follow the recommendations of business owners. “This was approved in 2007,” she said. “They’ve been waiting 10 years.”

Councilman Derek Reeve said he didn’t believe everyone whose name was attached to the letter agrees with it and felt the council can look at both options without undue delay.

“We’re going to move forward,” he said. “This isn’t going to stop again. We’re going to keep going until it’s done.”

As part of the design contract, RRM will look at carrying the Verdugo Street improvements over to the other side of the tracks onto Los Rios Street to provide a uniform look and an improved walking…

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