The Wasco Downtown Rehabilitation Project is underway.
On Monday, there was a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of the project to revitalize the downtown area and enhance local culture through green spaces and public art installations. The project will include low water use landscaping, ADA-compliant pedestrian facilities, shade trees, street furniture, seating areas, waste bins, improved lighting, murals, upgrades to parking lots and rehabilitating the 7th Street Park to include a new dog park area.
The city received $5 million from the $400 million set aside for local grants within the Clean California Initiative as part of an overall $1.1 billion multiyear clean-up and beautification initiative led by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
Assistant City Manager Maria Lara said the grant is significant. "It's a $5 million investment into the downtown that we hope will attract new customers, jobs and businesses."
"We are very thankful to Caltrans for selecting us. It was very competitive, and due to the local community support, our project was ranked among the winners, and we were able to demonstrate our need and paint a clear long-term vision of how we want to see our downtown."
John Liu, deputy district director with Caltrans District 6, said, "We're just so excited to be a partner for this beautification project. The governor's goal was to invest in communities and increase pride, and we are so thankful to be able to contribute to improving the downtown area."
About the groundbreaking ceremony, he said, "It's so great to have all facets of the community to come together. It demonstrates the city's pride, and I look forward to seeing this project's completion."
The groundbreaking ceremony began construction, with work on the parking lots and alleys underway.
City Manager Scott Hurlbert looks for completion of the project early in June. "That is the target. We've had to overcome some hurdles, including having to rebid certain portions of the project," he said.
"We've also had supply chain challenges. To overcome this, the city has pre-purchased some of the materials so that delays won't impact contractors. Covid slowed us down in the beginning, but now we're on track and excited to see the finished streetscape."
He added that the $5 million grant will be enough to cover the cost of the project based on the current budget.
Councilmember Gilberto Reyna said, "The Downtown Rehabilitation and Beautification project is all set to create an extraordinary experience for everyone, with a new plaza and pavilion, dazzling lighting, comfortable seating areas, colorful art, decorated alleyways, park enhancements, outstanding landscaping and improved parking. The downtown area will soon be the epicenter of excitement, bursting with new features and amenities for all to enjoy."