A group of urban planners and architects will descend upon Rio Vista over four days next month to examine the Delta hamlet's resources and challenges and provide growth, planning, transportation and economic development guidance for the future.
The upcoming visit makes Rio Vista the first East Bay city to receive help from the American Institute of Architect's Communities by Design program based in Washington, D.C. As one of a few cities nationwide selected for the Regional Urban Design Assistance Team project this year, Rio Vista will host the team of land use experts, transportation planners, urban designers, planning directors, historic preservationists, architects and economic development resources from Feb. 27 to March 3.
"We would like to see Highway 12 upgraded. Our waterfront needs development, and our downtown needs revitalization. They will put together an achievable project for Rio Vista," said MaryEllen Lamothe, RioVision Steering Committee member. "It benefits everybody. There is no place to go but up and forward. It has been stagnant for awhile."
Since community input is an integral part of the process and this is a grass-roots effort, Rio Vista residents are encouraged to attend a Feb. 28 town hall meeting at 6 p.m. in the D.H. White School auditorium. Residents will be asked for their honest feedback on the future development of their community, according to RioVision Steering Committee leader Dave Falk.
"Members of the community who haven't been involved in the past are getting involved," he said. "We need a broad range of citizens to give input on what should be done."
Lamothe noted that the visit costs between $35,000 and $40,000 for the team's trip expenses, but the community has been supportive with the donation of meals and lodging for the team members. All of the team members are working pro-bono on this intensive study.
"The community has really rallied around it," Lamothe said. "So many people are so supportive."
The team of planners and architects will focus its efforts on the primary concerns of Rio Vista and work in a downtown work space. Architectural students from Sacramento's Cosumnes River College will help by producing detailed plans of the project findings.
"It is not going to require a lot of city resources. It is going to use a lot of community resources," Falk said. "There is a follow-up plan, and they come back and monitor us in the next year. They aren't just going to do this and walk away as planners. They are going to help implement it and be part of the solution."
Falk added that some of the suggested changes may take place in a few years, while others may take more than 20 years to come to fruition. Funding sources will be identified and could include federal grants and redevelopment funding.
In the past, the steering committee visited communities like Healdsburg, where the process was completed about 20 years ago. It was those results that convinced them that the intensive study could help Rio Vista.
"They (Healdsburg leaders) were able to walk us through what actually happened and the difference in how Healdsburg was and how it is today," Falk said. "They (R/UDAT) come from a national organization, and they have done this in other cities and been successful."
Contact Paula King at 925-779-7174.