A few years ago, city leaders worried that streets, parks and storm drains in northeast Modesto's Village I subdivisions would never be built.
Monday night, the City Hall conversation about Village I shifted to a happier note. The question isn't whether these projects will occur; it's when.
The City Council is about to reprioritize its to-do list in Village I because some projects are coming in under budget and ahead of schedule.
The city can't remove projects from the list of promised infrastructure, but it can move some to the bottom of the list, making them less likely to be completed.
Earlier this decade, Modesto leaders thought some infrastructure at Village I would never be built because the city failed to collect enough fees from developers to cover the construction costs.
Those concerns led to a moratorium on construction there in 2002. The city raised developer fees to try to plug what was then estimated to be a $25.8 million shortfall.
Times have changed. Construction and land prices have plummeted with the economic downturn, allowing the city to plow through many -- but not all -- of Village I's roads and drains.
Economic and Community Development Director Brent Sinclair told three City Council members that he'd like them to review the remaining projects.
"Now is the time to get aggressive on completing projects," Sinclair told council members Dave Geer, Brad Hawn and Kristin Olsen, who sit on the city's Economic Development Committee.
Sinclair said the city could apply for federal funding or grants for some of the projects, giving the city more financial leeway to lay asphalt and build parks.
Council members agreed to revisit Village I priorities when they consider a citywide list of capital improvement projects later this year.
Sinclair presented council members with a history of Village I because the public often brings it up as a reason to delay development, he said.
"Some people think it's a disaster area; some people think it's the aftermath of a holocaust; some people think it's the most terrible thing that ever happened," Sinclair said.
Sinclair disputed that idea Monday night, calling Village I a "success story." He called on city leaders to use Village I as a lesson, but not an excuse to stall growth. "Let's make sure we understand what happened, and what happened factually, and not be fearful of monsters out there."
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2378. Follow her at Twitter.com/ BeeReporter.