Train problems through Patterson and problems with traffic and safety vehicles between east and west Patterson are projected because of the West Park proposal for the Crows Landing air base.
Developer Gerry Kamilos has proposed three solutions. First was an overpass over the railroad tracks and Highway 33. Second was a proposal to put the tracks under Las Palmas Avenue. His latest concept was offered May 12 to the Patterson City Council as members prepared to file a lawsuit. In this plan, Las Palmas is trenched under the train tracks, meeting Highway 33 in its trench.
Which plan will he present next?
The West Park track proposal surfaced in late 2006, when I heard Kamilos planned to put an overpass over Highway 33 and the railroad tracks where east and west Las Palmas meet. That plan proposed a ramp between Patterson's two historic downtown parks, the center of our Apricot Fiesta events. A ramp started at the historic downtown circle in front of our museum. Many were shocked at the implications of such a proposal and its estimated $40 million cost.
For people familiar with Modesto, envision something the size of the Needham-Kansas overcrossing plunked down between Patterson's two downtown parks.
Apparently Kamilos understood Patterson wasn't going to welcome an overpass, so he proposed the trenched railroad -- similar to those in Reno and Southern California -- through parts of Patterson. But would a 33-foot deep trench work under Las Palmas Avenue? This would be the least disruptive to the historic downtown, but at what cost? Has Kamilos heard about the potential soil pollution from an old oil pipeline in the trench area? And what about the flooding that occurs downtown in wet years?
Now Kamilos is back with another plan. This one shows Las Palmas going under the railroad, meeting Highway 33 in a trench and then coming up between the two historic downtown parks. Is such a design feasible? I'm skeptical. Further, it still divides our two historic parks, mows down a bunch of landmark trees between the parks, reduces the sizes of both parks and forces relocation of several historic monuments.
A large number of Pattersonites are unwilling to see our downtown changed just so Kamilos can have his intermodal facility at the Crows Landing base. He can reconfigure his highway and track plans all he wants. It isn't going to sway those of us opposed to his excessive land grab or his misplaced intermodal train facility.
There is no reason for West Side county residents to accept his proposal or for the Patterson City Council to reconsider its lawsuit just because Kamilos has a new design for Las Palmas.
Delphia, a community columnist, is active in Patterson issues and is vice president of WS-PACE.org, which opposes West Park.