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Hartz Avenue construction set for next year

Town's beautification effort is one of three projects due on the thoroughfare in 2014

The town's multimillion-dollar effort to enhance a rundown section of Hartz Avenue is set to get under way midway through next year.

"We are excited," Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich said during a staff presentation to the Town Council Tuesday evening at the Town Meeting Hall. "That's the part of town that just hasn't really looked like Danville."

With its North Hartz Avenue Beautification Project, the town aims to add new sidewalks, public parking, storm drainage, trees, street lights, brick bands and embellished crosswalks between Diablo Road and Railroad Avenue.

But that's only a portion of the construction slated to occur along the same section of the downtown thoroughfare next year.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District and PG&E are also set to break ground on projects there in early 2014.

"We anticipate this project to be quite an adventure for us, and hopefully we can keep everybody on board as we move through all the various stages of construction," Danville Development Services Director Steve Lake told the council.

EBMUD is set to begin water-main replacement in January -- a project precipitated by the Fourth of July rupture downtown. Those workers should be done on that section of Hartz Avenue by March, Lake said.

PG&E is scheduled to run underground utilities through the project area starting in February, with substantial completion expected by May, according to Lake. AT&T and Comcast will also do some work as part of the PG&E project.

If the two outside agencies complete their tasks as scheduled, Danville's contractor -- bids are expected to open in March -- should begin the beautification project in June, according to Lake. Town officials anticipate an October completion date.

Construction costs for the beautification project are estimated at $1.6 million. The town's overall price tag will include nearly $3.4 million already spent on right-of-way acquisition.

In other business, the council adopted a resolution accepting the town's audited comprehensive annual financial report for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

"The town is financially very stable. It is well-managed and well-governed. That's outstanding," town auditor Gary Caporicci, of the firm Pun & McGeady, told the council.

Danville's revenues were higher than expected in 2012-13, and the expenditures of every department came in under budget. The town had an operating reserve of about 41 percent coming out of last fiscal year.

As part of the resolution, council members designated roughly $2 million in general fund money that was unreserved at the end of 2012-13, with $1 million going to the park facilities fund, nearly $565,000 to the capital improvement project fund and $500,000 to the technology fund.

Later, the council reappointed Stewart Proctor to the Iron Horse Corridor Management Program Advisory Committee. His next two-year term begins in January.

Following the adjournment of the town council meeting, the members spent about half an hour convening as the Danville Disaster Council for its biannual meeting.

Emergency Services Manager Jeff Hebel highlighted emergency-related activities from the past six months, including the Independence Day water-main break, the creation of an informational video on residential-care homes and an active-shooter training Aug. 8 at Charlotte Wood Middle School.

He also touched on upcoming programs, such as continuing Community Emergency Response Team trainings, releasing the residential-care video and readying for the Disaster Preparedness Fair.

The council and town officials experienced an unexpected situation of their own Tuesday night when water drops began falling from the Town Meeting Hall ceiling several feet from the dais. Staff used a pair of plastic storage containers to catch the leaking rainwater.

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