farmers market, 9/26/13

Shoppers pick up their produce at the Fairfield farmers market, Thurdsay evening. The farmers market has taken place on the county-owned lawn at the corner of Jefferson and Texas streets this year. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Solano County

County explores options for 7 properties

By From page A1 | April 10, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Solano County will explore what to do with seven properties it no longer uses or will soon no longer use, including key sites in and near downtown Fairfield.

Some are vacant lots, some are lots with buildings. Possibilities range from finding another county use for them to leasing them out to selling them.

“We will be looking at a range of options,” county Architect Kanon Artiche said.

The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to have county staff devise a plan for the properties. It considered the issue as part of adopting a five-year county capital facilities plan.

Two properties are at the eastern gateway to Fairfield’s downtown.

One is the former county Hall of Records building at 701 Texas St. This plain, block-like building is empty. The county recently had soil containing gasoline removed from beneath the building by cutting out the interior concrete slab. An auto service store sold gasoline at the site decades ago, leaving behind the pollution.

The other downtown gateway site is the sprawling lawn at Jefferson and Texas streets. The Fairfield farmers market takes place there. Solano County a few years ago tore down the courthouse annex building that stood on the 1.9-acre site and greatly enlarged the lawn.

Another Fairfield site is the old Armijo gymnasium at 501 Texas St. It houses the county Agricultural Department and University of California Cooperative Extension. But the county is to move these uses to a building it owns at 2543 Cordelia Road in 2015.

Artiche said the courts have looked to expand. But whether the courts would want the old gymnasium or the vacant lot next to the old courthouse is unclear.

Finally, there is the vacant 1-acre lot on Broadway Street near the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. substation. This is within Fairfield’s downtown priority development area targeted for more homes and businesses in coming decades.

The lone Vacaville site at 600 Merchant St. has a building that got constructed in 1930 as St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The county District Attorney’s Office several years ago used it for its Rainbow Center program. Renovating the building so the county could reuse it would cost several hundred thousand dollars, the county concluded.

Solano County last year declared this as surplus property and put it up for sale. That raised concern among community members, given the building’s history. In October 2013, the county delayed taking action so Supervisors John Vasquez and Skip Thomson could do more research and community outreach.

Artiche said the county will consult with the jurisdictions where the various properties are located before coming up with recommendations for the sites.

The supervisors’ decision to explore options for the seven properties was part of a larger decision made by the board Tuesday.

Supervisors updated a five-year capital facilities improvement plan that calls for $177 million in building and maintenance projects. Solano County has $91.3 million available, leaving a shortfall of $88.6 million.

Such shortfalls are common for the five-year capital facilities plan. The board updated the plan in 2013 with $201 million in spending and a $106 million shortfall.

This year’s update adds 18 projects, even as other projects get completed. They include creating a land use plan for the Health and Social Services complex along Beck Avenue in Fairfield, replacing an Office of Emergency Services generator at 530 Clay St. in Fairfield and improving the lobby at the Vallejo Health and Social Services building.

The capital facilities plan doesn’t include transportation projects, Nut Tree Airport projects or projects at the county fairgrounds in Vallejo.

“Adoption of the plan does not commit the board to funding particular projects,” Artiche said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Seven properties the county could sell, lease or reuse

  • Dixon corporation yard at 580 N. First St., Dixon.
  • Hall of Records, 701 Texas St., Fairfield.
  • Vacant land on Broadway Street near PG&E substation, Fairfield.
  • Vacant land near old courthouse, Fairfield.
  • Agricultural-UC Cooperative Extension building, 501 Texas St., Fairfield.
  • Former Rainbow Center, 600 Merchant St., Vacaville.
  • Weights and Measure warehouse, 560 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo.
Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 6 comments

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  • my2centsApril 10, 2014 - 5:37 am

    The County should leave the land adjacent to the old courthouse just the way it is. A beautiful GREEN space that lends itself to a wide variety of community based uses, most notably as a downtown park which Fairfield desperately needs. I get a great sense of joy and pride watching Fairfield children play in the government center's water feature in the summer. The green space gives me the same feeling when I see it used as a community gathering area. It should be more utilized for art fairs, concerts on the lawn and summer theater outdoors. It's sad that Fairfield panders mostly to citizens who want bounce houses and fried donuts and does little with the green space to provide community produced cultural events that appeal to a wider variety of tastes. Instead Fairfield residents travel to other cities and spend their money elsewhere for cultural events.

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  • Mr. PracticalApril 10, 2014 - 5:53 am

    m2c, I agree with you on that. The County should turn the land adjacent to the old courthouse over to the City of Fairfield. Besides the Farmers Market, I'm sure we could come up with a lot of creative uses. As far as the city pandering to citizens who want bounce houses and fried donuts, the question for you is... is it life imitating art or art imitating life?

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  • Suisun1April 10, 2014 - 8:25 am

    leave the green lawn alone. it's a wonderful place for the farmer's market (which should be expanded given the lack of fresh produce around the downtown Fairfield area) and really should be activated to bring more of the community together. i already like that it's a nice patch of green to sit or relax on during those festivals that take place during the summer months.

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  • ?April 10, 2014 - 12:09 pm

    I want A Giant outdoor Mirror Disco Ball with lasers, a stage with a good sound system and Peach Pie and Cheesecake

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  • LoveMyCommunityApril 10, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    I completely agree. I've been to many community events there and love sitting on the green lawn in the sunshine. so relaxing.

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  • Margaret ManzoApril 10, 2014 - 1:26 pm

    What community members may not know is that other than a generous use agreement for both the Tomato Festival and Farmers Market, there is a fee to use the county green area. I agree that the space should remain open if at all possible and would certainly welcome additional activities in downtown. Folks just need to plan on budgeting $65 an hour for the use. And that includes set up and tear down time. We are working on movie nights and other activities but the cost is certainly a hindrance!

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