Woodlake reviews major city updates

City Administrator Ramon Lara (left) gives updates on city projects. Woodlake Police Chief Mike Marquez is also pictured (right).(Kenny Goodman)

Woodlake City Council takes a look at improvements to housing, parks and infrastructure coming to the city in the near future

WOODLAKE – At its latest city council meeting, the city gave a sneak peak into some upcoming projects that are looking to make improvements upon the community in the coming year.

The city gave an update on some major projects underway in the city at its council meeting on Oct. 23. The meeting focused mainly on city housing developments, parks and recreation, and infrastructure as a way to inform the public on what construction projects they can expect in the approaching year.

One of the main focuses of the meeting was two of the three major housing developments the city has in the works. Once the housing developments are done, Woodlake will have 233 new single-family homes. Both developments discussed at the meeting will include the construction of new parks, which will make for a total of 10 parks in the community.

The biggest housing development the city is working on is Greenwood, which has 133 single-family homes. According to City Manager Ramon Lara, they are now starting to build homes at Greenwood as well as complete other public improvements like curbs, gutters, sidewalks, streets and parks. There is no estimate as to the price of the homes as of yet; however, the homes will be single-story and two-story homes with three to five bedrooms.

“Playground two is under construction. That should be done by the end of the calendar year,” Lara said.

The city had it written into their agreement with the project’s developer that Greenwood would have a one-acre park built along with the housing development for residents to enjoy. The city will also add two arbors to each park located in Woodlake so far.

“This will be our first park south of Naranjo Boulevard,” Lara said. “The city will maintain and operate the park and the landscaping strips.”

The Hillside estate is the other main housing development that was touched upon at the meeting. According to the city report, around 50% of the development is already finished. The development of Hillside also includes the construction of a two-acre park, which will also include the two arbors as well as two playgrounds.

Another main project reviewed at the meeting was the development of the new storm drain on Valencia Boulevard and Bravo Avenue. The city currently has the parts of the street that are under development blocked off, which started on Oct. 16 and is expected to continue until Nov. 3.

According to Lara, the lake near the storm drain has been at capacity. The excess water has created more potholes in the area that get in the way of the new storm drain. To fix this, the city has been working with Wutchumna Water Company to lower the water level of the lake.

“This won’t fix all our problems, but it will help us,” Lara said. “So with the lake going down, when we finally get our permits, we will be able to now continue to work on this line.”

Lara went on to explain that the city will continue working on the storm drain that does not have a slurry seal (which is a protective seal that goes over pavement) but that eventually the whole line must be sealed, which could cost somewhere between $500,000 to $1 million.

The project has had many setbacks since the city first received the grant in 2018. After jumping over the legal and environmental hurdles to start the project, the construction had to be put back again due to the record storms and flooding earlier this year. Now, the city is finally able to make significant progress on the new storm drain.

An ongoing project the city continues to work on is the Antelope Creek storm basin, which is being constructed to protect the city from future flooding. The council has worked toward mitigating any future flooding by developing a stormwater basin in Antelope Valley. This is a type of detention pond that temporarily stores stormwater runoff. According to Lara, the project is estimated to cost $8-$12 million dollars and will be completely grant-funded over a period of years.

To address the overall issue, the council has had monthly meetings with Tulare County Resource Grants Agency staff and consistent contact with FEMA to make as much of an impact as possible, according to Lara. He said these meetings will continue until the change that is needed is complete.

The city is also continuing to prepare for increased snowmelt runoff by coordinating with neighboring stakeholders such as the County of Tulare, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and irrigation districts, as well as Congressman Costa and Senator Hurtado’s offices. They also increased the cleaning of creeks and ditches as well as maintenance and repair of all equipment such as storm pumps and lift stations.

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