GUSTINE - The coming year will be one of continued progress in Gustine as a number of projects, some of which have been on the books for years, come to fruition in calendar year 2020, City Manager Doug Dunford anticipates.

Dunford said the city began to see long-standing projects completed in 2019, when fencing and drainage improvements were made at the municipal airport, a North Avenue sewer line was installed and a crosswalk was added to enhance pedestrian safety at Gustine Elementary School.

But those improvements, Dunford said, mark only the beginning for the city, as roundabouts, walking paths and more are expected to move forward during the coming year.

In addition, Dunford told Mattos Newspapers, the city will continue its efforts to bring in a grocery store and hopefully see residential development begin in the Southeast Gustine annexation area.

“Some of these projects have been in existence for quite some time. We are at a point where we are building momentum, so let’s keep it moving forward,” Dunford stated.

Planned projects

Dunford said the city has the foundation in place to move forward with a pathway which will encircle Schmidt Park and at least the initial phase of an extension of the pathway along Meredith Avenue from the park to West Avenue. That work will be done in 2020, Dunford said. The city is still waiting on funding approval to a second phase of the Meredith Avenue extension, which would go from West Avenue to Grove, but hopes to complete that phase as well in the coming year.

Roundabouts are also on the city’s radar.

Dunford said he anticipates that a planned downtown roundabout and a larger roundabout where Highway 33/140 turns in front of Richard’s Market will each go out to bid this year and break ground in January 2021.

The city also plans to complete a sidewalk renovation along the Green Acres Mobile Home Park this year, Dunford said.

In the works

Even as the city approaches the finish line on several projects, more are in the works.

Dunford said upgrading the city’s aging infrastructure is a growing priority.

He said the city is looking into funding opportunities through the USDA - with a focus on pursuing grant money - to upgrade a water system which has been plagued by leaks in recent years.

“The other week we went in to patch (a water line) at Linden and Highway 33. We replaced a section, and then the next section broke. There are chunks of pipe that are just falling (apart),” Dunford said.

The city’s infrastructure has reached a point where the deficiencies must be addressed, he emphasized.

He said the city also hopes to begin preliminary engineering in 2020 to install traffic signals at the northern intersection of Highways 33 and 140.

“We have talked to Caltrans about a roundabout, but they said it is too close to the tracks and to Pusateri Nut,” Dunford explained. “We are looking at a signal there to alleviate some of the backup during high traffic volume. We’re looking at possibly having that go out to bid in 2023.”

Dunford said the city is also awaiting word on grant applications to upgrade Pioneer and Henry Miller parks, and to upgrade tennis courts in Schmidt Park.

The city is also looking into options for enhancing internet service in the community and possibly establishing a local network serving the business district.

“That is a necessity that we need to bring in,” Dunford said of the technology upgrade.

Residential, commercial development

Dunford said the city would also like to usher in residential growth.

He told Mattos Newspapers that conceptual interest has been shown in a residential development north of Sullivan Road which would involve single family homes with a higher density.

“It is conceptual at this point. We are in talks,” Dunford noted.

And, he added, the city continues its quest to bring a grocery store to Gustine and has had conversations with a firm that has expressed interest.

The city, he emphasized, “is trying to get houses built and bring in a grocery store and other businesses. I think that we are on a path to make that happen in 2020. I think that there are some exciting things that are going to happen.”