NEWMAN - The city will focus largely on nuts-and-bolts issues in 2020, including street improvements, moving forward with a long-planned water project, and a host of planning projects to lay the groundwork for the future.

Along the way, City Manager Michael Holland told Mattos Newspapers, the city will also look to expand upon the various community-oriented programs such as the farmer’s market and Newman Together events which were introduced in 2019.

The estimated $7.5 million water project involves completion of a well and million-gallon storage tank on Jensen Road northwest of the existing city, as well as transmission lines which tie the new facilities into the citywide distribution system.

The new well has already been drilled at the city-owned site.

“We believe that we will be kicking off construction of the surface improvements in the spring,” Holland commented. “We hope to award a bid in late February or early March. We believe our financing will be complete in April, and hopefully we can start.”

The project will provide adequate water supply to Newman for the foreseeable future, ensure that peak demands (including fire flows in the event of an emergency) can be met even if one of the other major wells in the system goes out of service, and will help improve Newman’s water quality by reducing overall salinity, Holland noted.

Streets are another focal point for the city this year.

Holland said that improvements are planned to Kern Street in 2020, and improvements may begin at the intersection of Canal School and Inyo later in the year.

At the start of the year, city officials were waiting to learn whether the proposed annexation of Phase I of the Northwest Newman project had gone through.

If so, Holland said, the city will begin planning improvements to Jensen Road between Highway 33 and Fig Lane.

“The goal will be to get the water and sewer in so that we can widen Jensen Road to accommodate two travel lanes so that vehicles can safely maneuver through that stretch,” Holland commented. “There are definitely constraints out there that we have to take into account. We don’t have a final decision on how to align it. If the annexation goes through we will start planning that.”

Holland said the city hopes to provide basic infrastructure to accommodate development in the 120-acre first phase of the Northwest Newman project, which is primarily designated for job-generating commercial and business park uses. Residential components of the overall 360-acre Northwest Newman project would primarily come in future phases.

Holland said the city hopes to land grant funding to complete an infrastructure and financing plan.

The city also plans to develop a grant-funded improvement plan for the Highway 33 corridor which Holland said is expected to begin in 2020.

That plan will take a comprehensive look at Highway 33 from the county line to Stuhr Road.

“This is a long-range document so that we know what Highway 33 should look like if commercial development comes forward,” the city manager explained.

The city has received grant approval for the project but is awaiting a green light from Caltrans to proceed, he added.

That process, Holland said, will include a number of planning exercises and workshops, providing significant opportunity for public input.

Community events

A focus on community activities and events will continue in 2020, Holland told Mattos Newspapers.

“We had a good year with that, and are going to continue to try to expand our community activities. That was one of our goals in adding a community liaison,” Holland reflected. “If we can have more events in our downtown area, it is a good thing for our residents and our businesses. We want to continue to expand the services and events that we offer our residents.”