Marysville’s D Street has been treated to a facelift. Beginning last July, the $950,000 project will be completed early this fall and will include new sidewalks, benches, crosswalks and brickwork to promote a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Pistachio and Ginkgo trees have been planted and the light fixtures have been replaced with historic replicas, emulating lights of Marysville’s heyday.
Most impressive of the additions will be three new arches on Third, Fourth and Sixth Streets. They will join the now famous Fifth and D Street Arch. Although the original arch resides in Rio Linda, Yetter Steel is building exact replicas to be erected.
Marysville officials and business owners are hoping to draw shoppers back downtown. Michael Berg, owner of the Country Emporium, brought a vision for D Street to the city council in 1996. After four years of planning and creative financing, the former hub of the Northstate has finally been polished.
Finances for the improvements came from Federal Transportation Funds and a Community Development Block Grant, which were matched by city funds. City Planner Dave Lamon helped with the project.
When he started two years ago, there had not been a planning and public works engineer. Lamon stepped into a situation where they were, in his words, “putting out fires as they came along. We were dealing with problems, not improvements.”
Some project money comes from city’s sales tax. Lamon cited the closure of Montgomery Wards as a drop in the city’s income, while businesses like Java Retreat and Oak Depot have migrated across the river.
Mayor Dirk Helder said, “One of Marysville’s biggest problems has been the lack of open land. It has expanded to its limits.” With no open land to be annexed and instead of fighting city blocks, multiple landowners and levees, major businesses go to Yuba City.
But Helder was optimistic. “Baseball, The Sacramento Valley Amphitheater and the upcoming motorway are bringing more people through the city. Businesses like the Silver Dollar Saloon see a marked increase in business on event nights,” said Helder.
When asked about the Marysville Hotel, Helder chuckled, “A lot of people want it out. It’s sat vacant for thirty years. We’re willing to help takers, but I’ve seen over twenty plans back out.” Apparently, the hotel is a money pit.
The city’s plan dictates the hotel cannot be demolished for at least three years. Until then, Marysville officials will continue helping buyers with the dilapidated hotel and other historic buildings.
Adding hope to Marysville’s decrepit facades are projects like the Wicks-Wurly building off of D Street. Currently on a separate grant, it is being renovated into apartments with retail units on the main floor. More residents downtown could boost local commerce.
Marysville will never be quite the same as during its golden years. In the 1970’s, its buildings housed bars, low-ball card games and restaurants. Where Mervyns is today, twenty to thirty buildings once stood.
Ron Russell of Times Passing Antiques said, “The infrastructure is gone. It’s a shame. It could have been like Old Sacramento. There were more old buildings here.”
Not every building can be saved, but organizations like the Business Improvement District (BID) make it easier to start small businesses. Business owners have taken initiative, creating a map to antique stores in the D Street area.
Marysville’s City Council recognizes the need for preservation. Marysville is becoming an experiment, learning how to balance business with the past and present.