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State grant brings new life to beautification plan
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A dusty Golden State Boulevard median will soon be landscaped as the first phase of a plan to beautify Turlock, thanks to a new state grant.

The City of Turlock will receive a $796,000 California Transportation Commission grant to fund the landscaping of a .7 mile stretch of Golden State Boulevard median between Monte Vista Avenue and Christoffersen Parkway.

The median landscaping is just the first step in Turlock's Beautification Master Plan, which lays out landscaping plans for Golden State Boulevard from Fulkerth Road to Taylor Road and the interchange between Highway 99 and Monte Vista Avenue, as well as a wayfinding sign program,.

“(The grant) won't do all of everything,” Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden said, “but it will take care of that section which is pretty barren right now.”

The City of Turlock spent $82,619 to draft the Beautification Plan, after hiring Danville-based landscape architects Gates and Associates in 2009.

But the plan was almost scrapped unfinished in August 2010 after a $78,825 expenditure, when a 3-2 majority of the Turlock City Council – then-members Kurt Spycher and Ted Howze, as well as current Councilwoman Amy Bublak – voted against expending an already budgeted $3,794 to complete the plan. In addition to that cost, the council members balked at estimated maintenance costs which exceeded $72,000 per year.

But in July 2011, a 3-2 majority of the Turlock City Council – with Bublak and then-new member Bill DeHart in opposition – voted to resume work on the beautification plan.

According to Wasden, the plan has been altered from its original vision to source lower-maintenance trees and plants, as well as vegetation which require less watering.

Completing the Beautification Plan allowed Turlock to apply for the state grant, Wasden said, and will allow Turlock to continue to seek grants to implement the entire beautification plan in coming years.

“Our intent is to continue to apply for new grants,” Wasden said.