I was sitting in the parking lot at the Amador Ridge center in Martell the other day, keeping the dog company while Pete picked up some groceries. It's a busy, growing place, Amador Ridge. It's also totally designed for commerce and cars.
There are sidewalks in front of the shops. But if you want to walk out to your car, or from shops out to the main drag that leads to Highway 49, you have to walk in the traffic, in the gutter or on the grass. It's anything but pedestrian friendly -- which is a real shame because things are located so close to one another that it should be easy to walk. A few sidewalks could have made a real difference.
Sitting in the truck, I was saddened by the missed opportunities there in Martell. The county could have insisted on mixed-use development at the former mill site, including housing above the shops. Imagine -- people could have walked to work!
There could have been a park in the SW corner of the property. Sidewalks. Walking and bike trails throughout the property and connecting to Jackson and Sutter Creek.
But we don't have any of that.
Why wasn't it done? Hard to say. Some of us tried. Representatives of Foothill Conservancy and the Amador Economic Development Corporation met and discussed the potential for a real, planned development on the former mill site. It was a most positive meeting -- lots of good ideas, and so much potential. But the county, and the developers, mainly wanted retail at Martell, with some other "light commercial." It was all about money, especially sales tax.
So look at what we do have -- retail that should be in our cities, now in the county. Increased traffic on Highway 49. Major county offices that were in Jackson, now moved to Martell (guess where those folks will shop now?). Meanwhile, our towns are struggling to survive, falling prey to subdivision developers that dangle the promise of taxes and other shiny bling while hoping to blind the city fathers and mothers to the resulting traffic gridlock and other impacts on local quality of life.
Planning matters. Not planning well has consequences. You only have to look at Martell to see why.
Surely we can do better than this.