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Updated Vision for DeWitt Government Center Underway

June 02, 2015

The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday that the master plan for the Placer County (DeWitt) Government Center in North Auburn is due for an update focused on the next 20 years.

The update will lay out a comprehensive plan for building, roadway and utility projects that will be needed at the Government Center, a county-owned campus commonly known as the DeWitt Center. It covers approximately 200 acres located west of Highway 49 south of Bell Road.

Under the process described to the board Tuesday, the county will:

  • Move ahead with plans for opening a DeWitt History Museum by the end of the year;
  • Conduct a feasibility study on the potential for constructing a multi-generational community center within the greater Auburn area;
  • Continue assisting tenants who face a June 30 deadline for vacating facilities they lease at the Government Center; and    
  • Evaluate the continued demolition of obsolete buildings at the center over time.

County staff emphasized Tuesday that proposals to tear down additional buildings at the center would go to the board for review and approval.

More than a dozen speakers addressed the board during Tuesday’s discussion of the master plan update. Some lobbied the board to preserve specific buildings such as the DeWitt Theatre.

Board members expressed a willingness to consider the future of the entire center during the master plan update – including those areas that will be needed for county government services and areas that will be available for private uses.     

The county plans to hire a consultant to help with the update process, including community outreach efforts that will give the public opportunities to provide input on the center’s future.

“We want to make sure we have community input and, whenever possible, include it in the plan,” said Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, emphasizing that the center is a community asset and all interested parties should have a say on its future.

Several board members emphasized that the county has made significant progress in implementing a master plan developed in 1993, pointing to the construction of new, modern buildings that have allowed the county to expand its staff and services to accommodate population growth.

“I think we’ve made some great progress,” said Supervisor Jim Holmes. “And I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

New buildings constructed at the center since the 1993 master plan was adopted include the Community Development Resource Center, Auburn Justice Center, Larry Oddo Finance Administration Building, main jail and juvenile detention center. A 29,500-square-foot Animal Services Center is under construction and scheduled to be completed next year.

Since 2004, obsolete buildings with approximately 288,000 square feet of space have been demolished.

The Government Center was built during World War II to serve as a hospital for injured soldiers. Two years after it opened, the war ended and the state took over the property, using the buildings to operate a state mental hospital.  The DeWitt Museum will be located in a building that served as an officer’s quarters during World War II.

The state transferred ownership of the center to the county in 1971 and approved legislation in 1978 that authorized the county to raise revenue by leasing facilities to private businesses. Revenue is used to upgrade and redevelop the center.

At the end of Tuesday’s discussion, board members emphasized they will not forget the center’s history, pointing to plans for the museum and the many decades of planning, visioning and public discussion that have come before the board.

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