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ROTA Shopping Trip Plans Making Progress

POSTED June 16, 2010 1:38 a.m.

Riverbank Oakdale Transit Authority members made progress on June 8 with polishing a plan to set up an intercity shopping trip by trolley every Tuesday but delayed a decision to go ahead until next month.

Transit coordinator Donna Bridges estimated it would cost about $12,500 to operate the fixed route for six months. The Authority has no funds for this but Riverbank Crossroads Shopping Center owner Darryl Browman has said he will assist with the funding if he can secure assistance from local businesses in Riverbank and Oakdale.

Oakdale Mayor Pro Tem Katherine Morgan argued the proposal seems designed to ferry Oakdale residents to the Crossroads shopping center in Riverbank and not the other direction. She wants more research done to see if Oakdale stores also are interested in providing financial support to draw shoppers to Oakdale.

Oakdale Mayor Farrell Jackson argued much the same at a previous meeting, saying he was uncomfortable at transporting Oakdale residents out of town with the tax proceeds going to Riverbank.

Some Authority members also suggested they initiate the Tuesday trip and later add a Thursday trip for the benefit of Oakdale residents and stores if it is established there is an interest.

Oakdale senior citizens’ activist Mickey Peabody noted, almost jokingly, this was a real turnabout on the situation several years ago before Riverbank residents had a shopping center and were seeking transportation to Oakdale and its stores.

Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno said the Authority was there to provide transportation to residents, especially seniors, that they do not do very well at present and was for going ahead with the Tuesday shopping trip program at once.

“Why not bring in private enterprise?” Madueno said. “The Agency does not have the funds. The seniors are not getting the full benefit of the system. In the best interests of the community and for the best price in a tough economy, we should move ahead.”

Bridges noted Browman’s assistant had not yet contacted all the center’s main stores.

Morgan said she supported the plan but felt the research that Bridges did among some 30 residents at the Oak Haven Senior Apartments was insufficient and should be expanded.

“We should ask the Oakdale businesses if they want to be involved. They may feel left out. Maybe some Riverbank residents want to get to K-Mart (in Oakdale),” she said, citing a number of other Oakdale stores that might be interested such as Cost Less, Rite Aid, Tractor Supply and the coming Walgreen’s.

Riverbank Vice Mayor Sandra Benitez commented Oakdale senior citizens have a social center and are better organized than their peers in Riverbank.

“In Riverbank the seniors do not cooperate,” she said. “We serve seniors lunches three days a week but only about a dozen turn up for each meal. Coffee klatches only bring in about 20 a time. And 90 percent of people at the seniors’ dances are from out of town.”

Peabody observed 35 percent of people coming to the Oakdale Seniors Center come from outside city limits. The Center has not imposed a use fee yet but may eventually be forced to do so.

The proposed shopping trip trolley would leave Riverbank at 9 a.m., pick up at the Oakdale Senior Center at 9:20 a.m. and return to Riverbank to reach the Crossroads Shopping Center by 10:05 a.m. With stops at the Riverbank seniors housing downtown, the new apartments opposite Riverbank High School, Castleberg Park and Galaxy Theater and Oakdale Senior Center, it would return to Crossroads at 11 a.m., 12:55 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Peabody noted it would provide several hours’ shopping at Crossroads and serve shoppers much better than using Dial A Ride buses “which had seniors sitting outside in the sun with their ice cream melting.”

“I’m sorry we don’t have Crossroads in Oakdale,” she said. “But we cannot punish people for that reason. I try to do as much of my shopping as possible in Oakdale. But for some items I still have to go to Home Depot and Staples and Best Buy (at the Crossroads).”

The shopping trip trolleys would be open to all residents, not just senior citizens. Bridges suggested the seniors might ride for free. Madueno said she would like to see them pay at last a nominal sum, perhaps 25 cents.

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