Strolling through Locke has always been a fascinating adventure. Picturesque Main Street, with its tilting buildings and ancient facades, evokes a bygone era. Gazing tourists, shutterbugs, shops, bikers and cats. Main Street is the pulsing breath of Locke.
Find your way to the back of town and the diminishing din is palpable. Time slows. Quirky homes and porches, trees and flowers… and cats. Here is where the original Chinese residents grew their food, raised their families and lived meaningful, frugal lives. Backstreet is the quiet heartbeat of Locke.
However, traversing Main Street to backstreet, or River Road to Main Street, could be a somewhat perilous adventure in itself. Until now.
“Watch your step!”.… Those who reside or visit Locke have heard that phrase before – a lot. It had become a Locke mantra. Decades of footfalls, weather and neglect had turned Locke’s wooden walkways and stairways into treacherous catwalks – especially at night, or rainy days….. or after a visit to Al the Wop’s. However, thanks to a $100,000 grant from Sacramento County, Locke’s perilous wooden pathways have been reconstructed.
Old walkway next to Al The Wop’s
The Locke Walkway Project began with an announcement from Sacramento County that funding for Locke pedestrian walkways was budgeted. After contracts between Sacramento County and the Locke Management Corporation (LMC) were signed, a special account was opened at the Walnut Grove Branch of F&M Bank where funds were deposited. APR Accounting in Walnut Grove provided the bookkeeping services.
The LMC reached out to more than two dozen contractors in an attempt to solicit bids for the project. Many contractors were reluctant to bid such an unusual project: 300 feet of pathways to be leveled and graded; then pea gravel beds laid. 600 feet of 4×4 pressure treated runners placed, then surfaced with prime redwood 2×6 deck boards. In addition, special attention had to be paid to where the newly constructed walkways abutted the existing (fractured) concrete sidewalks, still in need of repair (next project).
Ultimately, only two contractors were willing to bid the project. However, it was with great fortune the chosen contract went to American Building Development. Not only skillful and timely, the ABD crew were respectful and acutely sensitive to the historical significance of Locke. ABD accommodated the numerous details necessary to present an historic and aesthetic appearance of the project.
The $100,000 funding seemed more than adequate for the replacement of the two walkways that connect Main Street to Key Street. And it was. But the project didn’t stop there
It was decided to replace the rotten wooden landing at the bottom of the north stairway that leads from River Road to Main Street. Upon reaching the stairway, it was determined that the stairway was in worse condition than the walkways and landing. So, the entire stairway had to be replaced. Then it became painfully obvious that the walkway (bridge) that connects River Road to the stairway was in horrid condition. Even dangerous. But funding was running low. In fact, there were not enough funds remaining in the LMC bank account to cover the final “bridge” construction.
New stairway and landing connecting Main Street to River Road
LMC Treasurer Joe Prassa, who had worked closely with the ABD crew throughout the project, then met with Dmitriy Yarovenco, Chief Executive Officer of ABD Construction, to discuss the situation. What followed was another stroke of good fortune. Yarovenco graciously offered to finish the project using the balance of the funds. The project was then completed within budget and on schedule. (The Locke Asian Pacific Spring Festival was to be staged only two weeks from project completion.)
Old bridge walkway from River Road
New bridge walkway
One final element still needed to be completed: a new archway located atop the stairway leading from River Road to Main Street, welcoming visitors to the town of Locke. With guidance of Locke resident Mark Miller, the archway was designed to compliment the facade and archway of Locke’s historic Star Theater.
The supporting arch was not to be constructed of laminated wood or lumber cut to shape. This would not conform to historic architectural standards of Locke, founded in 1915. Redwood, immersed in boiling water over the period of two days, was bent into the proper arc. Dentils, a series of closely spaced wooden blocks, were added to the base of the archway, mimicking those of the Star Theater. Century-old bead board was utilized to cover the frame of the archway. Next, antique style white ceramic light fixtures were wired and affixed to the base of the archway. Low energy (one watt) aesthetically appropriate light bulbs were used to illuminate the walkway and stairs. Yet to be added: The welcoming text to be painted on the archway. That decision will be made by Locke property owners.
New archway leading to Main Street
Construction of the archway was funded by The Locke Foundation.
The Locke Management Corporation is grateful to Sacramento County for the generous funding supplied to complete this necessary and meaningful project.
The Locke Management Corporation is grateful to Sacramento County for the generous funding supplied to complete this necessary and meaningful project. The LMC would also like to thank American Building Development, LMC Directors Joe Prassa, Lisa Kirk and Stuart Walthall, and Locke business owner Mark Miller.
American Building Development Construction Crew
Igor Kurliak, Andrii Savchuk, Mykola Valivko
Oleg Berenko (videographer) and Dmitri Yarovenko