RIO VISTA -- This Delta town will be the first East Bay city to receive growth, planning, transportation and economic development guidance from the American Institute of Architects.

In early 2014, a group of urban planners and architects will visit Rio Vista over several days to evaluate the town's natural assets, layout and challenges. Rio Vista officials were recently notified of the future help from AIA's Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team program, which is based in Washington, D.C.

"The small town of Rio Vista was a likely candidate for a R/UDAT study with its scenic but undeveloped waterfront, a local airport, a regional highway going through the city and a downtown area unchanged since the 1950s," said the Rio Vista steering committee's co-chairwoman MaryEllen Lamothe.

To receive this pro-bono work that is similar to a grant, the city had to obtain more than a dozen letters of recommendations from Solano County agencies, cities and political leaders, according to Lamothe.

"This will have a very positive effect," said steering committee co-chairman Dave Falk. "They don't want it to be driven by the city government. They want it to be grass roots and community-based and citizen-driven."

This program has been in existence for 45 years and it has helped more than 200 communities, including Healdsburg, Falk noted. He added that some of the changes may take place in a few years, while others may take more than 20 years to come to fruition.


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"It will be the driving force of the community for many years to come," Falk said. "We just want to grow wisely. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed from an in-depth perspective."

Rio Vista residents involved in obtaining this assistance are asking for a vision or master plan, including steps to create a more viable business environment, revitalize the waterfront area, connect the old and new housing stock and adapt as Highway 12 changes over time.

"This waterfront is the victim of development and declining industries. There have been some baby steps toward waterfront development," Lamothe said. "The city has never had any real comprehensive planning based on what is here."

Reach Paula King at 926-779-7174.