Hardscrabble likely to be closed

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By MIKE MORRIS

Several Angels Camp residents living on or near Hardscrabble Street home of the city's historic "chicken ladder" walkway were all smiles after hearing the street might soon be closed to traffic.

Angels Camp Mayor Debbie Ponte's motion to plan for the closure of Hardscrabble, a steep, block-long downtown Angels Camp street, won unanimous approval at last night's City Council meeting.

Marty and Cheryl Mellera have lived at the top of Hardscrabble Street at Mark Twain Street for the past 20 years. Along with some neighbors, they have pleaded for closure.

"I'm happy to see this motion pass by the City Council," Cheryl Mellera said. "It's important to our historical heritage."

The council has decided to restore the deteriorating path, which was constructed at least a century ago so Hardscrabble residents could more easily walk the steep street. It was rebuilt about 20 years ago.

"The chicken ladder: Who else has one?" Marty Mellera asked the council.

Councilman Lee Seaton said he likes the idea of putting signs at the historical landmark, named for resembling the ladder inside a chicken coop. Those signs would give the chicken ladder's history.

"Chicken ladder: Let's save it!" Cheryl Mellera said, putting two thumbs up.

The council allocated $10,000 for the restoration of the chicken ladder, but the city's public works crew estimates it can get the job done for $3,200.

Because the city is investing thousands of dollars, council members wondered how the walkway would be maintained. Hardscrabble residents say speeding cars destroy the chicken ladder, and safety is an issue for pedestrians and tourists who frequent the street.

"I don't want to just go out there and pick up bodies. It's bound to happen," Marty Mellera said of potential accidents.

The narrow street has an 8 percent grade.

"Even San Francisco would have trouble calling it a street," he said.

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The Union Democrat
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