Some preliminary work began Thursday on a long-awaited project to close East Linoberg Street for a year and turn it into a hangout spot.

City of Sonora Public Works employees grinded off the “Stop” lettering painted on the asphalt where the one-way side street meets up with South Washington Street.

City Councilwoman Connie Williams said the city is determining what type of material they will use to surface the road.

“We’ll just have to wait for them to come up with what will work,” she said. “We want to cool the street down.”

City Administrator Tim Miller said he didn’t have a schedule to share.

Williams said the city’s Vision Sonora Committee, which has worked on the project for more than five years, has raised more than $13,000 from donations to pay for converting the street.

They applied for a $10,000 grant through AARP, but were denied.

The next step is to set up the solar-powered lights overhead between the buildings on each side of the street.

Williams said the city has ordered the lights while the committee is working with the owner of the buildings to make that happen.

“I don’t have a timeline (for when the street will be closed) because we have to put the lights up before we can do anything else,” she said.

Large planter pots to block cars on each side from entering the streets have also been ordered from Lowe’s, which has donated half of them.

There will be arbors on each side of the pots to create an archway for the entrances.

Williams said they also have benches, trash cans, doggie bag dispensers, and umbrellas for shade already.

A company out of Mariposa is crafting tables from stone from Blue Mountain Minerals in Columbia.

The goal is to have enough to block the street for most of the remaining part of fall.

“We want people to hopefully enjoy it during the fall and winter months,” Williams said.

Professional artist Judy Grossman, who runs JG Designs in Sonora, will design a mural on the wall of the building that houses the Diamondback Grill.

The mural will feature five windows representing different eras of Sonora history.

Williams said the mural is estimated to cost $20,000. About $2,500 of the $13,000 they’ve already raised is specifically for the mural.

Everything will be removable if the city decides they would like to turn it back into a side street, but the committee’s goal is to make it nice enough that people will want it to be permanent.

The project was previously voted by members of the community as one of the most desired in the Vision Sonora Plan, which was adopted by the council in 2013.

“This is something that the community wanted to happen,” Williams said. “It’s exciting that we are finally getting it through design and possibly completion.”

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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