The population boom of the 1960s continued throughout the 1970s, forcing Roseville to expand. At the time, Roseville was truly a city in transition. By 1973, all of Southern Pacific’s 21,000-car fleet was self-refrigerating. The need for the world’s largest ice plant was no more, and this most impressive of all local railroad landmarks was torn down in the spring of 1974. The future of the railroad and its Roseville employees remained a constant matter of concern for years to come.
Expansion throughout Roseville proved to be troublesome for the once thriving business centered downtown. Additional threats to the downtown area’s future included completion of the first units of another shopping center for Payless Super Drugs Store in November 1974 and Albertson’s Supermarket in 1975. For a time, Vernon Street and Riverside Avenue kept pace with fast growing East Roseville, but by 1970, a good deal of the once bustling business shifted eastward. Gradually, long-time downtown businesses like Huskinson’s Drug Store, dating from 1916; Taylor’s Red & White Grocery, 1926; Wolf & Royer Hardware, 1926; J.C. Penney, 1930 and others quietly closed their doors and retired or moved to new locations.
The City of Roseville came up with a unique plan for financing the increasing demands for expanding municipal services. Revenue (income producing) bonds, an innovative first for both Roseville and the State of California, were subscribed for additions to Roseville Hospital, establishment and expansion of sewage disposal facilities, development of a municipal golf course (Diamond Oaks) and construction of a $5 million water treatment plant and water distribution system. An additional $1.7 million revenue bond issue was passed to provide the City’s share of an $8.1 million sewage treatment facility. The regional facility, completed in 1973, served Roseville and the Rocklin-Loomis Municipal District.
Train munitions explosion
Thousands of munitions shipments passed through Roseville during World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and Desert Storm without a single mishap. An exception to the rule, however, occurred on the morning of April 28, 1973 when a wooden floor on a munitions boxcar caught fire from brake shoe sparks. The fire resulted in a series of earth-shattering explosions causing $5.6 million worth of damage in Roseville and neighboring communities of Citrus Heights, Antelope and North Highlands. Miraculously no lives were lost but over 100 people were treated for assorted cuts and bruises caused by broken glass and flying debris. Since that fateful day, corrective actions have been taken, and it is unlikely that such an explosion will ever occur again.
Throughout this period of steady growth, however, physical facilities for City departments remained static. After a bond issue for building a new Police and Fire Department facility was voted down in 1967, a unique city-county plan, using cigarette tax monies, was developed. The “Placer County-Roseville Civic Center Improvement Authority” project housed the Roseville Police and Fire departments as well as a Roseville Juvenile Court and Constable’s Office. Work on the Public Safety Building and the adjacent court facility began on July 12, 1971 and completed in February 1973. Remodeling of the former Police and Fire Department facilities at City Hall began upon completion of the Public Safety Building. In September 1974, the city clerk, public works and engineering offices occupied these areas. Other alterations were subsequently made to provide additional space for municipal offices. The need for more space, however, remained critical. Acquisition of streambed lands for both flood control and bicycle/hiking trails and of park acreage while open lands were still available continued to be pressing matters of interest.
Roseville Main Library
High on the priority list was a new main library. The still serviceable but overcrowded Carnegie-endowed building dating from 1912 could no longer meet the needs of the growing community. Through the efforts of Congressman Harold T. “Bizz” Johnson, a $1.4 million federal grant for partial construction of a $2.1 million library was obtained from the 1976 Public Works Act. The City raised the additional funds needed through revenue bond sharing. Ground breaking for the 30,000-square-foot building at the Taylor and Royer street site took place on Dec. 12, 1978. The building was occupied on Sept. 4, 1979 and officially dedicated on Nov. 10. Additional branch libraries were maintained at 129 Coloma Way and at the original library at 557 Lincoln Street.
Roseville’s first female councilmember was June Wanish, who continued many years of dedicated community service when she was elected by an overwhelming majority to the City Council in 1978. She subsequently became the first female mayor in Roseville’s history as an incorporated city dating back to 1909. Wanish was re-elected to the Council in 1980 and 1982 along with Martha Riley who was also elected to the Council that year. Since then several other women, including Pauline Roccucci, Claudia Gamar and Gina Garbolino, have been elected to that governing body and served as mayor.