Letters have been sent to residents along Lower Buck Gully, advising them that an erosion project is moving along with construction still slated to begin after Labor Day.

The project "should stabilize the canyon bottom by retraining the creek to its historic location near the center of the canyon," the letter states.

Wire-mesh baskets filled with river rock will be placed in the lower part of Buck Gully, and rock structures will be installed in the upper bend of the creek.

Without the measures, officials fear that some houses may slide down the hillside if a major storm causes erosion.

The project required more than 20 homeowners to sign easements, which nearly doomed the project before it began when many were reluctant to sign.

In October 2009, City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner joined City Manager Dave Kiff and Bob Stein, the assistant city engineer working on the project, in a door-to-door effort to gain support. Eventually, last February, all easements were granted and staff began to move forward, but the project was delayed nearly a year.

The letter, dated Feb. 17 from Stein, says that community members have given feedback, as well as regulatory agencies, and that drawings and specifications are being updated.

Documents will be finalized next month, the letter states, and will be available for public review.

After the construction, the canyon will be re-vegetated with native plants, the letter states, and certain mature trees will be protected.

The project should have permits in place by June, and the City Council will award contracts in August, the letter states.

Construction should begin after Labor Day and take four months, with planting taking another four months. Work will be performed between 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays.

"The contractor will need to abide by all noise restrictions and good-housekeeping provisions in the project specifications," the letter states.

Also, Little Corona Beach access will be maintained.

The project was expected to cost about $2 million, with $800,000 paid for by grants.

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Newport seeks artists' proposals for statue

Newport Beach has posted a request for proposals from artists who would like to create a statue or sculpture of Ronald Reagan for the Reagan Centennial Memorial.

A Reagan statue has been the topic of City Council and Arts Commission meetings that drew dozens of residents and stirred passion in the community during the past several weeks.

Artists will have a $50,000 budget that needs to include the sculpture, base, engraving and delivery to Newport Beach, according to the city's website. A committee of donors as well as city officials will evaluate the proposals.

The proposal guidelines specify that "(t)he President should be standing, in a suit and should be smiling … The facial expression should reflect the warmth, accessibility and inherent friendliness of President Reagan, but also capture his quiet dignity, presidential bearing and reflect his global vision and leadership…"