Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

November 1, 2005 > Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall

TCV: Why are you running for council?

Marshall: First and foremost, I am running because I have spent 19 years on the Planning Commission. We spend a lot of time reacting to ideas that came from someplace else, notably the city council. I would like an opportunity to be proactive in terms of our development and put some ideas of my own in place. I take a lot of pride that I have been involved in the community as a Planning Commissioner for 19 years and a resident for 33 years and been involved in many community organizations as a volunteer and a leader. I would like to take that experience and put it on city council.

TCV: What are the challenges facing Newark and how will you be able to help the city face them?

Marshall: Maintaining fiscal clarity; I have been an executive with major financial institutions, have run my own business and done a lot of budgeting and accounting. I am the type of guy that likes to get involved in that type of process.

We have wonderful public safety departments - police and fire. We seem to have a budding gang problem which has surfaced in the last eight or nine months. I would like to work with Chief Samuels and see what we can do about putting some of his initiatives into place.

TCV: What is your vision for Newark?

Marshall: We have a good land use plan in our General Plan. There is adequate space for growth in retail and industrial areas. I am a real estate appraiser for Fremont Bank doing commercial and industrial real estate. Actually, vacancy factors in industrial properties have declined over the past two or three years since they reached a peak of about 25% in about 2002. There is some optimism in that area.

The question is how to attract businesses to fill that space. I don't think we have too much trouble with retail space as evidenced by at least two of our new retail centers being built - one by NewPark Mall and another small one at Raley's Center. Retail brings in sales tax revenue which constitutes the bulk of funds Newark has to operate with. We have a fantastic Community Development Department and they do a wonderful job finding new businesses to come into town.

TCV: What should Newark do to help middle income people afford homes in the area?

Marshall: Housing is really a regional problem. Newark was one of the first two cities to get their housing element approved by the state of California. The problem is that Californians - and Americans in general - have a love affair with a detached single family dwelling. In older urban areas, densities are much higher and until we can create these higher densities, we will not be able to meet the housing needs at all socio-economic levels. Affordable housing is the ability to have a nice, clean, healthy, safe place to live and raise your kids no matter where you are in the economic strata. That is what we all want. The only way to meet that need is to increase density. The challenge is to create safe, high quality, attractive high density developments. The best place to do this is near a transportation hub.

TCV: What is the next significant project for Newark?

Marshall: The Watkins Hall Museum has been delayed due to budgetary constraints, but that is probably one focus. It was originally an Odd Fellows Hall and has a nice area upstairs with a small stage that can serve a double purpose as a museum area and a "black box" theater for small audiences. Plans call for an annex to be added as well. Old Town is also very important and much attention is being given to the revitalization of that area.

There is currently money in the budget for a study of a new Senior Center which is needed. I would also like to see a performing arts center. The city of Cerritos which is similar to Newark, in many ways, has a beautiful performing arts center that seats 1,700 people. Big name artists come there and play all the time. That is one of my dreams. The school district has at least two sites that are surplus. I would like to explore the possibility of a joint effort by the school district and the city to rent the space and make better use of some of the grounds that are not being used.

For more information, visit www.marshallforcouncil.org

 
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