September 24, 2013 > Editorial: On hold?
Editorial: On hold?
By William Marshak
With eyes firmly focused on Warm Springs and Civic Center Òdowntown,Ó Fremont appears to be spending little effort on continuing issues that have plagued the City for decades. Although politicians are not known for being able to walk and chew gum at the same time, it may be that, just like the lottery, sometimes you get lucky and find the right combination at the right moment. Although the numbers on the council ticket may be revealed slowly, some are beginning to line up. With a bit of effort, dusty plans and past staff reports can be closely examined and councilmembers can scrutinize what has been on hold for years to determine which of those issues should be reopened for discussion and action.
For example, the intrusion of Route 84 through the heart of Centerville is not only restrictive, but adds to blighted conditions by excluding City control. Plans have been formulated and development of the ÒUnified SiteÓ may finally be within a living personÕs lifetime, hopefully mine. However, state incursion in its midst presents needless obstacles. Negotiations with the State over this road have been put on the shelf with a myriad of other projects that can be resolved through a coordinated and concentrated effort. It appears that the City has abandoned such efforts and decided to wait. Nothing new with this plan, but when action Ð or inaction Ð has been obviously unsuccessful, it could be a sign that its time to try something new. LetÕs take this out of a holding pattern and see if our council can walk and chew gum too.
As I understand it, the problem for the State and City of Fremont is that if control or alteration of Highway 84 takes place, the existing route must meet roadway standards above what currently exists. How about working a deal with the State, removing State control in exchange for a deferred action plan that sets a timetable for road improvements? As development of the Unified Site nears, the City could create a synergistic response with removal of Highway 84, a public/private partnership to reinvent the Center Theater and use the old Fire Station across the street as a cafˇ/jazz club. These iconic structures link the heart and soul of Centerville and, with the new Artist Walk development, create redevelopment energy that could bring vitality to the area and create a template for Irvington. The Fremont Redevelopment Agency did a lot of talking and planning in Centerville, but results were meager. However, with political will and motivation, it can be done.
If the City Council shows progress, citizens of Fremont may also want to consider taking the current attitude toward part-time council representation off ÒholdÓ as well. With successful leadership resulting in fruitful council actions and activism, citizens should be open to consideration of expanding council positions to full time. Fremont is a large city and needs full time representation. A bureaucratic staff may be necessary to keep civic machinery moving, but leadership and visionary control is best left within the purview of elected leadership. It is essential that the electorate understands its responsibility to govern through designated representatives. Voters need to understand their role and that of their elected officials; to guard these offices and elect only those most qualified to promote and protect the well-being of the entire City. LetÕs take all of Fremont off hold.