Talk of the town

The Discover Gilroy survey was designed as a tool to aid city

On Dec. 14, city officials opened an online forum asking
residents, business owners and tourists for the lowdown on
everything Gilroy: Its weaknesses. Its strengths. Its best
features. Its dirty laundry. In doing so they unlocked the flood
gates of discourse; returning dialogue encompassing a smorgasbord
of topics from gangs to feral cats, wineries to downtown parking.
The Dispatch presents the good, bad and interesting of the
survey.
On Dec. 14, city officials opened an online forum asking residents, business owners and tourists for the lowdown on everything Gilroy:

Its weaknesses. Its strengths. Its best features. Its dirty laundry.

In doing so they unlocked the flood gates of discourse; returning dialogue encompassing a smorgasbord of topics from gangs to feral cats, wineries to downtown parking.

The open comment space made available at the end of the survey became a stream of consciousness writing session for some.

Many took the opportunity to eloquently express what they love and support in their hometown.

Others, still, seized the anonymity as a hall-pass to candidly touch on sensitive social hot buttons.

Created by Articulate Solutions Inc., whose headquarters are located downtown, the Discover Gilroy survey was designed as a tool to aid city officials in helping the Garlic Capital be all that it can be – ideal place to visit, raise a family and establish a business.

After Gilroyans jumped on the chance to offer their two cents, resulting commentary runs the gamut from praising, to critical, to perspective-broadening to comical, yielding an illuminating spectrum of community views.

About the Discover Gilroy survey: The online forum built by Articulate Solutions Inc. was posted Dec. 14 and taken down Jan. 31, received a grand total of 979 responses, and is broken down as follows:

– Resident Survey: English … 686 responses

– Resident Survey: Spanish … 18 responses

– Business Survey: English … 114 responses

– Business Survey: Spanish … 3 responses

– Tourism Survey … 141 responses

Source: Articulate Solutions Inc.

Like:

– Hiking/outdoor recreation at Mount Madonna, Henry Coe Park and Harvey Bear Ranch

– A genuine concern residents have for the well-being of their city and “Gilroy’s incredible sense of community”

– The trove of local wineries tucked away on backroads

– The fact Gilroy is getting a brand new library

– Gilroy’s rich agricultural heritage and surrounding natural landscapes

– Gilroy’s centralized and convenient location

– City focus on graffiti removal/prevention

– OD’s Kitchen and Station 55

– Interim Center for the Arts

– Gilroy’s non-profit sector and “volunteer attitude”

Dislike:

– The lack of police on foot or bike patrols downtown

– Shady or “unclean” dive bars

– Transients, skateboarders, panhandlers and homeless people congregating downtown or in parking lots

– All of the condemned and vacant buildings

– The fact downtown is “dark,” “uninviting” and “unsafe” at night

– A seemingly nonexistent nightlife; lack of entertainment downtown

– The lack of grass at Gilroy’s dog park, and the crowd that congregates at Las Animas Veterans Memorial Park

– “Insufficient” downtown parking

– The small stray dogs and feral cat population

– Gilroy’s cable and internet services, i.e. Verizon and Charter

– The old and vacant Wal-Mart building

What some Gilroyans want:

– Downtown specialty stores: Boutique clothing, arts and crafts, second hand clothing, jewelry, art, home decor

– A Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or health foods store

– A wine bar, nicer bars, upscale restaurants, traditional full service bakery, brewery

– Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Hooters

– Farmer’s market/outdoor flea market

– For Gilroy to “be as nice as Morgan Hill”

– More professional jobs available in Gilroy

What some Gilroyans had to say about…

– Farmer’s markets:

– “I wish there was a farmer’s market, like the one in downtown Monterey on Tuesday nights. I miss living there. It seemed like there was a different cultural fair every weekend. Diversity was celebrated there. I feel culturally isolated here.”

– Gilroy Wineries:

– “Wineries are great; however we need a downtown wine tasting venue to preview those wineries to visitors.”

– “Wineries! It’s like Napa here and out-of-towners don’t seem to know this.”

– Gilroy’s dog park:

– “A dog park with a better location in the northwest corner, away from the bums and druggies.”

– “A better dog park with grass, trees and benches. We go to the one in Morgan Hill. Only visited Gilroy once and couldn’t believe it was called a dog park.”

– “The dog park is a great idea but the surrounding park environment makes it unusable. I will never go there again.”

– “My dog gets so muddy and dusty when she goes there.”

– The number of restaurants offering Hispanic cuisine:

– “No more Mexican places (love the food, too much overlap)

– “More good restaurants. Not taquerias.”

– “I like all the unique restaurants here. There is a great selection of Mexican restaurants.”

– “This town has too many Mexican and takeout pizza restaurants.”

– Gangs:

– “(Downtown) doesn’t seem like the safest area of our small little town. The drive by shootings are a bit of a turn off.”

– “On one hand, Gilroy is a wonderful place to raise your family on the other hand GILROY needs to have a ZERO tolerance toward ANY Mexican gang activity especially in the 8th street, 6th street downtown area … as long as gangs are around, people will not come and shop.”

– “The gangs and vandals are out of control. I see teen-agers roaming the streets sometimes as late as midnight or later.”

– Downtown:

– “The last time I went downtown, I was appalled by the vagrant problem. It feels unsafe to be down there. It never felt like that before. Also the vacant buildings just lend to the air of decay.”

– “Downtown needs to be SAFE, CLEAN and less ghetto! Have stores and restaurants people want to go to. It’s disgusting right now. Take a note from Morgan Hill.”

– “Morgan Hill has mushrooms dotting street – Gilroy could have colorful garlics …”

*– “Wine stroll, community garden nice addition. It’s sort of embarrassing for me to try to bring my friends from Morgan Hill downtown.”

– “(Needs) a museum or artist studio or a cool cafe – like the kind you see in San Francisco that’s hip and charming.”

– “Downtown could be such a GREAT place for various businesses, but there aren’t any good-sized areas to meet, gather, read with a beverage, work on laptop, etc.”

– “Allowing somewhat of a nightlife to exist would be nice too. Any time a bar gets too successful, the city shuts it down for fear of gang violence.”

– “We need a full regentrification of downtown like Pasadena did. Look at them now!”

– “Plan new and relocate existing ‘mechanic’ and other vehicle service shops away from downtown.”

– Lack of teen-oriented social outlets:

–”The youth or teen-agers think that Gilroy is boring they need like a skating arena, arcade place somewhere where they could hangout together and have fun!! That’s the reason why most of them rather go to downtown San Jose or Morgan Hill Bowl.”

– “More options for the younger crowd to get out and meet each other and have a good time. There are a lot of us out here, but it seems many of us go to San Jose or Hollister to go out. It would be great to have more places for the locals to get together and have a good time.”

– “Most of all the children and teens in Gilroy do not get enough attention, they need a recreation center that is meaningful and easy to get to.”

Quotes for thought:

– “We need a LEGAL Medical Marijuana facility so my suffering uncle doesn’t have to go to San Jose every time he needs his medication.”

– “I love the ‘still’ small town feeling. I dislike some merchants attitudes toward our minorities.”

– “A personality. The city has none. You have SJ commuters who don’t relate to Gilroy and the old guard that wants to keep it quaint – but it aint. However, the natural beauty surrounding the community is awesome.”

– “I would love it if we could convince the University of California to create U.C. Gilroy. I’m serious. We have the land and the students. I am a high school teacher.”

– “To support the people that actually invest in our city. Tax revenue is nice, but none of the East 152 development is a real investment in the city, just a fiscal Band-Aid for poor city planning.”

– “It’s the place I love and would really like to set up a business and raise my family in. However in the past 15 years of extremely poor city planning on the part of city officials have sent the city on a self destructive path. Officials have no backbone (or long term planning ability) when it comes to making development based decisions.”

– “Local newspaper tends to focus on negative topics … often missing some really good events that take place in Gilroy … even when they are notified well in advance.”

– “We have great shopping, too, but more importantly we have ‘community’… we have ‘heart.’ We’re not as stuffy or pretentious as our neighbor to the North – Morgan Hill, and that should be leveraged too.”

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