Oh where, oh where should those outlet dollars go?

Coldest Gilroy Fourth of July in my memory. Geez, it felt like early November with the wind whistling over the west mountains with chilly gusts rustling the trees. Meanwhile, most of the nation sweltered in 100-degreeish heat and awful humidity. The cool breeze didn’t stop the illegal fireworks dumbkopfs who were out in seemingly greater force than usual. Something unfortunate is going to happen – an apartment building on fire, or a child hit with an errant bottle rocket – and that will be the flashpoint argument for those who want to ban fireworks altogether in Gilroy. And, again, the minority will tyrannize the majority who enjoy the legal fireworks and the show at the high school.
Enjoying the  fabulous bay view from Seals Plaza, a pre-Garlic Festival helping of oh-so-tender calamari (it’s going to be fabulous this year, folks) and the company of a boatload of friendly Gilroyans last Friday really made the first SF Giants Gilroy Garlic Festival bash a hit. Fantastic job by the G-Fest volunteers setting up a mini-Gourmet Alley out in Seals Plaza to give 2,000 or so fans a pre-taste of the Best Fest in the West. You would have thought they had set this up for years. Alley chairs Doug Stewart and Dave Reynolds were the driving force behind all those who made it happen. There were flame-ups courtesy of Kevin O’Keffe, “Big John” Vickroy, Bob Filice and Steve Janisch and others, loads of garlic permeated the air and Ken Dowd and his garlic bread crew cranked out gobs of perfectly dunked slices. This should be a slam-garlic-dunk annual event. Hats off to former Gilroyan and SF Giants employee Bobby Baksa for the assist on the play. Mr. Bobby ought to bump up the garlic fries eating contest next year. How about four Gilroyans in a competition on that big screen instead of the one guy who ate the fries like he was having tea and crumpets? The judges awarded him a gift “victory,” but the crowd watching the big screen rightly moaned and booed. The contest could be a lot more fun and spirited. Oh, and before I forget, let’s do this garlic party before a weekend day game next year and let’s keep the same rockin’ band – The Famous. In fact, invite those guys to play on the Ampitheater Stage next year in prime time on Saturday. They were that good, and they were a blast.
This year, there’s one slot open at the always-fun and always-busy Gilroy Foundation wine cooler booth at the festival. Email Gina Anderson, the lively project coordinator for the Foundation who is, amazingly, related somehow to the one, the only Frankie “Sinatra” Angelino, at [email protected] if you’re up for an Opening Day shift on Friday, July 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s good fun for a  good cause.
Cause for pause is this news tidbit: “In McAllen, Texas, WalMart Stores Inc. abandoned one of their big box stores. Rather than let it collect dust, the city transformed it into the U.S.’s largest public library … the new library – which has won multiple awards for creative reuse – has reported a 23% rise in use since moving into the new building.” Took a look at a video of the new facility, and it’s very impressive – all the bells and whistles without such a high cost. The point is that we in Gilroy, and our leaders, should seriously consider creative alternatives to costly $30-million-plus new buildings before spending millions more than what might be necessary to achieve the same goals. Schools, libraries, police stations … let’s look at alternatives first.
Not seeking creative alternatives is perhaps one of the reasons respondents to our latest poll question – “For residents, which city do you believe is better run – Morgan Hill or Gilroy?” – think our northerly neighbor has done a better job than we have by a significant margin. Studies show that a town’s aesthetic attributes – parks, playgrounds, trails, natural beauty and physical setting – have a great deal to do with the happiness quotient for the residents. Gilroy has to keep that in mind and play upon its strengths. We have great parks, maintain and police them (thanks to the Garlic Festival Board for renovating the ampitheater at Christmas Hill Park). We have the wonderful Uvas Levee Trail. How can we make it even better and more friendly? Our downtown needs major help, however. So what can the city do next to really assist? City-owned Gilroy Gardens is magnificent. But there should be more local people heading there. The Gilroy Golf Course is truly an 11-hole gem, but the city should remodel and upgrade the BBQ area which is so frequently used by community groups for good causes to make it an outstanding facility space that people can take pride in. For a city with so much money in the bank, there’s little being proposed for communitywide benefit that would upgrade the aesthetic quality of life for residents. Keep that in mind. Gilroyans deserve better and should demand an agenda from those running for public office. Let’s put that outlet mall sales tax money to good use. Maybe we should take all the annual sales tax money from the outlets and dedicate that to fund only Gilroy beautification projects. That could keep things in fiscal order and the priorities straight at City Hall. Hmmm … we would have money for projects like the Gilroy Arts Center. Ah, a perfect spot for a shameless plug: “Run for Your Wife” by Limelight Actors Theater, 7341 Monterey St. this weekend. Show’s at 8 p.m.
Reach Editor Mark Derry at [email protected]

Leave your comments