By Carol Marques
I was disappointed last week when I read a letter to the editor in the Dispatch which reinforced the negativity that is trending right now. The writer’s perceptions of the City of Gilroy lack the facts. Much of what he is concerned about has been addressed by the City Council over this past year and will have some very positive results for the citizens.
1. “Downtown is still a graveyard.” Let’s look at all the improvements that have been made to our buildings in downtown—millions of dollars spent on building renovations, new façades (the City Council approved façade grants to help business owners) and new paint. The pandemic slowed the leasing of these buildings but interest is picking up again. Plans for Gourmet Alley with a lot of outside dining, a plaza and arts center around 7th and Monterey streets, new breweries, wineries, plus many new eateries and shops promise an exciting 2021.
Currently, our existing restaurants rival those in surrounding cities. Instead of bemoaning the idea that nobody goes Downtown, invite friends to experience our dining and get people going down there. Before the pandemic, one could hear music playing from these restaurants and see people strolling up and down the sidewalks alongside the twinkling white lights.
2. “We need more parking.” Where has he been? The City Council approved months ago a 200-plus parking lot on Eigleberry and 7th Streets to accommodate all of the new businesses mentioned above. The money for this parking lot came from an undesignated fund for projects (not salaries) which would stimulate the Downtown economy creating extra funding through sales tax for the citizens for many years to come.
3. “Police allow the homeless to get away with crimes.” The police work within the letter of the law. Many years back, many laws were de-criminalized. Ask yourselves—“How is this de-criminalization working for you?” If you are a criminal—it is great. However, as a merchant or citizen—not so great. Instead of complaining about the situation, do something about it. Lobby your state legislators to get the legislature to overturn these laws and make people responsible for their criminal actions. Are you willing to get on board to help change these laws and make stealing once again a crime?
4. “We are still losing money at Gilroy Gardens.” I am the City Council liaison for the Gilroy Gardens Board. Prior to being closed by Covid, the Gardens was not only holding its own but putting money back into the property and new attractions like Water Oasis. We are looking forward to them re-opening in 2021 and bringing back 500 local jobs.
Once again, the writer does not realize that the City Council recently approved the Economic Development Partnership comprised of the Chamber of Commerce, Gilroy Downtown Business Association, Economic Development Corporation, Visit Gilroy, Gilroy Gardens and Gavilan College to make Gilroy a recreation destination center. The three City Council-approved initiatives that this partnership is working on are Gourmet Alley, the Sports Park and the 536 acres on which Gilroy Garden sits.
There is a lot of wasted energy in dwelling on negativity. Look for the positive and if one cannot find any positives, then become the solution. It is time to start making our world a better place!
Carol Marques is a member of the Gilroy City Council.