Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Mayor Marie Blankley’s State of the City address. She will deliver the full talk in person on June 4 at 9:30am in the Gilroy City Council Chambers.
It is my pleasure to bring to you Gilroy’s 2022 State of the City address.
As you may know, I’m a lifelong Gilroy resident (since 1964), a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) of over 30 years, and parent of two adult children with my husband, Steve, all of whom are engineers. This is my fifth year on the Gilroy City Council, and my second as mayor. I’m honored to follow in Roberta Hughan’s footsteps as the second woman to be elected mayor of Gilroy in 150 years.
Our struggles are ever-present, and this past year was no exception, but we’ve also made some very positive strides and have much to look forward to.
• San Jose Sharks: We look forward to bringing a two-rink ice facility to the Gilroy Sports Park operated by Sharks Ice. As a city, we’ve done our part to this point. We hope to have a deal approved this year for which the Sharks anticipate an 18- to 24-month construction timeline to begin in early 2023.
• Recreation opportunities for the acreage surrounding Gilroy Gardens are finally a go to explore. We’ve received clearance from the Surplus Lands Act, giving us the green light to move forward with recreation development possibilities.
• Always the subject of something to improve upon, Gilroy’s downtown alleys will soon see significant changes thanks to a $3.9 million Clean California Local Grant from CalTrans. This money will make substantial capital improvements such as storm drains, lighting, pavement, and trash enclosures from Lewis Street to Seventh Street in the alley on the east side of the Monterey Street buildings, and also to the well-known Gourmet Alley from Fourth Street to Seventh Street. While PG&E may not be ready to place existing utility lines underground, conduit will now exist below the pavement to accommodate underground wires. These areas will be more bicycle and pedestrian friendly and will be closed to vehicular traffic (but for emergency and trash collection), welcoming pedestrian access and business/restaurant use of outdoor spaces in the alleys.
• We have applied for a $19.5 million federal grant to build a long-awaited bridge connecting the west end of 10th Street to Santa Teresa Boulevard to provide direct access to the growing population in the city’s southwest quadrant. The infamous 10th Street Bridge may actually become a reality with this grant that would cover 80% of the cost, and require the City to meet the remaining 20%.
• Equally exciting are two Letters of Support dated April 11, 2022 to Congressman Panetta from the Mobility Partnership of VTA and the Council of San Benito County Governments where we, southern Santa Clara County and northern San Benito County, jointly request funding for the design phase of Phase 2 improvements to the 101/25 interchange, and a $2 million request to begin initial work on that badly needed fourth lane on 101 south of Cochrane to continue the US 101 Silicon Valley Express Lanes Program through Gilroy. This would mean widening 101 in the median and installing express lanes electronic toll systems infrastructure to match what exists north of Morgan Hill through San Mateo County. $2 million is just a start, but it begins the process.
• As to housing itself, the nearly $1 billion in funding provided by the voters of Santa Clara County in 2016, known as Measure A, to address housing insecurities is being quickly consumed throughout the county. Gilroy has only one Measure A-funded housing development, the Gateway Apartments on Monterey Road built in 2018, comprised of 75 apartment units, 37 of which qualify as very low- income housing and 38 low-income. Santa Clara County owns a vacant parcel near the Gilroy Transit Center, and we’ve asked their Office of Supportive Housing to designate Measure A funding to build housing for our more marginalized population that we hope to secure before all of Measure A funds have been spoken for.
• The Gilroy City Council approved an additional $2 million in funding to improve our own city streets as part of a 5-year plan to stop the decline of pavement condition throughout the city.
Marie Blankley, CPA is the mayor of Gilroy.