Happy New Year, Gilroy! 2024 is sure to be a big year, beginning with a milestone birthday for me in February: 60 years old. Yikes! 2023 was a year of many accomplishments for Gilroy, and 2024 shows no less promise.
In 2023, we saw the certification of our Housing Element, that portion of our 2040 General Plan that must be certified every eight years by the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HCD has become increasingly particular with wording and commitments contained in these local jurisdiction documents to ensure that they foster statewide housing goals. Consequently, many California jurisdictions are still awaiting certification.
We saw the opening of several new businesses in our downtown and community events that attracted record numbers of people. We passed an ordinance to address health and safety concerns of mobile/sidewalk vending in public spaces. We sent to bid the construction project that will rehabilitate our downtown alleys into pedestrian-only pathways for strolling, dining, shopping and gathering. We began a Downtown Parking Management Plan and opened the new Seventh and Eigleberry parking lot for easy access to downtown.
Preparations to add two NHL-size ice rinks to the Gilroy Sports Park are underway. Most recently, we approved design documents to add a stoplight on Monterey Street at Monterey Frontage Road and improve the roadway all the way to the Sports Park entrance and, wait for it, the Gilroy Ice Center.
Our street improvements continued throughout the city for a second consecutive year, and a third begins shortly. We celebrated the addition of a fourth weekday commuter train from the Gilroy Transit Center and the return of weekday bus service to Salinas.
After four long years, the City of Gilroy and the Garlic Festival Association were released as defendants in the lawsuits filed from the 2019 Garlic Festival mass shooting incident. While grateful for this ruling, we remain a profoundly impacted community and empathetic towards all whose lives are forever changed.
In 2024, we have much to accomplish. The infamous 10th Street Bridge and elusive Santa Teresa Fire station top the list of overdue capital improvement projects. The 10th Street Bridge will see its third attempt at a federal grant application for the more than $20 million needed to construct. Environmental work has begun, the process from which yields more and more information that strengthens each grant application. Construction of our fourth fire station is the responsibility of the Glen Loma Corporation who has not yet begun construction, or dedicated the specified land to the City, or paid the dollar amount specified in the development agreement to allow the City to begin construction. As we pursue final resolution of this matter, modular buildings are being installed on city-owned property near the Christmas Hill Park ranch site that include elements necessary (sleeping quarters, shower, kitchen and office) for 24-hour staffing in the Santa Teresa Fire District.
Improving public safety, whether response to fire, medical emergencies or unlawful activity, is an ongoing effort with challenges shared statewide. As a top priority of your city council, expect much discussion in 2024 to better meet demand for these essential city services.
Two major roadway projects are in the works. Though actual construction at the 101/152/10th Street overcrossing is likely more than two years out, expect an additional lane in each direction on 10th Street extending from Camino Arroyo to Automall Parkway/Chestnut Street. Farther south on 101 at 25, construction improvements for this interchange should begin this Fall, a project likely to take three years to complete, followed by the extension of Santa Teresa Boulevard across Castro Valley Road and connecting at 101/25.
Undoubtedly the most exciting undertaking coming our way is the potential addition of a community center within a Civic Center Campus makeover on the three blocks between Church Street and Dowdy Street from Sixth to Seventh streets. Community discussions will help form a plan on what this makeover should include, and the voters will ultimately have the say in whether to pay for it. The existing condition of Wheeler auditorium (where I took gymnastics and ballet lessons in the 1970s!), the Senior Center, and the old police station hinder our ability to better utilize those spaces. When locating a multi-purpose community center, a gathering space for outdoor events, and facilities that meet demand for recreation and service programs for all ages (youth, adult and seniors alike), what better place than in the heart of the City on property we already own.
Let’s go, Gilroy! Bring on 2024!
For up-to-date city news and information, subscribe to the weekly Email Express on the home page of our website, cityofgilroy.org, or contact the city clerk at 408.846.0204. Happy New Year!
Marie Blankley, CPA is the mayor of Gilroy.