The good, the bad and the beautiful

By Carolyn Barbre

Mayor Ed Murray: I see a lot of very positive things. We're going to start having activities at Sweet Brier Plaza on a regular basis in the spring. We will pick a night and have activities every week on that night. It will create a lot of excitement and activities downtown.

We will start construction on the Wellness Center this coming year. The architects are in the process of drawing the plans on that right now. I expect it to go out to bid in February or March and start construction in June or July. That's my hope anyway.

It's anticipated that we will come up with a plan for redoing the downtown streets. And we should start construction on that this coming year. We're also developing a plan to try to upgrade and maintain all the streets in the city. We're presenting that to the public this coming year.

Those are the main things that will be taking place, but there will be other things too. I'm looking forward to construction of a library this coming year. And I assume the Cultural Arts Council will probably get underway with their building.

The lights coming into town should be completed in the next month or 60 days. Some of the big palm trees were lighted on one side and some on the opposite side. They said we need more street lights. I said no, light both sides, so when entering or exiting the city they will be absolutely beautiful. That's why they're not on now.

It's nice to see the energy and excitement of the people with all these things taking place. I've seen more excitement in the last 60 to 90 days than I have for years, about the positive things happening.

On the November ballot: I plan on running again. I do enjoy it. Somebody said I like people - I keep it casual - I like that.

Mayor Pro Tem Pam Kimball: There are a lot of good things. It's kind of a worrisome year because of the budget uncertainties. I'm looking forward to the Sweet Brier dedication and putting that facility to use. We're completing our plans for the downtown. I don't know how much we'll be able to put into motion, but we can solidify our plans. Also, the same thing with the Wellness Center, to solidify our plans, how we're going to do that.

I look forward to how we're going to improve our city streets. We're making progress on that. Hopefully we can build on the spirit of optimism that I think we have going, that the city can be improved and become a better place to live.

On the November ballot: I'm up for re-election and I do plan to run and continue to be part of seeing all these plans and hopes and projects come together.

President-elect of the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce Paul Gottschall: I see a lot of belt tightening ahead and I see a lot of activity that we have ongoing. We're still pursuing a lot of the plan consultant Ron Cano suggested which involved downtown development. But it's more positive. We're trying to encourage cooperation. We want the team attitude. That's the key to make a program successful. You have to get that buy-in from the participants.

We're also continuing on with the mural program. But I see a change in the way we have to do them

We've had an aggressive program and accomplished a lot in a very short period of time. We're slowing down just to regroup and refocus on several areas we want to focus on historically - the Boy Scout mural and biplane mural. We want to be sure the city is on board with us.

There is a lot of downtown beautification going on as well as infrastructure the city is pursuing. We're going to be involved with the city from the business point of view. We still believe in the Team Lindsay concept that the city council and Scot both believe in so we're part of that team and will continue as such.

I think we have a lot of great people involved. We have a lot of history to capture. We're refocusing to include the city council more than we have in the past.

Director of Public Safety Bert Garzelli: I think in 2004 we're going to see a lot of struggling with the budget and trying to get the resources to get the job done. We still don't know what the state will do with the VLF [vehicle licensing fee] issue, and until that's done, it's very difficult to do any long range planning.

The COPPS program is going very, very well. We will have fewer people this year, down three sworn positions and three civilian positions including two community service officers and one of the records clerks, in response to budget cuts. We're holding our staffing there, but believe we will have enough overtime funding to keep COPPS [Community Oriented Policing and Program Sharing] funding at the current level.

We're authorized to have 18 sworn police positions, three full time fire positions and seven civilian positions within the police department and three civilian positions in animal control, so we've taken a pretty substantial hit in personnel. It's about the only way we can continue to function and still address the things the city manger and city council want us to address citywide given the funding we've lost.

City of Lindsay Finance Director Kenny Walker: The good would be a definite goal has been set by the city council and our city manager, and I think, as a department head and city employee, we have a very clear vision where the city council want us to be in the next year, two years, three years - we know exactly what the target is. And I believe with their guidance we will get to that point.

An example is roads. They want to see roads done.

The bad is the State of California in that it is the unknown. It would make a world of difference if they would just tell us what the bottom line is. The governor has come through by declaring the fiscal emergency this month, backfilling our motor vehicle license fees for the month of December. It's $40,000 we would not have gotten in general fund money if he had not declared a state of emergency. I believe that Gov. Schwarzenegger will fulfill his promise to hold local governments harmless. I believe he will fulfill his promise to not balance the state budget on the back of local governments.

We know exactly where we're going and I believe we will get there. There is no doubt in my mind we will get there in spite of the State of California. We will attain those goals. The current city manager will not allow that. The city council will not allow that. We will do what is necessary to reach our goals.

City Planner Tom Richey: I hate to do this, but think I will defer this question to Scot Townsend, because it's in reference to the council and what they see taking place.

City Manager Scot Townsend: I think these are great and exciting times for Lindsay and I say that despite the budget woes we have with the state. The main reason is we have a very identified vision of what we're going to do this year and succeeding years. A number of exciting projects are taking place from new streetscapes to several private projects and a couple of other public projects. These include a new library, the cultural arts center, and a sports court we're going to do downtown. We have funding for the majority of these projects already.

Architects are working on the Wellness Center plan now. We'll probably start construction in the fall, 2004. That project is broader and bigger because we're talking about the whole park area now, essentially the revitalization of the golf course, soccer field, community pool and the whole hospital. We're talking about reworking it to make an extremely valuable community asset when we're finished. It's been an asset to have this little nine-hole course. We have had irrigation system problems and tree trimming problems. We will see improvements in the whole area and we're well on our way. Ultimately we will probably spend $12-$15 million in that whole area. We are ready to start with phase 1, up to the $7 million mark.

The other big issue I'm excited about - we're really going to make a major effort for streets. The council really wants to make that commitment. We have had a major study session about the streets. We're doing quite a bit with the sidewalks because of outside funding. We're going to look at ways of reallocating resources toward streets and we're going to come up with a plan that comprehensively will take care of it. We will do as independently as we can. We will look to ourselves to fund this. It's of importance to every property owner in town - the whole town. It affects the whole way you see your community.

Obviously we've made a major commitment to downtown. People's reactions are very positive. More positive things have been said about the city in last six months than the rest of my 17 years here. People react to beauty. It took a long time to get there. I want to continue that, to upgrade the physical appearance of this community. We will see more evidence of this 2004, enhancing of attributes and continuing in subsequent years. I say that while having no idea what's happening with the state. But we will do whatever it takes.

The state budget is the worrisome thing, the uncertainty of it all, having no control over it. Everyone seems to be blaming everyone else. We just want to improve our community, and want a stable source of funding to do that. I don't care about the politics of the state.

Reallocating will mean eliminating some positions in the city. We will decide in the budget revision process.

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