Looking forward to 2013, let’s take a minute to consider what improvements could come to Concord. While most of the ideas of those running for the open Concord City Council seats in 2012 could be categorized as “promises in the dark”, one point that virtually every candidate agreed upon was bringing more jobs and tax revenues to the city.
The general idea is to attract tourists and outsiders to our city so they will spend money with Merchants raising tax revenues and creating new jobs. So that current City Council members and those where elected November 6th won’t forget, here are my top 10 ideas of how to improve the local business climate.
- Build with the co-operation of a private-public partnership a soccer complex on the opposite side of Oliviera where the softball fields are. This project that has been proposed from when Mark Peterson was mayor would consist of 6 soccer fields, stores, a restaurant, sports equipment sales and a small meeting room, would be a catalyst to bring in coveted tournaments on the weekends. It is believed these tournaments would result in visitors hanging out in Concord spending money in restaurants, lodging, retail shopping etc…
- Ditto for softball fields facing this complex. While there is little room to expand these fields, it might be possible to share some facilities with the new soccer complex to accommodate larger regional and national events. Correspondingly, some of the softball fields can be made available to the soccer folks should they need extra fields for larger tournaments.
Comment — The reason I like this model is that it is already working. The maintenance and upkeep of the existing softball fields is already being paid for by the recreational leagues the City of Concord operates. Expanding this model by putting in the soccer complex will be a catalyst to bring more family activities to the City.
But “wait there’s more” in this plan to build on current Weapons Station real estate. I would like the city to build a couple of large structures to accommodate activities for organizations and groups. These buildings of between 10,000 to 15 000 feet would be the venues for dog and cat shows, hobbyists, organizations and others who require large meeting rooms and facilities. Currently these types of events are being held in the Fairgrounds in Vallejo and Pleasanton. These places are expensive and qualify as “dumps.” Building a couple of buildings as part of the soccer development master plan makes sense for the future as they would be magnets to bring visitors to our fair city.
3. Be nice to the auto dealers as they are a large source of tax revenue to the City. Whatever can be done to make the dealer area more attractive is worth pursuing. Don’t take them for granted.
4. The new Concord Weapons Depot land needs to be business friendly. Locals should not allow “environmental wackos” from determining what businesses reside in the area. Much like what Concord did in enticing Frye’s Electronics and Costco to move in to our community, corporations and businesses should be recruited to build office and manufacturing facilities in this area. Were this done, property tax revenues would improve for the rest of Concord as real estate values would increase.
5. Keep Todos Santos a happy place with a lot of events and shows that do our town proud. While there are improvements to be made, it is important to keep parking free in order to discourage those who want to live closer to the Walnut Creek border.
6. With redevelopment funds being likely dead for the next decade, there is little government can do to deal with urban blight as can be found on the Monument Corridor. As such, the best the City Council can probably do is encouraging private enterprise to invest in distressed areas. A key to this is having a business friendly City Council who will quickly approve worthwhile projects and cut government “red tape”.
7. Pray for an agreement with the property owners at Park and Shop to modernize this antiquated shopping area that looks like a shanty compared with the businesses found in downtown Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek. I am told that many of those who control the property at Park and Shop have no desire to change anything as the development is already profitable. Not sure there is anything we can do but we can always ask
8. Change the status of Valerie Barone from Acting City Manager to the head job. From her previous work with the City and her short stint taking the place of Dan Keen, Barone has demonstrated the leadership skills, understanding of city operations and technical expertise to handle the permanent City Manager’s job. Getting this done is a “no brainer” and should be the first priority of the newly elected City Council.
9. This might sound odd but the supposed catalyst of business in Concord, the Chamber of Commerce has been without an executive director for over two years. While the professional staff and members have done their best, the Concord Chamber is missing leadership in pushing forward a pro-business agenda. It is commendable that the Executive Board of the Chamber has conserved funds by not having an Executive Director, but this needs to be changed soon if this organization is going to stay relevant.
10. Get better acts for the Concord Pavilion. While the cities contract with Live Nation does not allow for which entertainers are booked in the facility, something should be done improve the quality of what appears there. We all know that for years, the Shoreline in Mountain View has got the most popular headliners while the Sleep Train Pavilion continues to book old bands, Indian Casino acts, County Fair type of entertainers, and groups I know. Not Good. The City needs to press the promoters to get better shows that bring more people to our town.