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$100,000 set aside to construct four welcome monuments

January 10, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Incorporating a sphere atop a cone to represent the sun and its life-giving rays as well as a map of both California and Baja California, city officials hope such images displayed for all to see will reflect the progressive attitude of this border city.

On Tuesday, the Calexico City Council, seated as the Redevelopment Agency, approved unanimously a budget between $100,000 and $150,000 for the construction, installation, design and other issues associated with four concrete monuments welcoming motorists and pedestrians to Calexico.

The signs — about 16 feet long and 12 feet high — will likely be placed at the intersection of Cole Road and Highway 98 in the east; Jasper Road and Highway 111 in the north; either at 98 and the All-American Canal or the New River area in the west; and in border park, just outside the downtown Calexico Port of Entry, in the southernmost section of Calexico.

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Calexico-based architect Kent Hems of Design Strategies presented the council with three conceptual renderings Tuesday, incorporating various styles and themes.

While no official decision was made on a design concept, the consensus of the council expressed its pleasure with a design Hems described as a "more contemporary feel."

Hems said the sphere represented the sun and its importance to Imperial County's agriculturally-based economy. He added the use of both California and Baja California maps shows the binational flavor of the region, as does the included slogan: "Gateway to Mexico."

What's more, the "C" in the sign's "Calexico" surrounds the exact point where the city falls on the map, Hems said.

Hems and Redevelopment Agency Project Manager Juan Verdugo, who have both been working on this for some weeks, hope to incorporate both lighting and water elements into the monuments.

Said Calexico Mayor Javier Alatorre of the monument preferred by the council: "It really is a reflection of the new image of Calexico.

"I think it's about time we go ahead and make a commitment and make this happen," he added.

Calexico City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said to Hems, "These are excellent schematics and options you have presented to us."

To forward the project, councilman Victor Carrillo suggested a budget between $100,000 and $150,000 to get the signs done.

Still, there is much work to be done.

Hems said next week he will receive maps from the state Department of Transportation in an effort to see how many of the chosen locations are within Caltrans rights-of-way, which he indicated would be positive. Three of the signs are near state highways 98 or 111.

Hems said there is a permitting process available by which municipalities or county governments can place such signs or monuments within Caltrans' right-of-way. Hems added Caltrans officials informed him Heber has requested such a sign while various San Diego cities have also gone a similar route.

Further, if water and lighting elements are to be included at the monuments, there is the cost of bringing out electrical and water utilities to the site.

The cost of each sign, which will be concrete poured in pieces by a Wisconsin firm and assembled on site, would be about $25,000.

Hems said the largest cost would be the creation of a mold in which to cast the concrete.

Carrillo said, "It would behoove us to promote the city in the best possible way … promoting the city in all possible ways, from south to the border and all east, west and north arterials into the city."

In other Redevelopment Agency business:

· the council approved a $93,836.95 expenditure, entering into a six-month rental agreement with Tennant Co. for specialized scrubbing equipment to clean downtown sidewalks and alleys.

While the city has been operating the cleanup program for more than a year, city staff said a meeting with the Calexico Business Improvement District will occur in the coming week to see if it can take over the program in some fashion;

· Alatorre and Carrillo presented head coach Jaime Santos and his Vincent Memorial High School varsity football team with a plaque honoring the team and its coach for an outstanding season, which saw the team advance to the San Diego section Division IV semi-finals.

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