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Our Opinion: Security a need downtown

May 10, 2001

It is sad to think there are those who care so little about the city in which they live that they deface property that is not their own.

It is almost a shame that we are writing this editorial because we are sure there are those punks that will consider this edit part of the glory of their criminal pursuits. That is if those people read, which is a big if.

Still, this is a problem that must be discussed and we are pleased to see the city of El Centro is doing so. The city has spent a great deal of money to upgrade its downtown. Beautiful gateways have been built on Main Street at Fourth and Eighth streets, the landscape and parking have been improved and a central plaza has been built in the 700 block of Main Street. And there is more to come.

Unfortunately, the downtown improvements have been plagued by those who think the area is their personal canvas to spray paint.

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What it comes down to is someone is going to have to pay to protect downtown. It is unfortunate, but there has to be security, and that costs money.

There likely is going to have to be some kind of business improvement district in which businesses in the area pay into a fund that will cover the cost of security and maintaining the downtown improvements. We are sure that is not pleasing to business owners, but the city cannot cover all the costs on its own indefinitely. It needs help. The city manager has suggested the city might cover lighting and maintenance costs for a couple years if the downtown property owners would commit to establishing a lighting and maintenance district thereafter, but no formal agreement has been reached.

We understand there are business owners who do not want to hear about a business improvement or lighting and maintenance district, but the downtown recovery program will falter without it. The graffiti and vandalism will continue. The landscaping will shrivel up. There will be no more improvements.

This downtown upgrade requires a complete commitment. It is time to commit to that, including a building facade improvement project in which businesses will actually participate in large numbers.

In the meantime, it is up to those who care to find a way to control the problem.

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