From an aesthetic viewpoint, Valley's ‘barren' quality needs a makeover

May 25, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

What can be done to make the Imperial Valley a more aesthetically pleasing place to live was the topic of a brainstorming session hosted by the county Thursday.

The theme is "Greening of the Valley."

County Executive Officer Ann Capela said the Valley has a certain "barren" quality to it, unlike other areas to which her local travels have taken her, like Palm Springs.

"Why can't we have that in Imperial County?" she said.

Capela suggested the group, which consisted of a number of public and private representatives, form a permanent committee to address the issue of improving the way the Valley looks and maybe hire somebody full-time to be responsible for following the matter.

The county's Sacramento lobbyist, Bill Dohring, said there is money in the state budget and through competitive grants for aesthetic improvement. He also said the county and cities will receive $1.294 million from a state bond for parks. Of that the county will get $536,000.


The county's Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Vern Highley, said there are funds available from the federal government, such as the U.S. Park Service and the Forestry Service.

A number of ideas were offered for improving the Valley's looks, including:

· planting of more shade trees, which will help reduce residents' electric bills

· the removal of weeds and trash

· better enforcement of landscaping ordinances

· the education of school children on the issues

· the use of "xeriscape," a landscaping technique that uses plants that have low water requirements, making them able to withstand extended periods of drought.

Capela asked the University of California Cooperative Extension to recommend suitable trees for the local soils.

County Air Pollution Control Officer Stephen Birdsall said there is some money available through the Air Pollution Control District and said his office is on the verge of announcing an agreement with a Valley city on the construction of a greenbelt. He also reminded the group that the county includes the areas of Winterhaven/Bard and Palo Verde.

Bob Ham, executive director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business and Assemblyman Dave Kelley's representative, said the group should ensure that as new highways are built or expanded, that irrigation and maintenance be included in the projects. Examples were Highway 7 and the Brawley bypass.

Sam Couchman, county director of the Office of Employment Training, said the group should take advantage of volunteerism. He said the county has several youth job-training programs that would fit nicely into the group's plans.

The next meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. July 13 in the County Administration Center, 940 W. Main St., El Centro.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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