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Downtown plaza will become El Centro Town Square

June 07, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency board, voted to name the new downtown plaza as the El Centro Town Square.

The name was suggested by a city employee and agreed to by an ad hoc committee of city staff members and downtown merchants. A "grand reopening" of Main Street is tentatively set for Nov. 17 at the square.

The RDA board approved a 73-unit affordable housing complex to be built on 19 acres behind Kmart. The $9 million complex will have two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and occupancy will be limited based on income. Building permits are expected to be drawn before the end of the year.

The City Council, meanwhile, was asked by the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp. and Imperial Resources LLC to support in concept the creation of an electrical power/ethanol facility locally.

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Brawley-area farmer Larry Fleming said the primary goal of Imperial Resources is to keep the Holly Sugar refinery in business in light of its parent company being in bankruptcy proceedings.

Fleming said a new crop — sugar cane — can be used to help keep the refinery running during those months when there are no sugar beets for processing. In addition, he said the waste product can be used to generate electricity for the local power grid and used to make ethanol. Ethanol, he said, will likely replace a gas additive being phased out.

"We're just talking about sugar, power and ethanol right now but it could expand in the future," Fleming said.

In other business, the council:

· voted to accept an American With Disabilities Act self-evaluation and transition plan report that identifies changes needed at city parks to bring them into ADA compliance. The total cost is in the range of $7.5 million over a number of years. The city will seek grants to help pay for needed changes.

· voted to sell treated water to the Sunset Mutual Water Co. for Sunset area residents and to support and administer a $483,531 U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to upgrade the water company's facilities. A bond will be floated among residents to repay the loan.

· voted to submit a $500,000 grant application to the state to develop bicycle and pedestrian pathways for schoolchildren. The city would have to come up with a $50,000 match.

· adopted a resolution in support of a $59,862 state funding request by the Imperial Valley Waste Management Board for the development of permanent used oil recycling centers.

· was given a detailed presentation on the status of grants being sought by the city.

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

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