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City, chamber look to gussy up shopping zone

September 21, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — At a special meeting of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Mayor Pro Tem John Renison spoke for the City Council, telling the assembled merchants, "It's time to do something about downtown."

Renison said, "We're going to hit it hard."

He mentioned the possibility the council could decide to create a "downtown mall" by closing First Street to traffic and bringing in some structures for shade.

He said the city would take the responsibility for fixing the lights downtown, although he acknowledged, "I don't know how yet."

"Some may ask, ‘Why is the city doing this?'" Renison said and then answered himself, "We're not really happy about (the) appearance right now."


To get the city and the merchants on the same page, Renison said there would be two "promotions" in the fall and three in the spring to showcase a cleaner and more presentable downtown. He called on merchants to help in the effort and "meet the council halfway."

Joe Moreno, manager of Apple Market-Super Shopping in downtown, said, "It's about time the city realizes the importance of the downtown. I'm glad the talking is stopping and results are about to get done. It's overdue."

He took exception with one thing Renison said.

"When you say the city needs to meet the merchants halfway, I think it is more like the city needs to meet us three-fourths of the way," Moreno said.

"There are some unhappy merchants. We need to see some results. Once you have shown us something we'll meet you halfway," he added.

Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, executive director of the chamber, said there has already been an effort on the chamber's part to help revitalize downtown.

"We're already working on it. We've sunk in $3,500 in advertising on TV," she said.

Renison addressed the two when he said, "When I said halfway I didn't mean the city chips in $10,000 and expects the merchants to chip in $10,000. We need to work in concert."

The chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, Tony Tirado, said he supports the idea of a downtown mall but said the merchants would have to go along with the plan before anything could be done.

"Let me tell you something. The best plan is First Street. That's the first impression, the first thing that people see when they cross the border," Tirado said.

"Let's say they do it. It could be very nice with people getting together and milling around," he added.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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