El Centro reopens Town Square with an all-day celebration

November 18, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

Bands and a barbecue marked the city's reopening celebration Saturday of its Town Square on the southeast corner of Main and Seventh streets.

The all-day celebration included children's activities and entertainment and live music by the Imperial Valley College Estudiantina jazz band and Valley Jazz.

"This is only one part of a comprehensive redevelopment," El Centro Mayor Cheryl Walker said to a crowd gathered on the Town Square lawn.


The project was originally bid at $3.6 million but the city uncovered two underground fuel tanks that had to be tested and removed, Walker said. Removing the tanks and a few other problems added another $1.2 million to the project, she said.

"We're not done. This is never-ending," El Centro Mayor Pro Tem Larry Grogan said. "But the Town Square is the focal point, the show piece."

The downtown's landscaping and entryways were designed by chief architect Keith Gurnee of RRM Design Group of San Luis Obispo.

Gurnee said he understands some of the challenges the downtown faces.

"The day I signed my contract here in El Centro, it was 113 degrees at 10 p.m.," Gurnee said.

He said he needed to include the water fountain, drought-resistant trees and plants in the landscaping and covered sidewalks to make the downtown area inviting during hot summer days.

"This has already started some revitalization in the downtown," Gurnee said. "Some businesses are repainting their storefronts. It's the start of something, not the end."

Grogan said future downtown redevelopment plans might include a food court and restrooms.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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