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Our Opinion: Turn words into action

January 25, 2002

El Centro Mayor Larry Grogan recently gave a state-of-the-city address to business leaders and community members. It was a good speech to kick off his one-year term as mayor. It showed he and his fellow council members are thinking about a future filled with growth and progress, both for the city and the Imperial Valley as a whole.

But words, no matter how strong, are not enough. They must be followed by action. That is what we want to see in the next year, particularly on the issue of building an Imperial Avenue overpass that would allow traffic to move more easily south of Interstate 8, where a great deal of housing development is being done.

The Imperial Avenue overpass project has been talked about for decades as a crucial step for the city and yet it has not come to fruition because of various obstacles. El Centro is ready to grow, and it cannot afford to allow a lack of traffic arteries to stem that growth.

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We are confident this council, with $6.5 million in hand for the design and purchase of rights-of-way for the project, is united enough to make the overpass a reality, and we believe the council will take steps in that direction in the next year. That seems to be the goal Grogan spoke of in his speech. Now it's time for Grogan and the council to focus on that project. We don't want it to continue to be a topic of discussion a decade from now.

The overpass was not Grogan's only topic. He spoke of the need to form a business district in downtown El Centro, where the city has spent $5 million on renovations and the building of a gathering spot.

We agree with the idea of forming such a district, at least in concept. The idea was pushed a number of years ago and was not approved. Maybe that was not the right time. Now it is. The downtown upgrades need to be maintained and even taken a few steps further, and there is a cost to that. As long as such a business district is not too costly for businesses, it is a good idea.

Money raised through the formation of a district could pay for the hiring of a manager to promote downtown and organize more events such as farmers markets and ice cream socials. The district also would provide funds for better lighting and maintenance for the area.

We hope the idea of a business district is not a controversial matter and that the City Council, led by Grogan, can be united on the issue.

Grogan has built a reputation as being a man who does what he says he's going to do. He has said what he is going to do as mayor for the next year. Now is the time to do it.

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