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Our Opinion: The BID makes sense

May 06, 2002

The El Centro City Council has approved the creation of a business improvement district to fund the maintenance of the city's downtown. We applaud the council and urge it to take the next step — creating a separate lighting and maintenance district.

Yes, the BID and the lighting and maintenance district appear similar and both mean business owners and property owners would pay assessments, but both the BID and the lighting district are necessary for downtown.

The city has spent a good deal of money in making upgrades to the downtown, but what has been done must be maintained and without funds to do that on a daily basis, all the money the city has spent will have been wasted.

More needs to be done. Lighting and promotions need to be addressed, as does an effort to attract more business to the area. That is why both the BID and the lighting and maintenance district are so essential. Revenues raised would fund the hiring of a director for the downtown area and that is a crucial position.

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A director could make sure the upgrades are kept up and, more important, work toward making the downtown an area where people will want to visit even more, both to shop and simply enjoy community activities.

Downtown El Centro has the potential to be even more of a gathering point, as it is during special events such as the ice cream social and the Farmers Market. There should be more events — at least one every month — that bring people downtown to see what it offers.

The area has been overshadowed in recent years by shopping centers and warehouse stores, but with the upgrades, downtown is experiencing a resurgence. Still, with proper leadership and with the a bit of money, it can get even better.

Downtown El Centro has an atmosphere that is ideal for shopping. It is quiet and safe. Shoppers can walk from one side of the street to the other without fear of being struck by fast moving traffic. There are specialty stores, restaurants and there is a park now that is attractive and a draw for people looking to relax.

Now it is time to push the downtown to the next level, to make the most of that family-style atmosphere by making sure funds are available to promote downtown and bring in more eateries, more entertainment-style businesses and enough variety of stores to make it a destination point in all Valley residents' minds.

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