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Imperial approves activation of Redevelopment Agency

June 21, 2002|By VANESSA DE LA TORRE

Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — After two decades, the City Council here has taken the steps necessary to activate the city Redevelopment Agency, a move that eventually will aid Imperial in its efforts to bring business growth.

On Wednesday, the council voted 3-0 to accept what is known as a redevelopment plan to submit to the state to formally activate the RDA, which the city established in 1980.

City Manager Vince Long said within 60 days the RDA is expected to be activated with about 55 percent of the city designated as part of the RDA project area.


Long said while the city has had an RDA since 1980, city officials had never taken the steps necessary to activate the agency under state statutes that regulate the formation of RDAs.

Because some of the council members live within the designated RDA project area — creating a property interest conflict — three were selected by lot to vote on the redevelopment plan: Mayor Doug Cox and councilmen Geoff Dale and Mark Gran.

The plan is geared toward promoting the health, safety and welfare of city residents by eliminating and restoring buildings that are considered "a serious physical and economic burden on the city."

Funding for the RDA comes from tax revenue raised through growth occurring in the redevelopment project area. It could take five to 10 years to raise funds for the RDA.

However, Long said there are steps the RDA can take to try to make funding available sooner. RDA funding can be used to improve areas of blight in a community and to support business development.

In other business, the council discussed financing options for rehabilitating the existing city library and constructing a new youth services library, community center and making Eager Park fully handicapped-accessible.

The cost of the park project would be about $150,000. Long said the city already had received a $102,000 state grant for that project.

The project to rehabilitate the existing while adding a youth services library and community center all within one building would be about $667,000.

The city is considering funding the project through bond financing. Gary Ur, a financial adviser for the city, said Imperial was in "healthy shape" to finance the project.

Long said the new additions to the city will be an integral instrument in revitalizing downtown.

"It will create an environment so that people will want to come downtown more and use the library more," he said, adding the project will improve Imperial's "educational and entertainment level" and will bring "a sense of togetherness" for its people.

The youth services library will be built adjacent to the existing library and will be linked with the community center all within one building. Long said the Boy Scout hut and Lion's Club will be demolished in order to make room for their future home in the new center.

On the Eager Park project, Long said a stage would be built to hold large events.

At the end of the meeting, the council brainstormed goals it wanted to accomplish for the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

Its top priority was construction of the new city library and community center, followed by the RDA's improvement of downtown aesthetics through landscaping and removing blighted buildings and continued progress on the parks master plan.

The council also looked to strengthen its relationship with the Imperial Chamber of Commerce, upgrade the bicycle pathway along Dahlia Canal, form a campaign for attracting retail businesses, improve the gateway signage program, work on efforts to relocate the county airport and pursue additional annexations, including that of Centinela State Prison in conjunction with the city of El

Centro and Imperial County.

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