It's something that's been forecast for years: City leaders, business advocates and residents alike have known that commercial development on the outskirts of town would one day pose a serious challenge to the viability of Brentwood's downtown core, and that something must be done to preserve it.
Well, that day has arrived. Although some new shops have opened of late, others have left, shrunk, or shut down completely. The crisis that many saw looming on the horizon has arrived on our doorstep, and that "something" must be done now.
That's why the Civic Center Five Year Financing and Phasing Plan adopted by the City Council last week is such good news. The plan will bring a new community center, city hall and council chambers to the downtown, along with a bigger library, new and expanded recreational facilities and hundreds of new parking places. Streets in the business core will also get a facelift, injecting new vitality into what many already consider the jewel of East County downtowns.
The City Council is to be commended for approving the plan, which is the result of years of work by city staff under the direction of City Manager Donna Landeros and her predecessors. In addition to the efforts and expertise of staff, the plan is the result of numerous meetings involving the Chamber of Commerce and the general public, all of whom should also get a pat on the back for what's been done so far.
Perhaps the most critical portion of the plan, however - even more important than the sparkling new amenities - is the timeline. The four-phase plan is expected to be executed between now and 2012, and although that might be cutting it close for some businesses, the plan should be completed in time to keep the heart of the Brentwood community beating.
But despite the urgency, care must still be taken. The $108 million price tag is a big one, and massive public works programs such as this have a way of getting out of hand. Residents can be proud that the city is in a position to accomplish it without passing new taxes, and should feel confident that the management skills of those in charge of pulling it off will keep things under control. Vigilance, however, should still be high, and oversight thorough.
That said, we offer our congratulations to the members of the public who contributed to the plan, to the staff that put it all together, and to the council for putting it in motion. There are many meetings yet to be held and much work yet to be done, but let's hope that Brentwood is on its way to a sparkling new downtown, brought in on time, and on budget.
Letters to the Editor
Summer N. Rodriguez
Director of Student Activities
English Department Chair
Liberty High School