Mayor’s Corner: A very bright light at the end of the tunnel

By MAYOR DAN CLARK

On Dec. 17, 2013, the Department of Finance issued a Notice of Completion for the city of Ridgecrest’s successor agency. What this means is the $21,000,000 bond proceeds have been released. The city will be able to pave roads, invest in a number of economic development projects, and rehab some parks. The Department of Finance had tied up the bond monies due to a lawsuit between the city of Ridgecrest and the state of California. For three and a half years, the city has not been allowed to fulfill its obligation to invest the bond proceeds.

The Notice of Completion changes all that. Your council now has the responsibility to review and reassess projects from a priority list developed five years ago. That’s where you come in! We have an established Pavement Management System, and within this document, a prioritized list of streets in need of repair. We will hold public meetings to discuss the list, shovel-ready projects and micro-paving of specific streets.

I am estimating that about $13 million will be spent on infrastructure, much of it in the next two years. On top of this good news, our own West Ridgecrest Boulevard will see a total make-over beginning in March and concluding approximately 200 days later. This project will come from a different pot of money, but it is still another bright light. Just imagine, Sunland and Downs streets improved, and Ridgecrest Boulevard finally completed between China Lake Boulevard and Mahan Street and numerous streets micro-paved. The light just keeps getting brighter and brighter.

Our parks will see an influx of monies and improvements. Our parks supervisor will share his assessment of the needs for that department with council, and community input will be critical. I invite you all to share your thoughts.

Last but certainly not least, let’s examine economic development. In the first quarter of the year, we will experience several additions to our community. Three new shopping establishments will open for business: Famous Footwear, Marshals, and Joann’s Fabrics. I can only speculate at this point, but I believe a new restaurant may also be opening in the first quarter, and perhaps an unnamed super center will have a ground breaking! The Sierra Sands Unified School District will probably host a groundbreaking of the new Murray Middle School in the first quarter of the year with the construction time line to be determined.

On top of everything else, the residual effect of all the Cal UAS activity will mean strong economic growth for all segments of our community.

0n Nov. 13-16, 2014, the city and the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau will host a signature event, the Rock Art Festival — commonly called the Petroglyph Festival. This event may become the economic driver Ridgecrest needs to capture substantial new revenue for our community. The light will truly be shining on our community. Our future looks promising, and for that I am thankful.

Ridgecrest truly is a very bright place to be!

Story First Published: 2014-01-08