CALEXICO -Lights dimmed and the multipurpose room became silent when Calexico Mayor John Moreno delivered the State of the City Address at Willie Moreno Jr. High School on Wednesday, April 16 as he presented Calexico residents a well-produced video in lieu of the traditional speech. The video featured Moreno as he strolled the city, highlighting various projects and speaking with city staff and officials about updates in their departments.
The event was a positive and hope-filled step as the city moves forward following times of city council inner strife and police department missteps that have resulted in outside investigations.
In the video, Mike Bostic, the Calexico Chief of Police who has been with the department for approximately six months, stated, “The worst is behind us. The department of justice will be helping us build the police department and provide the necessary training. They will assess, evaluate and work together to execute the plan. We are recruiting people, promoting sergeants and plan to hire in the next few months as well as bringing in former chiefs of police from San Jose and Chicago. I want to reassure the citizens of Calexico that we have a good department and the capability to move forward. I am really looking forward to a bright future.”
Calexico Fire Captain Damian Gonzalez, also gave a video taped update. “We have been very aggressive with fleet and apparatus,” Gonzalez said. “We acquired two brand new, state-of-the-art front line engines, one for each side of the city, as well as a newly built fire truck, number 91, built in Florida.”
In the next couple of years, the city will also add an additional fire station. “Our firemen are very passionate about their jobs; they have a team mentality and work well together. We want to reassure citizens that they are well protected,” Gonzalez said.
Major projects and street improvements have taken place this past year.
Nick Servin, Public Works Director stated, “Major projects include the expansion of the airport as well as completely re-done run ways and bridge at the new river. Anza Road was expanded as well as the resurfacing of Cole Road. Parkway projects starting up such as Mega Park, Palatzo, stores the new casino project and the four lane expansion of hwy 98. In addition a six million gallon water tank was built winning an ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) award. This now brings a total of ten million gallons of water stored.”
The City of Calexico has received over three million dollars in grants for first time buyers, housing rehabilitation and tenant based assistance programs.
Terri Nava, city housing manager, stated, “Newly developing projects include The Villa Primavera, a multi-family community with 48 units currently under construction and the Oasis development with over one hundred acres for single family homes, projects to be completed by early 2016.”
Calexico has spent over $220,000 in park upgrades which include picnic tables and benches, four ball field improvements and replacing of drinking fountains. Monies have been allocated to reconfigure Cordova Park with soccer courts, baseball diamonds and two little league fields. The new Calexico Municipal pool is also scheduled to open within one year.
City Finance Director John Quinn, said, “We have a balanced budget this year, and next fiscal year will also be very balanced. We are looking to obtain sales revenue from The Grand Plaza sales tax and other areas.”
The Grand Plaza outlets are scheduled for expansion in June, creating over 2,600 jobs and stimulating the border economy. “This is the most important development in all Imperial County,” said City Manager Richard Warne.
In addition, construction of the new United States port of entry is also scheduled to commence this year.
”Calexico has a very bright future but most importantly, the residents need to come together and bring new ideas to the table,” said Moreno as the twenty minute video ended. Citizens gave John Moreno a standing ovation for his presentation.
The night ended with The City of Calexico’s 107 Anniversary recognition of past and present individuals for their contributions to building the city’s varied recreation programs with a reception following.