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What's the alternative?

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Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:00 pm

It's really fascinating to see positions taken by those for Measure W and those against.

For many years, I have been involved in development throughout the Valley. In most cities, redevelopment districts are used as a valuable tool to improve areas that otherwise would be ignored.

What surprises me more is the position taken by our former mayor. Here she has an opportunity to utilize a financing tool to improve the area she champions, but chooses not to do so. What is her alternative?

I was fortunate to have some time to watch "California Gold," produced by Huell Howser. The segment featured the benefits of redevelopment.

You may have never heard of a neighborhood with the name Alkali Flats, but it's Sacramento's oldest and has gone through an amazing renaissance. Once a derelict area filled with falling down Victorians, it's now the pride of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.

Huell starts his visit among some painted Victorian homes that now rival any in San Francisco, and then he's off to the old Globe Mills flour plant, which was considered "the" blight of the neighborhood. It is now the jewel in the crown. The architects did an incredible job of turning an old mill into amazing loft-style apartments. The developer also added over a hundred units of low-income senior housing, which filled an important void in the community.

The project is not complete and has much more for the community in its long-range plan.

The Sacramento project is just one of many up and down the state that received assistance from a Redevelopment Agency. Currently, the city of Lodi and many of our surrounding communities are in need of financial assistance. A vote against Measure W eliminates our ability to use the Redevelopment Agency as a tool to benefit the city as a whole.

As I see it, if we do not approve Measure W, we will be dependent on our General Fund to finance needed infrastructure and improvements on the areas currently designated by the Redevelopment District. Comparing our city to others, those funds are not there and won't be for the foreseeable future. Don't forget the millions we are paying for the TCE cleanup over the next how many years.

I support Measure W and encourage you to do so as well. I respect those of you opposed to this issue, but again, challenge you to provide an equal alternative.

Russ Munson


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