Ash Street Undercrossing for Bicyclists Nearly Done

Construction of the Ash Street Undercrossing along the Escondido Creek bicycle and pedestrian pathway is complete and a grand opening is tentatively planned for May 19.  The entire 7.5-mile bike path, which extends from Harmony Grove Road to Lake Wohlford Road, serves as the major east-west spine of the Escondido bikeway system and provides a regional link to the Escondido Downtown Core, the Escondido Transit Station and Sprinter Light-Rail System, and the Inland Rail-Trail bike path.   The new undercrossing will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to maintain continuous and safe travel along the pathway without having to cross the busy surface street mid-block or leave the pathway to cross Ash Street a block away at either Valley Parkway or Washington Avenue.  A public art feature consisting of a bicycle mural etched into the new concrete channel retaining walls also is planned. 

Construction of the $2,042,983 project began in late August, 2011. The majority of the funding was made possible by a number of competitive Transportation Development Act (TDA) and Transnet grant funds the City received from SANDAG specifically to be used for bicycle and pedestrian related projects.  The underpass is one of several on-going projects designed to upgrade the channel, pathway and areas along the creek.

Watch for more details about the grand opening coming soon!

Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall meetings are a good way to give residents an opportunity to express their opinions and discuss their concerns in a less formal environment than regular council meetings. In fulfillment of one of my campaign promises, I held two Town Hall meetings in 2011, my first year of office.  Each meeting attracted close to 100 people.  At both meetings I reached out to our residents, listened to concerns, and responded to questions openly and honestly.

My next town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 2 at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 201 N. Broadway.  The meeting format will be an open question and answer period on any topic relating to local government.  This is your opportunity to share your views on the issues facing our City Council and to discuss any subject that matters to you or your business. We will follow up with the appropriate City department to resolve any issues.

I encourage you to attend and participate in the discussion, or even just say hello and introduce yourself.  Working together we can help Escondido become a better city.

Volunteer Appreciation Week

April 15-21 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. As Mayor, I recognize the invaluable contributions our volunteers make to our city. They perform essential and fulfilling work that benefits our community. Volunteers serve on boards and commissions and work in numerous departments throughout the City. We have volunteer opportunities at City Hall, Daley Ranch, the Library, Police and Fire, the Sports Center, the Joslyn Center and the Center for the Arts.

The Library has one of the largest groups of committed volunteers in the City. They support library activities and services by conducting children’s’ story time and many other programs. Library volunteers apply their technical and educational expertise as computer trainers and literacy tutors. The Friends of the Library are a dedicated group who operate the book store. There are many other volunteers who help in so many ways with daily operations.

The Library holds an annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon to honor these contributions. This past year, 242 volunteers and interns supported library programs and operations for a total of 34,469 hours. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, this equals $807,264 worth of community service! Our City is truly privileged to have such dedicated volunteers who give so much.

Enhanced Business Incentives in Escondido

I am pleased to announce that the Escondido City Council recently revived the Façade and Property Improvement Program to provide incentives to small businesses to improve their properties. It was first established in 1988 and focused on businesses in Escondido’s downtown.

Since its start, the program has grown to include all commercial districts within the City limits. To date, over 150 properties have taken advantage of this successful program, which has awarded over $900,000 in matching grant funds representing $9.8M in private investment. Our expanded program increases the maximum grant awards to twice their previous amounts (so a property with 150 linear feet of frontage can now qualify for up to $20,000 in grant funds), considers all public ways “frontage” so our businesses which have high visibility on alleyways can be eligible for additional funds and provides additional funds for our pedestrian-oriented areas like our historic Downtown and the Escondido Creek Trail. Escondido is committed to our business community’s success by providing tangible incentives to encourage private investment.

For more information about the Façade and Property Improvement Program, contact Michelle Geller in the City Manager’s Office at (760) 839-4587 or mgeller@escondido.org .