Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

September 27, 2005 > Editorial: Twenty years is a long time

Editorial: Twenty years is a long time

Twenty years is a long time

Out of Africa won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor was William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman and Geraldine Page received the most votes for Best Actress for The Trip to Bountiful. Are you a little foggy in remembering these pictures? Maybe reviewing the list of nominees for Best Picture will help; Prizzi's Honor, Witness, The Color Purple. Are things clearer now? The year was 1985, twenty years ago.

Twenty years is a long time.

It is the span that guides people from infancy to adulthood. This is the same interval that the Fremont city council is talking about when addressing the issues surrounding a "downtown." Twenty years ago, the concepts of "smart growth" and "Transit-Oriented Development" were either nonexistent or at least not part of the urban planning lexicon of the time. However, concerns were being expressed and seriously addressed in the planning community of how to best respond to growth and collateral damage to environment and existing city infrastructure.

Twenty years is a long time.

To wrestle with what will be popular or on the cutting edge of planning in two decades is a tricky business at best. It may be more prudent for the council to listen to its citizens rather than a group of out-of-town experts who will be here today to collect their check and gone tomorrow, espousing whatever is the next hot planning concept. The Future Team of the Celebrate Fremont Committee is planning outreach meetings for citizens to express their ideas and concerns. This is a grass roots effort and for that reason, may be less susceptible to governmental interference or direction and more likely to expose the will of the people. Once citizen priorities are established, planners can apply their training and expertise to resolve matters of design, cost and construction. For now, discussion should be wide open on the vision of Fremont, including thoughts of a downtown, for the next 50 years.

Twenty years is a long time.

Or is it? Can the planning be flexible enough to accommodate the creation of a future that refuses to be categorized at any one point in time? Will the vision be strong enough to override the conventional wisdom and economic stresses of the present? Mayor Wasserman raised concerns of overpowering retail development with residential growth in the proposed downtown area. Are planners and developers too concerned with simply satisfying present economic factors to gaze beyond contemporary data? Even to laymen, changes in planning philosophy are evident, moving from emphasis on office, retail or residential. Often planning perspectives depend on what portion of a boom or bust cycle is used as a reference. Just like the weather in some parts of the country, if you wait a bit, there will be change. Once bustling offices may grow silent and then fill again.

The Central Business District Concept Plan adopted November 6, 2001 states, "The explosive successes of the high-tech and bio-tech industries continue to fuel economic expansion in the region, and Fremont has recently come to be an integral part of the Silicon Valley economy." Explosions often result in a bright and dazzling display followed by a subsequent view of the destruction hidden by the noise and light.

Twenty years is a long time.

The concept plan lays out valuable ideas to include in any discussion of the factors for a downtown. Any new development within the area should adhere to a vision for the future, yet even now when a new project is being proposed on Walnut Avenue, there is no clear indication that guidelines exist and their importance to coherently assemble the downtown. Where should retail be placed? How much is enough? What type of businesses will occupy retail spaces? Are landlords willing to wait for the right tenant mix? It is hard to be the first in the area since risk is high and timelines can be lengthy. It is here that the city needs to show leadership and resolve.

Twenty years is a long time.

Money and time is currently being spent on the downtown, also known as Central Business District and Superblock, when the districts have languished. It has taken a decade or more for Fremont to articulate a vision of and demonstrate action for the Centerville area. The development of the district will be a benchmark for Fremont. Centerville Market Place will soon move from a concept to reality and test the vision of Fremont leadership. Charter Development won the contract with pretty pictures despite citizen and staff recommendations,. The time is approaching for steel and concrete to replace the promises. Will the judgment of the council be vindicated? Should the success of this development be required as a precursor to any downtown plans? The city council has been spending time and money on the "downtown" and yet, so far, we have a concept plan from 2001 and not much else. If the Centerville project is a rousing success, it would certainly go a long way toward instilling confidence in additional long-range planning.

Twenty years is a long time.

What if you were asked to peek into the future and envision the perfect city without regard to location, financial restraints or demographics? A clean slate would allow consideration of why certain aspects of a city attract residency and tourism. Make a list of the factors that would influence you and your family to live in or visit a city. What is the greatest city on earth and why is it so? Why do you visit some places more often than others? In what type of environment do you want to live in 20 years? Most great concepts and actions begin with a dream. A unified vision and the determination to make it so can create a model of what we, the citizens, want for our area. The mechanism now exists to make your thoughts known. Go to and visit the future team's page. Send a message to the planners.

About Us   Current Issues   Press Dates   Archived Issues   Ad Rates   Classifieds  
Shopping & Dining Guide   Local Events   Your Comments   Subscribe  

Tri Cities Voice What's Happening - click to return to home page

Copyright© 2005 Tri-City Voice
Advertise in What's Happening - A Guide to the Tri-City Area Return to Tri-City Voice Home Page E-mail the Tri-City Voice About the Tri-City Voice Read a current issue of the Tri-City Voice online Archived Issues of the Tri-City Voice Tri-City Voice Advertising rates Dining and Shopping in the Tri-City Area Events in the Tri-City area Tell us what you think Return to the Tri-City Voice Home Page Subscribe to the Tri-City Voice Press dates/Deadlines