December 27, 2005 > Editorial:
Happy New Year
Happy New Year
Every year, as the calendar runs out of pages, I review the previous 12 months and wonder what the new calendar will hold at the end of the next dozen months. Our area is facing interesting challenges and significant opportunities that, I hope, will be well on their way to satisfying solutions in the year 2006. Here are some that immediately come to my mind.
Transportation and infrastructure improvements are on the way. Despite a period of budget cuts and setbacks, transit-oriented developments will move forward including Union City's Intermodal Station, the Dumbarton Rail Corridor and Option 2 of Highway 84 fame. I also believe that a BART/light rail connection to San Jose is inevitable and will make progress in 2006.
Support for the arts is expanding and will continue to play an important role in our communities. Lack of adequate artistic venues is notable and a serious flaw. We need to demonstrate that not only can we flex a powerful economic muscle, but convert that clout and harness the strength of cultural diversity to support and expand existing galleries and theaters.
Museums collect art, science and history artifacts give a sense of continuity. These institutions establish an identity and confirm community values. Many groups have valiantly preserved our history and promoted the artistic aspirations of our citizens. In fact, a new museum of natural history has come to life and a children's museum is in the works. We now need a collective organization, crossing municipal boundaries, to promote and preserve each and every gallery, museum, historic home and other notable site. A central focus for these efforts will create a sense of unity and common purpose.
Our climate and penchant for healthy living bode well for sports and outdoor activities. Newark boasts a new indoor swimming facility, Fremont has an outdoor swim facility in progress and Union City has begun construction of a new sports complex. Milpitas and Hayward provide additional opportunities for a myriad of sports including golf and swimming. Along with the East Bay Regional Park system (EBRP) and municipal parks, more new facilities are planned. The city of Newark has land set aside for a new golf course and new play spaces are also proposed in Fremont on Patterson Ranch property and by EBRP at a nearby quarry. Expanded facilities will include fields for sports such as cricket, brought with newer citizens. It is worth remembering that not so long ago soccer was relatively unknown to many in the United States.
What does all of this mean? It points to the growing strength of our communities and the beneficial catalytic effect of working together. A solution for the year 2006 is more regional action for efficient use of resources, not only to maximize economic potential, but strengthen our social fabric as well. I recently wrote about the need for a regional performing arts center and received numerous positive responses. This concept can easily be expanded to include additional areas of concern. The year 2006 marks Fremont's 50th anniversary. With the current concentration of fundraising, why not dedicate a portion of those funds to be used by a coalition of existing arts and preservation organizations as seed money for future endeavors such as a performing arts center?