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July 24, 2007 > Editorial


Here it comes

The A's are coming to town and they will be putting on the equivalent of a basketball full-court press to implement a mixed-use development and ballpark. It will be fascinating to see how their high-powered negotiating team plans to mitigate some obvious obstacles such as traffic, transportation and impacts on the area infrastructure. It will also be interesting to find out if there has been or will be any attempt by the A's team or Fremont officials to communicate with surrounding cities and regional entities.

The Fremont Unified School District was finally able to attract the A's attention but was left to do this on its own. City government, when asked to take an active part, noted that legal restrictions barred such cooperation. This legal barrier doesn't seem to stop other municipalities from forming close ties and developing cooperative ventures with their school districts. Finally the Mayor has asked for guidance from staff of how the city might engage with their own school district. Although a belated attempt to do the obvious, at least he has finally figured out that infrastructure includes more than street maintenance.

So far, council's stance has been to remain aloof from these entities. Fremont's educational system has been held at arms length. Schools, by necessity, must plan to accommodate its population of students - elementary school attendance and feeder school impacts on junior and senior high schools - but realize that city actions can negate such carefully laid plans. Maybe Fremont's city council will finally understand this basic principle. Given the length of time it has taken to at least investigate the link between schools and the city, I guess regional cooperation and review of the A's plans might be too much to hope for with this group.

Will the council follow a familiar pattern of blind faith in future events, reacting to the results or simply ignoring them? The time for vague generalizations is coming to a close and specific details will soon reveal whether this area can look forward to a potential boon or disastrous boondoggle. It is painful to imagine that Fremont's council will simply wilt when put to the test, but this is the same group that blithely waived their fiscal responsibility to review changes exceeding $100,000 on the Fremont Bank - Aqua Adventure without prior review. The mantra of "downtown" has now been replaced by the letter "A." Hey it's the first letter of the alphabet and even councilmembers can get that far. While the Fremont City Council track record has been spotty and financial decisions leave much to be desired, there remains a glimmer of hope that some reason remains even with this star-struck crowd.

I would love to visit a ballpark in our own backyard. However, such developments come with a price tag and should be examined carefully with thorough public review before the bulldozers move in. How much redevelopment money will be allocated to this project? Will the Redevelopment Agency use this as a reason to exist beyond its designated lifespan? Show me a transparent process that satisfies major issues in a tough, yet realistic negotiation and I will be happy to bask in the bleachers, humming the Beatles song, "Here comes the sun." In that case, you will find me rooting for the home team even though any identity with Fremont will appear only as an afterthought. For those enthralled with the moniker "Fremont A's" it would be instructive to note the fate of the former Anaheim Angels, now named "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim." Check out the box scores and see if the word "Anaheim" appears at all!

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