April 5, 2011 > Fremont faces a 'year of adjustment'
Fremont faces a 'year of adjustment'
In a "State of the City" address hosted by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce May 30, Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman was hopeful but blunt about the challenges facing the fourth largest city in the Bay Area. Noting that a difficult working climate is the "new norm," Wasserman was clear that adjustments must be made especially in light of recent developments including closure of NUMMI, the apparent end of redevelopment agencies and purchase of strategic property around the old NUMMI site by Union Pacific Railroad.
New programs and services have been removed from consideration in next year's budget and less costly alternatives to current delivery models are being studied. Noting that City staff is a "great group" and have worked hard to shoulder an increasing burden, irrefutable City finances lead to the inescapable conclusion that current compensation cannot be supported. "The pension system has become unaffordable and our health care liabilities are more than we can handle," said Wasserman. "We simply must find ways to make the City sustainable."
The gloom and doom scenario brightened a bit as the mayor noted arrival of Tesla Motors at the old NUMMI facility with plans to begin manufacturing the Model S Sedan in 2012 as well as the presence of a strong nucleus of energy-related industries in "a thriving clean technology cluster." Fremont was highlighted in a video, "Clean, Green and Ready for the Future," at the 2010 Conference of the International City and County Management Association held in San Jose.
Decreasing violent crime statistics for the City of Fremont offer a positive perspective of an increasingly diverse population and Wasserman cited another bright spot, the financial health of Fremont's Waterpark that has maintained a positive cash flow.
Pacific Commons has shown strong growth as Any Mountain opened in time for ski season and KIA/Nissan dealership opened its doors as well. Nordstrom Rack just joined the cluster of big box stores and a 16-screen theater, Target store, and Toys R Us and Babies R Us are under construction.
Among future prospects of Fremont growth are plans for development of "Downtown/Midtown" and a Fremont Boulevard corridor as part of the "Character Element" of the new Fremont General Plan for 2030. The mayor noted goals for Fremont's future include significant emission reductions, a ban of plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, recycling of demolition and construction debris and stringent green building standards. He spoke about transportation changes including extension of BART under Central Park and Lake Elizabeth with eventual connections to San Jose. Service to the new Warm Springs Station should operational by mid-year 2015.
Mayor Wasserman concluded his remarks saying that though "topsy-turvy" with "heartbreaking disappointments," this year of adjustment is a time to "hang on" and promised, "We will!"