Time ripe for focus on downtown
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Feb 28, 2013 | 713 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
Ron Swift
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Now that Walmart has opened its doors, it’s time for Patterson to get serious about resurrecting its unique downtown business district.

Pattersonites have been known to argue about a variety of subjects pertaining to our community, but I’ve never heard debate over calling our circular downtown “unique.”

Laid out in late 1909 and supposedly patterned after the street plan of Washington, D.C., our original commercial district has served us well for all these years.

It has always amazed this scribe that traffic flow works so well in the heart of our community. Its inner circle (Plaza) was for Patterson’s first 25 years a two-way street. That changed to one-way in 1935. An occasional out-of-towner converts it back to a two-way road, but amazingly, I can’t recall this causing a single accident in my 50 years in Patterson.

That’s undoubtedly because the circular roadway is exceptionally wide. It allows for eight streets to flow into the area without a single stop sign. Not bad for a design way back in 1909.

Despite our new shopping area off Sperry Avenue, our downtown continues to provide us with a variety of goods and services. And because of its uniqueness, it should not be ignored.

Several past city councils have given lip service to downtown restoration. Redevelopment funding was supposed to someday spearhead such a project. But when the state recently grabbed those funds, that idea went bye-bye.

Mayor Luis Molina has met with a few downtown business owners to collect ideas on what city government could do to improve the area. The obvious topics include cleanliness, policing and parking.

But more is needed. Both business and property owners have much at stake in keeping the downtown a viable commercial district. Patterson’s four banks have a considerable investment here and should be included in future discussion about spiffing up the area.

Longtime Patterson residents agree that our downtown has changed in recent years. Vacancies are noted, something that was unheard of 20 to 60 years ago. Service businesses have replaced retail space.

Yet the downtown has an advantage — that of providing accommodations for small specialty shops and businesses that do not require large square footage. And in most instances, parking is no more than a few steps from the front door.

The time has arrived for all interested parties who have stakes in our downtown to put their heads together for talk about the future.

Tsk, tsk

Elected officials may wonder why the public gets turned off at their antics. They need look no further than their own childishness.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto was ordered last week to immediately vacate her office space in Sacramento for smaller quarters.

The reason? Apparently, it was punishment for being on the wrong side of an in-party (Republican) squabble. Vote wrong and move to smaller digs.

Petty.

Brain time

Back to educating the masses who use this weekly column to enhance their intelligence. (Really!)

This week’s subject is the English language, which can be difficult. Consider these five word usages:

•The bandage was wound around the wound.

•He could lead if he could get the lead out.

•Since there is no time like the present, he thought it time to present the present.

•When he shot, the dove dove into the bushes.

•The buck does funny things when the does are present.

For the sports fan

Remember Jack Taylor, that sensational scorer for Grinnell College in Iowa who broke the college single-game record when he netted 138 points earlier this season?

Unfortunately, Jack, just a sophomore, broke his wrist in early January and is out for the remainder of the season.

Grinnell was 9-3 when he went down and had scored more than 100 points in each of those 12 games, averaging more than 124 an outing. In fact, Grinnell dropped in 116, 114 and 110 points in its three losses. Taylor’s average was over 36 points a game.

And finally...

Remember when all trains had a caboose and no one had a cellphone?

Those were the days.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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