Atascadero makes park, zoo priorities

Council identifies six areas to emphasize over the next two years; economy still a paramount issue

tstrickland@thetribunenews.comApril 29, 2013 

One of the goals for Atascadero in the coming year is to promote Atascadero Lake Park, Pavilion, Veterans Memorial and Charles Paddock Zoo as an events center.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Promoting Atascadero Lake Park as a versatile events center tops the list of six issues the city hopes to focus on over the next two years.

Also of high priority are meeting with commercial brokers to bring in new business and adding more training for public safety. 

The ideas, which came out of a public workshop held earlier this year, were reaffirmed by the City Council this past week.

In order of importance, the goals are to:

• Promote the Atascadero Lake Park, Pavilion, Veterans Memorial and Charles Paddock Zoo as an events center.

• Pursue more connection between the City Council and the community.

• Promote common-sense regulations and reform.

• Promote environmental stewardship.

• Pursue economic development.

• Provide high-quality public safety services.

“Everyone has things they would like to see happen — and most cost money,” Mayor Tom O’Malley told The Tribune, noting that’s why the city continues to focus on economic development. 

This time, Atascadero Lake Park will take the city’s top economic focus.

The council sets goals for the city every two years. The plans lay the foundation for the city’s two-year budget, to be presented in June. Cost estimates for projects related to the goals will be presented at that time. Some of the goals rely on volunteer efforts, as well.

Promoting Atascadero Lake Park is an important way to invigorate the economy because “we believe we are well positioned to join our county in promoting our area as a tourism destination, as well as providing family-friendly venues,” O’Malley said.

The latest effort comes after the council made the overarching goal of pursuing economic development its top priority in earlier years — spearheading new projects such as Colony Square downtown with Galaxy Theatres, Qué Pasa Mexican Cafe and other new businesses; and approving the Walmart shopping center on the north side of town. That project has been tied up in litigation, and a construction timeline isn’t yet clear.

The council also adopted an action plan prepared by city staff designed to make the goals a reality. The task list is long and detailed, but here are some of the highlights:

• To  better  promote Atascadero Lake Park and its attractions, the city plans to increase its marketing presence on Facebook and the Internet; look into whether receptions can be held at the zoo; add 50 parking spaces to the zoo; catch up on maintenance at the Pavilion that was put off during the recession; and work on getting volunteers to keep up the grounds.

• To pursue more connection with the community, the city plans to continue providing council meetings on the radio and online and improve its news releases about information and city events.

• To tackle “common-sense” regulations, an update on citywide zoning codes aims to “minimize barriers and streamline the permitting of new businesses.”

• To be more environmentally minded, the city plans to create an environmental stewardship page on its website, www.atascadero .org; encourage volunteers to help clean up and protect public spaces; and continue to expedite the permit process for adding rooftop solar panels.

• To keep economic development at the forefront, the city wants to seek out new sales and hotel tax options such as identifying a site for a regional destination RV park; continue to focus on getting the Walmart project built at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real; and meet with commercial brokers to bring in new business.

• On the public services front, the council has pledged to work with local schools, agencies and community groups to practice responding to emergencies on school campuses. That includes more training and developing protocols for fire and police response to potential campus shooting incidents. 

The city also said it will pursue grants and other funding sources to modernize emergency radio communications for police, fire and public works.

Stay connected with Tonya Strickland by visiting @tstrickland on Twitter and www.facebook.com/SLOTribuneNorthCounty.

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