I felt compelled to respond to the viewpoint article written by Chuck Fellows (“Big changes are in the works for A.G. Village,” Thursday). As many of us know, when it comes to implementing change, there are always those who resist it even if it is a change for the better.
Let me state that as the mayor of Arroyo Grande, I know what our beautiful Village means to the community and to those who visit our town. I, along with many other volunteers, work very hard each week on clean-up and beautification projects in and around the Village. We do it because we care and because we want the Village to continue to be a special place. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information about what is being proposed:
• First, there was no vote taken on this project. And even though some of us support the concept, we all agreed that we needed more information before we could approve it. That is why Short Street has been temporarily closed for the past month.
• Further, it is not as “cut and dried” as Fellows indicated. There are certain aspects of the project that “everyone” liked.
• Another misconception is that Short Street is being eliminated. This is not true. Short Street continues for about a half mile on the other side of the Arroyo Grande Creek. And most importantly, the Short family name will be preserved on a marker at the Branch Street entrance to Centennial Square, if and when the project is approved.
• As to the inference that our Building and Safety building (referred to as the “malt shop” by Fellows) is historic; it is not. It was evaluated using criteria previously approved by the city council. If this building was located outside of the Village in one of our redevelopment project areas, no one would give it a second look.
• The small frame house that serves as our Public Works building was deemed to be historic and will remain where it is. Even though it is to be sold as part of the overall project, the applicant has agreed to perform much-needed (and very expensive) repairs to the building, thus allowing for its adaptive reuse.
• There will be no net loss of parking in the Village, and, in fact, we will simultaneously gain a 65-space central parking facility within steps of the Village core.
• This project will be a beautiful addition to the Village. It will create an additional restaurant, enhance an already existing restaurant and add additional retail space.
• The square itself will be a pleasant pedestrian area with beautiful landscaping and common area outdoor seating.
I would encourage you to attend our city council meeting. I anticipate that a thorough report will be given by our City Manager. You can then objectively decide for yourself as to the merits of this project. I support this project because it is good for our economy and will be a wonderful addition to our historic Village. The vast majority of people I have spoken to within our community who live, work or frequent the Village are supportive of it as well.
Tony Ferrara is the mayor of Arroyo Grande.