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					Coachella refocuses improvement efforts | Desert | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California




            Coachella refocuses improvement efforts


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            10:00 PM PDT on Friday, April 6, 2007

            By SANDRA BALTAZAR MARTÍNEZ
            The Press-Enterprise

            COACHELLA - The city of Coachella is investing thousands of dollars in road
            improvements and has set aside money to upgrade and reconstruct several parks.


            According to Mayor Eduardo Garcia, the city has rearranged its priorities and is focusing
            on finishing roads and parks before it starts on the entertainment and commercial district
            planned off Dillon Road.


            Coachella has spent more than $1.2 million on projects such as installing speed bumps,
            filling potholes and refurbishing streets in the older part of town, he said.


            A one-mile stretch on Tyler Street is being rebuilt at a cost of more than $1 million and
            more than 75 project requests for such things as such as the speed bumps have been
            fulfilled, Garcia said.


            The turnaround -- all within the first 100 days of Garcia's administration -- comes from a
            strategic planning process, Garcia said.


            "We talked about what's important and what's a priority and set timelines. We are also
            holding people accountable," Garcia said. "We're all here for the same reason: working
            together with the same vision."


            In addition to street improvements, the council in February approved a plan to remake
            Bagdouma and Dateland parks. About $6 million has been set aside from the capital
            improvements budget. The 4-acre Dateland Park will have a new skate park and a water
            area, Garcia said. Construction will start in the fall.


            Park improvements have been a hot issue in the city. Last summer, about 300 adults and
            teenagers, led by Coachella Valley Inland Congregations United for Change, met with
            council members. They requested everything from new bathrooms to a skate park, a
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Coachella refocuses improvement efforts | Desert | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California

            spray park or splash pad and playground equipment for all ages.


            Although the city seems to be moving forward, some of the changes are still coming too
            slowly, said Coachella resident Sal Velasquez, 68.


            Velasquez, who regularly attends City Council meetings, said issues remain. He said a
            streetlight in Coachelita, the city's old town, that has been out for at least five years, and
            the light bulb has yet to be replaced.


            He said he is also concerned the new entertainment district has been put on the back
            burner and worries whether the city has the manpower to keep up with local needs.


            "How long does it take to change a light bulb?" Velasquez asked. "There is not enough
            manpower in Coachella. They start one project, then go on to another and never finish
            projects."


            But Garcia said that will change because the city is in the process of hiring more public
            works employees and a planner.


            Reach Sandra Baltazar Martínez at 760- 837-4412 or at sbmartinez@PE.com




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