As the nation scrutinizes how to strengthen America’s financial affairs, Menlo Park city officials are discussing ways to stimulate the local economy in 2013 that will preserve the city’s village character.
New Councilmember Raymond Mueller said he would be focusing on setting goals achievable by the end of this year. He and his colleagues on the council are working with city staff and downtown merchants to find ways to give residents “the quality of life they deserve” and create business-friendly growth.
“We never talk about it, but we understand that what makes our area so unique is that it is a first-class place to live with a high quality of life near first-class healthcare,” Mueller said. “That balance is something we take very seriously,” he added.
One simple way to enhance downtown Menlo Park is to improve its curb appeal, he said.
“It’s time to upgrade the basics,” Mueller said. “I’d like to see flowers downtown and an upgrade to the lighting for nighttime,” he said. Menlo Park is not renowned for its late-night entertainment options.
In fact, numerous storefronts on Menlo Park’s main street, Santa Cruz Avenue, stand vacant, a physical testament to a development process that business owners have described as “lugubrious.”
During Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled council meeting, this paperwork process was illuminated, from business concept to final construction.
“A big challenge is keeping the development process going without people getting angry and frustrated about their development application taking too long,” said Carol Augustine, finance director for the city of Menlo Park.
Augustine is responsible for balancing the city’s needs and financial obligations, the latter of which is challenging cities throughout San Mateo County. In the latest evaluation of the city’s budget, Menlo Park’s underfunded pension commitments ranged from $11.8 -19.6 million, depending on how you assess the city’s revenue recapture rates, according a study prepared for city staff by Bartel & Associates LLC on January 22, 2013.
With this in mind, government officials are solidifying a long-term plan for financial stability that addresses residents' needs and includes strategies for attracting businesses to town.
These goals will be finalized in late March.
What do you think the the city should prioritize?