Potential of Downey

Dear Editor:Mr. Christon's observation about attendance at the candidate's forum and format jibes with what we have been experiencing at many City Council meetings - limiting input and near total rejection or a total deaf ear to public input, even when allowed. ("Forum Provides Little Insight," 10/28/10) Of course, the Brown Act provides a convenient shelter in most cases, even on agenda items. No wonder so few attend City Council business meetings. That Councilman Mario Guerra was the "star of the show" was to be expected. Has there been a forum in which he has failed to overwhelm others as well as the audience with his position, or allowed another view to be fully presented, as apparently happened in this case? Mr. Christon's report conveys that, once again, the vision and the action plan for grasping the opportunity to establish the city of Downey as the arts and culture center of the Gateway Cities will have to wait for some other future city council - one with the imagination, courage and confidence in Downey's future beyond that of a "safe and fiscally well-run city." Will the opportunity wait? We now have in place some of the important elements, such as the Downey Symphony, the Downey Civic Light Opera, what remains of the Downey Museum of Art, as well as people who care; and physical space elements, such as the Downey Theatre, the street floor space of what is to be developed on the property now occupied by the city-owned Avenue Theatre, and most importantly, the space bounded by City Hall, the library and the Embassy Suites, , now wasted in parking and driveways to nowhere, together with the "T" formed by Downey Avenue and 3rd Street, all together ideally suited to serve as the center of Downey's renaissance. And all of these spaces vital to a Downey renaissance are city-owned. We do not have to spend money now in view of the current economy. But confidence and commitment to pursue such renaissance, which can be developed over time, is what is needed, not signage and labels. No matter what label you put on an empty box, it remains an empty box! Mr. Christon is right: business alone will not make a better city, especially low-cost food service places with their low-paying jobs, which we seem to be attracting. Not even cities with good businesses like our neighbors, the cities of Commerce and Vernon, evoke pride and admiration other than for their economic base. However, making the city of Downey a center for research in renewable energy and the development of solar energy, tied to the Columbia Memorial Space Center, is worth pursuing in this writer's view, even at this late date - especially with the vacant space at Downey Landing and vacant dealerships, among other. This kind of development is both image building and would help recover the city's image of looking to the future. I hope the Patriot will encourage Mr. Christon and others to continue to focus on how best to revitalize and renew Downey. Let's keep the discussion going. City Hall should not be the sole fountain of ideas. As we all strive to see a better city, we should set forth our ideas. It is a principle that public policy developed from the ground up always trumps policy imposed from the top. -- Harold Tseklenis, Downey

********** Published: November 4, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 29