Friday, October 9, 2009

Growing Facilities in a Growing Community

When I began working for the City of Fontana, we had approximately 78,000 residents, a city hall, a police department building, and various community centers spread throughout town. Currently, the City of Fontana is home to about 190,000 residents. For the past two decades, the City of Fontana has been one of the fastest growing communities in the nation and current forecasts project we will eventually grow to a population level of between 250,000 and 300,000 people.

During the majority of the past twenty-years of growth, the City has continued to use the same police department and city hall facilities. However, a few years ago, the City constructed a Development Services building just south of City Hall, and is now turning its attention to meeting the needs of an expanding police department.

Development Services Building 2008

Within the next year, you will see additional changes in and around City Hall. First, the Emerald Street Building, which has over time housed the County Library, Code Enforcement, Community Services and Records, will be torn down and converted into a controlled parking area for use by the Fontana Police Department. Once completed, the lower level parking area adjacent to the current Police Department will be converted into additional work spaces, a shooting range, and locker facilities. This expansion will provide sufficient room to grow for the Police Department for years to come.

In addition to creating expanded police parking and
facilities, the City Hall parking area will be reconfigured to add additional parking for community use. This reconfiguration will allow the City to create the parking it needs to serve the community without the construction of an expensive parking structure on the City Hall campus. Monies have been set aside for both the Police and City Hall parking projects by the City Council, and plans for the construction of those projects are currently working their way through “plan check”.

Next year the City will also begin a reconstruction and expansion project of the historic Fire Station 71, located north of Arrow and just east of Sierra. This project will wrap the historic station with a more modern station, capable of meeting the needs of our growing community, and turn the historic station into a fire museum. The new station will require the removal of some grass and trees from Miller Park, but when complete, the new station will allow Fontana to effectively meet the safety needs of our growing community in the most cost-effective manner.

When I became City Manager of Fontana, much of City Hall had been closed to the public. I have never liked the message this closure communicates to the community. Thus, over the past several years we have worked to reopen areas for public access and modernized/remodeled certain areas in a cost-effective manner and without building a new “government palace.”

While some of our City Hall office facilities are older than those in other communities, I believe Fontana has an excellent City Hall with a very friendly and professional environment. Fontana is blessed to have City Council members who emphasize community service over government monuments. It is this philosophy I have tried to follow, and will continue to follow, in the refurbishment of all our government facilities.