Visalia councilmembers plan for future growth at annual meeting

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thursday, Visalia city councilmembers and staff reviewed what happened in 2017. On Friday, they reconvened at the new Visalia Emergency Communications Center, looking at problems and priorities for 2018 and beyond.

They revisited Measure N, the half-cent sales tax increase voters approved in 2016, that will allow the city to fund public safety, roads, and parks for years to come.

They also discussed the future buildout of the area surrounding the VECC, as it's called. Eventually, the city plans to build a civic center and public safety building nearby.

Councilmember Steve Nelsen says trails and green space will add a different dynamic for the city's growing population to enjoy.

"How do you maintain the services to handle the growth? How do you make the city of Visalia a place where people want to live, work, and raise a family?" Nelsen said about the idea of the special meeting.

"It's not going to be that many years down the road where we're going to be 200,000 people," said Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler. "So when you have a vibrant growing city like Visalia, you're always looking at one, what do we need to do to keep up with the growth of the city, new infrastructure, new buildings? But at the same time, we have to look at what we already have and maintain that."

Besides new buildings, the city also has a fresh face. Randy Groom is Visalia's new city manager. Most recently, he had the same role in Exeter.

"This (meeting) is where staff can come and say, here's what we're doing and are we doing what you need us to be doing?" Groom said. "And then the council, in reflecting what the public wants, says yes or no."

One particular issue the public is concerned about is homelessness. In response, the city launched a work program last summer. So far, nearly 30 homeless people have participated, and about half have been offered jobs outside the program, which is the ultimate goal.
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