Editor's Note: We invited the mayors of Stanislaus County's smaller cities to share their thoughts on what 2013 will bring for their communities. This is the last in that series. The essays are all available at www.modbee.com/opinion.
Many know Patterson for its vibrant agriculture, wonderful Apricot Fiesta, close-knit community and welcoming spirit. All those qualities still exist, however our community has grown over the last couple of decades. If you haven't visited the West Side of Stanislaus County in awhile, you are in for some surprises!
Our population is 20,634, and there have been some growing pains. The needs have not only changed, but the ability to support economic growth and workforce development have challenged city administrators and elected officials. With unemployment reaching nearly 20 percent, losing businesses in the economic recession has been heart-felt. Patterson Vegetable Co. closing after 66 years is an example.
Traina Dried Fruit, a Patterson-based sun-dried fruit company, and Modesto-based Sierra Pacific Refrigerated Services partnered to buy the company's refrigerated packing and warehousing facilities. Traina Pacific looks to begin in April with roughly 120 employees, 100 of them already working for Traina Foods.
Agriculture will continue to be one of the strongest features of Patterson's economy. However, the city has an emerging role as a commercial, retail and as a service hub with great access to Interstate 5.
We have business park partners in Kohl's, CVS, Patterson Joint Unified School District and we've recently welcomed Grainger and the expansion of the Del Puerto Community Health Care Center. We are optimistic looking forward in 2013.
Wal-Mart plans to open a 158,000-square-foot supercenter on Jan. 23. Panda Express and GameStop also plan to open in the shopping center.
In addition, Seattle-based Amazon.com is building a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in the Westridge Business Park, slated to open by early fall. One company has built 23 houses, including three model homes, on 47 lots it purchased from a previous developer. Their success could be an indicator of things to come in 2013.
I plan to invite fellow council members to join me in hosting a forum on ways to boost our historic downtown. We've discussed installing photovoltaic solar panels at the sewage treatment plants, new corporation yard, the Hammon Senior Center and Patterson Aquatic Center. Those panels would generate more than 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to cover 94 percent of the facilities' power use.
The outline also calls for the conversion of nearly 800 city-owned streetlights to LEDs and improvements to indoor and outdoor lighting at the aquatic center, the corporation yard, both fire stations and the sewage treatment plant. These changes could reduce the city's electricity use by2.1 million kilowatt-hours and our utility bills by more than $220,000 per year.
The council will discuss master plans for public safety, transportation, storm drains, sewage treatment, water and parks. An economic development strategy is being formulated to outline the types of businesses that fit best in Patterson.
We've been blessed with some great opportunities, and we've done a stellar job promoting economic development. We will continue to seek ways to improve our quality of life on the West Side and Patterson. It is an honor to serve as the mayor of Patterson! Put on your shades when you visit, because the future is bright in Patterson.
Molina has lived in Patterson since 2002; he was elected mayor in 2010 and re-elected in November.