Last night the City Council heard a staff report on the naming of the new Civic Center project that will feature the soon to open Aquatics Center, a senior center and Veteran’s Hall. Outside consultants were brought in to the tune of $38,000. Focus groups were brought in to help as well. What they came up with left all 4 city council members (Mayor Steve Ly was sick) underwhelmed and sent city staff back to the drawing board. The two proposed names were Pendulum and CNTR (Center). Each came with a graphic of what name would look like.
Watching from the comfort of my desk at home, I was hoping the city council would not choose either of the ideas. Neither represents the city or it’s heritage. Neither has a thing to do with Elk Grove. As I was watching the proceedings, I was wondering why this was wasn’t made more public and seek the community’s help in choosing a name. You know people that live and work here. I posted on the Elk Grove Laguna Forum’s Facebook and other social media sites posted as well, soliciting ideas for a name. This is something that costs exactly $0 for the city. That would have been a better starting point. Then refine the process and choose a few names. Not sure who approved of the expenditure, but I assume City Manager Laura Gill had the final say on it.
The Elk Grove Civic Center has been in the work for over 10 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted on studies and designs, just like the $38,000 on the naming. The city first contracted with renowned architect Zaha Hadid to design the initial Civic Center plan. What she came up with resembled an alien space ship.
The economy tanked and so did the civic center plan. The design was scrubbed after Elk Grove residents criticized the plan. Later Mayor Gary Davis came up with a grand plan for an aquatics center and park that would feature Sunsplash type waterslides. A nice idea, but private companies weren’t interested and the city didn’t want to operate it. More money was wasted. To be fair to the current council, the design by Hadid and money spent was approved by council members who are no longer there.
A scaled down version of the aquatic center was approved. The plan for a stand alone Veteran’s Hall was tabled and will now be part of the senior center. This brings us to the latest debacle. $38,000 to come up with two names that are pretty awful.
I was chatting with a friend this afternoon and she said, “they (the council) seem out of touch with what citizens really want. We want a safe community. We want our homes safe, our kids safe while playing outside or walking to school. We want to know our teens are safe if they are at a school function or a movie. We want to know our cars are safe parked outside or at the store or while we are eating out. So what we need is more police. Not 38k spent on stupid names for what should clearly be called the civic center. On top of the hundreds of thousands that was paid for that stupid design years ago.”
I could not agree more. On two separate occasions in the past few months, I have asked residents what the 3 most important things were to them in the city. #1 was crime and safety, by a huge margin. While the numbers say our crime is down, perception is that is higher. That perception is what is going to keep companies and businesses from locating here. Last week I shared that Rocklin was getting a zip line and amusement park type plan. People asked why can’t Elk Grove get that? It’s because businesses don’t want to come here. They don’t believe we will support it. They likely worry about crime. Too much bad publicity. Add to that the recent racial issues that have brought more negative attention to the city, and our image has taken a major hit.