Officials thinking growth

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

The city of Clovis is getting more involved in the future of Main Street. It’s also getting more involved in the health and well-being of the city’s youth.

City commissioners Thursday voted to designate downtown as the Clovis Downtown Metropolitan Redevelopment Area, meaning the city would be able to offer tax breaks and other incentives to business owners looking to set up shop in the city’s historical district.

Commissioners also increased their legislative wish list by $2.5 million, money that would go toward a proposed $7.5 million sports complex near Spencer Park. That’s in addition to a $1 million request for outdoor recreation the Commission decided upon in October.

The complex would include baseball and softball fields, a swimming pool and water park, and an indoor track and soccer field, said Vincent de Maio, Clovis High swimming coach and local rancher/farmer.

De Maio said the project is a joint effort between the schools, the city and hopefully some private investors.
While the request is large, de Maio said he feels good about the possibility of receiving funds that would be beneficial to the health of today’s youth.

“Health, wellness, youth development and anti-crime and anti-gang are some of the highest priorities of the Legislature. From that perspective I think we have an opportunity to (get funded),” he said.

For downtown lovers, Thursday’s City Commission designation came with $25,000 from the state’s economic development department.

The designation is a step in the right direction for downtown, said Zala Smith, president of the non-profit Clovis Downtown Revitalization Program Board of Directors.
The city owns three buildings downtown: Hotel Clovis, an old department store building at the 600 block of Main Street and the Lyceum Theatre.

For Smith, whose program was awarded $175,000 from the state last year for a beatification project at 1st and Main streets, Thursday’s approval means her dream of a topnotch Main Street is closer to fruition.

“Our Main Street is unlike any other in the United States, and we want to develop that uniqueness,” she said. “In five years I think we’ll see major physical differences on Main Street. In 10 years we would be fully occupied and have a waiting list, (but) that may be a little optimistic.”