CONCORD, CA—In reviewing a year that “pushed our emotional limit and changed the way we lived,” Mayor Tim McGallian projected an optimistic view during the State of the City Zoom address on Feb. 22.
“We still have much to do, and the fight is not yet over. We all need to be part of that movement, that solution or that helping hand. But know that we cannot go it alone,” McGallian said in a speech that highlighted examples of community unity.
Given that the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce hosted the virtual event, the state of local businesses was often front and center.
McGallian pointed to the city’s $730,000 Small Business Grant Program and the holiday Shop Concord gift card promotion as key ways the chamber and city worked together in the last year.
Chamber president/CEO Kevin Cabral lauded McGallian’s initiative and leadership during the pandemic.
“Mayor McGallian is such a real person who cares deeply about his work and how he governs our city,” Cabral said. “He took the bull by the horns and has not looked back. Tim was and is the right leader for this time.”
New to town
McGallian listed several new business projects in the works, including Side Gate Brewery and Beer Garden downtown, the DaVita Dialysis Center on Willow Pass Road and the 100,000 sq. ft. industrial center in North Concord. And he is looking forward to the May 2022 completion of the first of two buildings in the Grant, a housing/retail development “adjacent to Concord’s living room – Todos Santos Plaza.”
Meanwhile, the City Council hopes to select a new developer for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station this year, as well as potentially begin negotiations with the company that buys the Coast Guard property. (McGallian later announced that the Coast Guard closed the auction at $58.4 million on March 4; the purchaser’s identity will be made public in about 90 days.)
The mayor also pointed to the recently approved 86-room Hampton by Hilton as a way to help Visit Concord market the city as a tourism destination.
“Visit Concord’s thoughtful destination marketing plan and strategic actions taken over the next two years will play a critical role in the speed and scope of Concord’s recovery and long-term economic health,” McGallian said before cueing to a virtual tour of the new Visit Concord center in Salvio Pacheco Square.
Helping those in need
After offering thanks to city staff, health-care heroes, essential workers and teachers, the mayor praised the “Herculean effort” of the county’s Health Services.
“From COVID testing to vaccine distribution, we are fortunate to have smart, organized professionals working together on behalf of all Contra Costa residents,” he said.
Acknowledging the difficulties that restrictions have placed on residents and businesses during the pandemic, McGallian said they helped keep case rates lower than in many other communities.
“While it has been frustrating and it will take time to fully recover, I know that we are on the road to recovery now. Each day, I feel more optimistic about the future,” he said.
In the meantime, the city will continue to partner with non-profits for projects like the food distribution center in the old Kmart and the Neighbor Express program to help seniors. He also referred to the city’s emergency moratorium on rent increases and evictions and nearly $1.3 million in CARES Act funding that helped more than 400 families retain housing.
Paving the way
Since you can’t have a discussion of the state of the city without talk of potholes, McGallian called road maintenance “a real priority for the city” and praised the passage of the Measure V sales tax measure in November.
“You can expect us to take a serious look at how we can leverage the Measure V funding to initiate an accelerated program for our roads and infrastructure improvements,” he said.
Measure V will also boost the city budget, which was stretched even thinner due to the COVID shutdowns. “Fortunately, we were not hit as hard as expected,” McGallian said, while noting that the current budget is still reliant on $3 million in reserves.
The mayor reminded residents that they can keep up with city news via the city website, social media channels, E-newsletter and a new Podcast launched in January. He also urged residents to continue wearing masks, social distancing, practicing good hygiene and getting the vaccine when it’s their turn.
“I definitely miss being with all of you in person to connect and celebrate the great things that are happening in Concord,” he said. “And I sincerely hope we can all be together again soon – maybe even at an event in Concord’s living room. Fingers crossed.”