By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
The year 2010 was a bad one for almost everyone. Even as the economy showed some signs of recovery, it didn’t happen fast enough to save businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies from waves of red ink.
So now 2011 is a year of waiting. Hoping that rising confidence in recovery will lift all boats. Hoping that new-old governor Jerry Brown will be able to lift California out of its fiscal morass without taking too much from local cities and school systems.
And, of course, that the good times – when they arrive – will last a lot longer than the Great Recession we’re (slowly) crawling out of.
With all of that in mind, here’s our look at the year ahead in the Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area. Hope you like it.
The development picture is so cloudy nationally and regionally that expecting a variety of “coming soon” projects to actually get built might be a little optimistic.
However, chances are that residential development will improve somewhat, and this means high-density projects in the Century Triangle and Brookhurst Triangle might come to fruition in 2011.
The latter is a little more complicated; not all the land has been assembled and it’s a mixed-use plan. However, it can be built in phases, with the 600 condominium units going first. This is on a 13.9 acre site at the triangle formed by Garden Grove Boulevard, Brookhurst Street and Brookhurst Way.
The Century Village project would include 53 townhome residents on 2.67 acres, about half of the Triangle formed by Taft Street, Century Boulevard and Garden Grove Boulevard near the city’s downtown area.
Certainly the most-awaited project would be the proposed water park hotel on Harbor Boulevard north of Garden Grove Boulevard. Planned is a 600-room, 12-story hotel with an attached three-acre water park, a parking structure and restaurants.
Great Wolf Resorts has agreed to manage the facility and the developer hopes to begin construction this year. But it’s a complex operation, including the relocation of residents of an RV park on the site, as well as gaining the necessary financing and approvals.
There’s no elections set this year in Garden Grove, but there is one new high profile leader in town. Kevin Raney has taken over as chief of police for the retiring Joe Polisar and a new chief almost always leaves his stamp on the department.
On the parks front, two “skate spots” should open this year, one in Garden Grove Park and another at Westhaven Park.
2011 should also be a crucial year for Garden Grove’s most famous church, the Crystal Cathedral. The world-famous megachurch declared bankruptcy in 2010. The church is now under the leadership of Sheila Schuller Coleman; programs have been cut or eliminated and the sale of church property has been proposed.
Two traditional events should continue to attract crowds here. The Strawberry Festival, with a theme of “The Sweet Sounds of Comedy” will be held at the Village Green Park May 27-30, and the annual Tet Festival will celebrate the coming of the Year of the Rabbit Feb. 4-6 at Garden Grove Park.
Most west Orange County cities are “underparked,” which is to say they don’t have enough open space and parkland for their population. Stanton is doing more than most cities to alleviate that and 2011 should see progress on turning the former Mary Perez School on Western Avenue into the community’s first large park.
Purchased from the Magnolia School District for $12 million, the 11.5-acre site will take about six to eight months to design the new facility, with another year for construction.
Another project consuming the City of Stanton will be renovation of the crime-plagued Tina Pacific neighborhood, where the city has been buying up residential units for demolition and replacement.
A lot of the news in this city will be coming from the police department. A new, state-of-the-art , 92,000-square foot police facility is under construction in the city’s Civic Center area. The new building is expected to open in May 2011.
The new building, with glassy facades, represents another change in the government complex away from the Tudor-style English architecture adopted in the Sixties.
Mitch Waller, the chief of police, is now the acting city manager upon the retirement of Donald Lamm. The Westminster City Council appointed Waller to lead the city for a 90-day period while it conducts its search for a replacement.
The Miriam Warne Community Building, 11491 Beach Blvd., will come into full utility. The 4,745-square foot building is the new home for the Westminster Chamber of Commerce; the rest of the facility will be used for a variety of community functions.
2011 will also be a good year for the fans of fireworks, as the sale and discharge of “safe and sane” pyrotechnics is again legal in Westminster. If the city follows common policy, the sales will be limited to non-profit organizations around the Independence Day holiday.
Money will very much be on the minds of leaders of the Garden Grove and Westminster school systems. A steep drop in tax revenue has led to cutbacks and staff furloughs, while much attention shifts to Sacramento and the fiscal plans of newly-elected Governor Jerry Brown.
In the Garden Grove Unified School District, though, the good news is that the passage last year of a $250 million bond issue for renovation of aging facilities will start to have an impact this year, as renovation at campuses gets underway.
Most campuses are over 50 years old; Garden Grove High was established at its present site in 1925.