By Deb Murphy
If downtown Bishop were a house, realtors would say it may be a bit of a fixer-upper, but it has great potential. The next question for the buyer is do you restore the fixer-upper to its original glory or do you incorporate current and future trends.
The City Council will be trying to answer that question in a series of quarterly special meetings to both track and focus the direction Bishop will take over the next 10 years. As Mayor Jim Ellis said, “we have to harness the future, not the past.”
Last Friday’s meeting reviewed the priority projects, the top five out of 11 discussed at a mid-March organizational session. Hiring a consultant to pull together a master plan topped the list.
The scope of work involved in master planning includes signage, zoning, parking, housing, basically all the elements that have been before the Council in the last few years.
The request for proposals is being sent out and City Administrator Dave Kelly estimates the plan should be at or near completion within the next 12 to 18 months.
A grant from Cal Trans will cover the cost of the planning consultant. Additional grant funding should be available to implement elements of the plan. Kelly said Elaine Kabala, the City’s planning associate, could work on both possible signage ordinances and grant applications for Prop. 68 funds while the consultant develops the master plan.
Kelly was eager to move forward, to “get something done.”
After more than three years of discussion and workshops, the Council agreed there was enough community input to use as a starting point. Additional community outreach could come into play once the consultant has come up with a draft.
Other items that made the top five were downtown events, a walkable main street, housing, emergency medical services and a mandatory truck route by-pass.
The truck by-pass should start an interesting debate. Councilmember Chris Costello indicated the day parking was pulled off downtown’s Main Street as the day the commercial core started its decline. On the other side of the argument are those who see the by-pass as the death knell for the downtown corridor.