By Deb Murphy
Early last year, the City of Bishop hosted a workshop focusing on concerns from the business community. The city held an encore session Monday including presentations on progress made from area agencies and organizations.
City Administrator Jim Tatum started the program with a rundown of positives: eight dwelling units were added to Bishop’s limited housing market with the 15-unit subdivision on Home Street scheduled to break ground this fall; Vons is looking for a tenant for the old Kmart location; while the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s commercial lease mandates may stand, the department may streamline its land purchase procedures and the City has developed a new parking plan for the downtown area.
Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau Director Tawni Thomson started the presentations with a rundown of the organization’s advances in drawing tourists to the valley. The efforts were funded by the $775,000 generated from the Bishop Tourism Improvement District. The City has a significant presence on social media as well as print advertising and travel show attendance. The efforts have paid off in numbers of visitors and increased interest in the area.
CalTrans District 9 Director Brent Green was a huge hit with the audience as he described the two pedestrian-activated crossing lights scheduled for installation on Main Street at East Elm and on West Line Street at the Post Office sometime in the next two years. Green’s transportation vision for Bishop includes “safety improvements and improved livability.”
Inyo County Public Works Director Clint Quilter updated the gathering on progress made at the Bishop Airport and efforts to bring commercial air service to the valley, perhaps as a collaborative, regional partnership with the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
Eastern Sierra Transit Authority’s John Helm said busses will be making twice-a-day runs to South Lake and Lake Sabrina this summer.
The City’s associate planner and economic development coordinator Elaine Kabala explained new city programs including the availability of low-interest loans for architectural improvements in the downtown corridor, the new parking plan and signage program and an upcoming public workshop on community revitalization through an Environmental Protection Agency program that provides advisors and access to other agencies’ expertise.
Looming over all the good news and progress was the recent announcement of the local JCPenney closure, illustrating the challenges of sustaining a viable business community in rural areas.