Hercules City Council candidate Phil Simmons submitted the following:
Smart Growth — Why and How
The city of Hercules has a well-designed plan that is based on urban development and smart growth. The General Hercules Plan is what will take Hercules from being a bedroom community that serves the Greater Bay Area to a real and diverse town. The Hercules General Plan not only provides for the population to grow to over 30,000 citizens, it is a plan that provides for economic development, a proper balance of retail business, and growth of other commercial business. The plan also incorporates a transit-oriented community (TOD) that helps reduce the impacts of traffic and provides for public transportation. The Hercules General Plan includes a method to provide for
future schools, parks, and open spaces.
These provisions are important to having a healthy and sustainable town. Here are a few reasons why.
Transit-oriented development gives the local public the ability to get to and from other places through mass transit. Hours wasted in highway traffic are reduced. This is just sensible good planning that helps the environment.
Economic development through retail and commercial business growth provides for a sustainable tax base. Hercules has failed for many years at increasing a sustainable tax base and improving it must be the number one priority of the city’s development efforts. Commercial and retail development growth also provides the community with the goods and services it buys today from other surrounding towns. We must recapture our own sales tax dollars through economic development.
Quality schools, of course, provide for our children's future and are a key to our city's strength. When a community becomes known for its school system, home values increase and economic development flourishes. The current development plans accommodate future schools. If Hercules builds to its expected population, there will be a need for larger schools and new neighborhood schools. The city currently owns property which can accommodate a school. We should not sell that property unless, at a later point in the future, it is determined that a new school will not be needed.
Parks and open space are essential for a healthy and vibrant community. As the population grows an additional 6,000 or more citizens, growth needs to include parks and open space. Almost all of the new planned growth will be on the waterfront side of Interstate 80. This area has a few "micro" parks. Hercules owns property that can be used for a park that is large and flat enough to provide for a ball field for the entire town and would serve as a park that can accommodate the new planned growth.
These topics are all a part of the existing Hercules "General" and "Central" plan. I believe we need to stay the course and see that these plans and our city’s goals are achieved. If we fail to achieve a balanced and smart growth we will not be able to sustain the civic services that we all expect. If we want a secure community with the proper support for police and fire, we must be able to pay for it. If we want a city that provides a quality swim center, teen center, senior center, and parks and recreation department, we must be able to pay for it.
Either, we can achieve these goals by completing the well balanced development plans the city already has in place, or with ever increasing taxes on each and every one of you. I prefer the former to the later.
Today is our future. If we fail to follow through we will not get a chance to fix it later. Let's make Hercules a well-diversified town, not a bedroom community along the highway.
I plan to do all I can to help Hercules achieve these goals. I hope that all of you in the community will strive for the same thing.
Please vote on November 6!