GREENFIELD — “A wonderful opportunity,” is how Jaime Fontes described his position as Greenfield’s new city manager. Promoting economic development, “making Greenfield a Valley leader” in areas such as public safety and youth and senior services, and beautifying the city, are on Fontes’ to-do-list.
According to Fontes, a good regulatory and fiscal infrastructure will equal economic development. He complimented Mayor Jesus Olvera-Garcia and the Council for the work they have done to keep the budget “balanced and healthy.”
Fontes is hopeful about what the cannabis industry and other new businesses will mean for the citizens of Greenfield. More than 300 job applications to work in the cannabis facilities have been submitted.
He sees working with the cannabis facilities as an opportunity to partner with Hartnell College for the vocational training the campus can provide.
Other businesses that Fontes would like to see in Greenfield are a large hospital and a courthouse. There is also the Yanks Project.
Public safety is a priority for Fontes as well. Public safety means hiring a permanent chief of police. Fontes would like to have what he called “listening sessions” sometime in July for the public to give input on what they want in a chief of police. The application process for chief of police could begin as early as August.
Fontes stated that he “will go to the Council,” though he has the power to select the new chief.
Another aspect of public safety is working closely with the schools and assisting them in providing a “safe haven” for students. Fontes would like to see resource officers in the schools. Another “safe haven” would be a Boys and Girls Club, where students would go to during the “difficult times, between 2:30 and 7 p.m.” when they are out of school and their parents are still at work. There, they would get a healthy snack, have access to computers and homework tutors, and play sports.
Installing high-resolution cameras on city parks, monitored by the police department, would also “create a safer city for everyone,” according to Fontes. The city has taken over Patriot Park, and a new park director and staff will be hired.
The city will also be taking over the fire department, which will be incorporated July 1, 2018.
“Increasing the fire services from two to three men on the engine will be safer for the residents too,” stated Fontes, if the third person is a paramedic with “live saving techniques.”
Beautifying Greenfield is also on Fontes’ to-do-list. To that end, the Council approved a full-time code enforcer; a second one is expected to be approved next year.
Beautifying the city also means maintaining parks to be clean and safe. Fontes has a “streetscape plan” to beautify El Camino Real, Greenfield’s downtown, which would involve businesses adopting a common design. When Greenfield is cleaned up, Fontes stated, “Vintners will bring wine tasting” to the city.
“It’s great to be in Greenfield,” said Fontes, who is accompanied by his wife Clairise and three children.