GREENFIELD — Greenfield Mayor Lance Walker delivered a state of the city speech last week, in which he reflected positively on the city’s growth and potential.
Walker spoke to the gathered members of the Southern Monterey County Republican Women Federated during the Jan. 7 lunch meeting.
“We have a great staff right now and great department heads. We have a fabulous council and a new city manager that’s doing very well,” Walker said, noting that the city is “in search of a new police chief right now. We had to part ways with our older police chief.”
Regarding the nature of an official city review, Walker said, “Greenfield hasn’t had a state of the city speech probably in eight to 10 years. We’re going to have ours next month possibly.”
Walker stared his roundup of things happening in Greenfield with the Yanks Air Museum, the city’s most visible new feature from the highway.
“Phase one is the RV park and community center. That’s been done for a few years,” he said. “Now phase two has started, which is going to be the actual museum, a runway and a hotel. That should be definitely starting very soon. After that there’s going to be a restaurant and commercial spaces.”
The initial part of phase two, he explained, is the underground work, which is “getting done” now.
“It’s really going to be a big draw for people wanting to come into Greenfield,” Walker said. “Not just from this area, but all over the world.”
He explained Yanks founder Charles Nichols has 120 aircraft currently in Chino, Calif., that will be moved to Greenfield.
“He has one of the largest collections of World War II Golden Era aircraft,” he said.
Another north side development was the courthouse, which has been stalled for years.
“The fight for the courthouse continues,” Walker said. “As you all know, Greenfield gave a piece of land right across from city hall to the state in 2010. They promised us the courthouse and they kind of reneged on that. And, in 2013, the courthouse was closed in King City. It’s not fair to the South County people to have to go all the way to Salinas or Monterey or Marina to go to court.”
Greenfield leaders plan to work with the state legislature to find a solution, Walker said. He brought up convincing California Gov. Gavin Newsom to come to Greenfield in order to show him the situation. Though the mention of the governor’s name drew laughter from some in the audience, Walker said he remained hopeful.
“Wish us luck,” he said. “It’s not just a Greenfield thing, it’s all of South County. It’s big for all of us. We’re not giving up.”
The Vines, Greenfield’s newest shopping center located on Walnut Avenue, was next in the discussion. While Starbucks and Carl’s Jr. have opened, Walker said problems with getting electricity to newer buildings has delayed the opening of the Arco gas station and AM/PM convenience store.
“There’s a lot of red tape just to get electricity there, but we’ll get there,” Walker said.
He noted the other planned buildings for The Vines included Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez’s office, a fitness center and a Fairfield Inn by Marriott. The latter is expected to break ground by April.
The sale of medical cannabis has gone over the $1 million mark in tax revenue for Greenfield.
“When I ran for mayor, we weren’t seeing any of this money,” Walker said. “We were having problems with our neighbor, with the smell. But that’s gotten much better. Parking’s gotten better, and there’s more communication and more accountability with the industry in Greenfield.”
Housing has been an issue for many California cities, Greenfield included.
“California is all about housing,” Walker said. “I don’t want to say it so meanly, but they’re trying to slam all the below-income and low-income housing on us.” He added, of meeting below-income requirements, “In Greenfield, I’m proud to announce that we’re more than 94 percent ahead. Greenfield’s been putting in a lot of low-income housing over the years. Where we lack is on median income, market rate homes, and above. That’s our focus right now.”
New housing developments are in the works on Elm Street across from Patriot Park, another south of Greenfield High School, another along 13th Street, and another near the freeway, where the L.A. Hearne building is located. The latter is planned to feature a mix of commercial areas and housing, as well as a school.
There is another development of farmworker housing that has been approved by the city council but needs revisions before it can go forth, Walker noted.
In the upcoming southern commercial area, Walker said, “I’m hoping for a Pilot truck stop there.” He explained the Pilot station in Salinas is that city’s largest single source of tax revenue, larger than Walmart.
The mayor also went to a potential future sister city for Greenfield, located in Guanajuato, Mexico. He visited because “there’s over 300 families in the Greenfield area that are from there.”
“The sister city program is a good thing,” he added. “It’s not about money. It’s about education and cultural situations. So we look forward to working on that.”
Walker closed by reminding that all the cities in South Monterey County share the same goals.
“We all have to work together for what is best,” he said.