Many residents agree that downtown Patterson, while far from dead, is not living up to its full potential. City officials recognize this as well and have been developing a plan to revitalize downtown.
To start the process, a team met with approximately 25 community members over two days, including the mayor and city council members, and held a session with the Planning Commission.
Several weekend brainstorming sessions followed this, where the public presented their ideas for why the downtown is stale and how to make it better. The sessions resulted in some experimental community implementations, such as a barbecue hosted by the Patterson Lions Club and a live band performance in the old theater next to Blue’s Cafe.
"Its goal is to spur immediate public and private investment in downtown leading it to the revitalization of the community’s complete vision,” the report says of the visioning process. “There is no time like the present to take the first steps.”
Spearheading the effort is the newly-formed Downtown Revitalization Committee, which held its first meeting May 10. Chairperson Emily Strongin-Blickenstaff, Vice Chairperson Tim Benefield, Ali Wright, Erica Ayala, and Lisa Days make up the committee.
David James, Community Development Director, is one of the organizers of the revitalization process and the committee. He led a successful revitalization effort in Tehachapi, California from December 1996 to July 2015, and now hopes to bring a similar new life to Patterson.
City Manager Ken Irwin, along with James, led the May 10 meeting. James was pleased with the cross-section of the community represented, with a PHS teacher, a pastor, a business owner, a mother of two, and a downtown land owner filling out the seats.
Irwin mentioned that the city can’t implement its plans alone. The community has to be motivated and engaged with the process as well.
"Many of the recommendations for revitalization of the downtown are beyond the scope and ability of the city,” the visioning report says. “Partners are needed for many of the initiatives, ... Non-profit and private organizations have abilities to raise funding and get project (sic) done in ways that the city cannot."
Some of the committee’s top priorities are improving the downtown for pedestrians with better lighting, more trees, and wider sidewalks. They also want to introduce a theater, a center for the arts, and improve current buildings, all with the historic architecture of city hall and the museum. They plan to reinforce South Del Puerto Avenue as Patterson’s “main street.”
The visioning report gives the ultimate destination of downtown Patterson: "A revitalized downtown Patterson should be the hub of community activities and social gathering and express Patterson's strong community spirit. It should attract residents from all parts of Patterson and visitors from elsewhere to enjoy a variety of restaurants, cafes, entertainment, retail stores, and services, during the daytime, evenings, and weekends. ... Downtown streets should be safe and comfortable for people walking, riding bicycles, and driving cars. The downtown parks should be a source of civic pride and have infrastructure for hosting a variety of events."
The future is bright for downtown Patterson. "Patterson has 'good bones,'" James said in the committee meeting.
For any who wish to be a part of the revitalization process, the committee meetings are open to the public and the next one is tentatively scheduled for June 14. Meeting agendas and minutes are also available on the city website.
The visioning report developed by city employees was published in April 2015 and is publicly available on the city website at: https://www.ci.patterson.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/3826/Downtown-Visioning-Report?bidId=