“It’s hard to get a vision when you’re in a crisis,” facilitator Bill Mathis said Wednesday night as he led the City Council through a goal-setting session in which expectations were purposely set low.
Facing an $800,000 deficit next year, there were no big ideas that emerged from the session, though all agreed that the city needs to work harder on improving its image to the outside world. How to do that and how much to spend on it was a point of contention.
Councilman Mark Ross suggested spending some time and money developing a strong brand for Martinez, incorporating a number of the city’s assets into a logo or other branding mechanism that would bolster the city’s image. But that idea was not received well by everyone.
“It seems a bit frivolous to me,” said Councilman Mike Menesisni. “I have a hard time thinking I have to go out and convince someone I’m a wonderful person.”
“You do that every four years,” quipped Vice Mayor Janet Kennedy.
“I don’t like the idea that we can distill Martinez down to a salable slogan,” said Councilwoman Lara DeLaney. “We are Martinez, we are the Alhambra Valley, we are the Italian Village, we are the horse farms, we are the new houses in the south. We’re all those things.”
“We are who we are,” said Menesini. “Putting stuff out on the Internet, I don’t know that’s going to change things. If you’re an investment banker, you put real money on the table because you have an opportunity to get it back, plus a little more. That’s the reality.”
In the end, the council decided that developing a sports complex in a former warehouse near the waterfront was a priority, as was repairing the marina and finding a tenant for the Court Street building the city owns. Other priorities are wayside horns to help reduce the noise of trains passing through the city, paving residential streets, finding a new corporation yard and painting the old train depot on Ferry Street.