Downtown Hemet and its long road to revitalization

W■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Reporter
hen I visit downtown Hemet, I see potential to celebrate our valley’s native heritage, the multi-ethnic community we have grown into and the agricultural prosperity on which we were founded. The completion of our downtown as a means of strengthening the current pulse of our city would have an immense impact — not just on the economy but on the pride of what we leave our children. Our downtown has suffered. Our city has suffered. The progression of our community has suffered. City leadership has closed off the talent and rich ideas of our people.
One of my daughters is under the age of five and has wanted to be nothing but a Hemet firefighter for the last two years. Our children have foresight. They know where they want to serve. They know where they want to be. We have a duty as adults and as our children’s caretakers to finally finish what was started in the way that serves our children and instills within them the pride of the town in which they grew up.
How about building a multi-story science museum that serves toddlers to young adults? With the Western Center Academy nearby, it can’t be too much of a stretch. This way there can be something that is affordable and educational for our youth to do downtown while ensuring that the downtown stays family-friendly. Our city has passion, compassion and talent that I believe is second to none. The people of our city need to know that they matter; that their children matter and their future is prosperous. For the most part, I see an ethnically bankrupt downtown, not in the communities that surround our downtown but in the downtown itself.
The impact of a Metrolink Station here in Hemet would be positively strategic as it would open the local economy and increase cultural wealth. I have visited the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) website, spoken with someone at RCTC and someone on the Metrolink Board. A Metrolink station is not yet on the books to come to Hemet. We need a brilliant plan to get others to invest in our downtown, transit included.
Here is the reality of where our project stands. We have placed ideas on paper with zoning edits, signage, parks, walking trails and outdoor dining potential. Creating a walkable downtown promotes community as residents are able to get out and meet other community members. Planning Commissioner John Gifford is not the only person who wants to know the estimated cost and potential funding. I am certain that he is committed to see our downtown project completed. However, without proper funding the project is set up for failure. I have seen the renderings of what was going to be a civic center that joined the Hemet Public Library with the Hemet Police Station at city hall during a meeting with then Economic Development Director John Jansons. The project ran out of money. No one wants to see that happen again.
The very first thing that should have been done was determine a budget based on the grants our city would be able to obtain. Then, create the plan based on that budget. This way, the people of Hemet are confident that a completed project is on its way. I hope we are not setting ourselves up for failure once again and we can finally complete this long-awaited project.

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