LIVERMORE -- The new Paragon Outlets mall, gang graffiti and the regional theater were among the diverse topics discussed by Livermore's mayor at his first State of the City address.
Mayor John Marchand and city staff provided a wide-ranging overview of city issues and fielded questions from the audience Aug. 30 at the Civic Center Library. The forum was designed to give residents an easy way to access city officials, Marchand said.
"This is a first step -- to invite people in to begin to have a conversation," he said.
Despite a tough last fiscal year that saw Livermore lose about 20 percent of its revenues, the city has managed to maintain core services, hire additional police officers and operate with 100 fewer employees than five years ago, he told the crowd of about 60 people.
"We have tremendous people working in this organization," Marchand said.
Marchand also gave listeners the latest on new businesses in town, including the French bakery Casse-Croute, as well as My Hot Cars, both of which opened in June. Walgreens will open in October, with 24-Hour Fitness following later in the year. A Toyota dealership is scheduled to open in 2013.
The upcoming star of the show, though, will be the 550,000-square-foot Paragon Outlets mall, with 120-plus stores, that will open Nov. 8 on the south side of Interstate 580 at the El Charro exit.
"It's absolutely stunning," Marchand said. "It had booked 65 percent (of its tenants)
Other topics covered included public safety. Marchand told the crowd the city has reactivated its gang task force, as well as given training to all police officers in gang interdiction.
Police estimate there are about 40 active gang members in the city, most between the ages of 15 and 25, he said, adding that residents are urged to report graffiti so it can be removed by city workers and local volunteers.
On the topic of the proposed $146 million regional theater approved by the City Council, some crowd members questioned the wisdom of pursuing it.
Marchand reminded them that the 2,000-seat theater plan has been approved by the city and assured them that "We will not put the general fund at risk."
A few audience members claimed the general fund has already been put at risk and wondered if the theater issue could be put to a vote.
"The agreement was signed in February of 2011," Marchand said. "You can't put it to a vote at this point. But there are milestones and pro forma that must be met."