Downtown area feeling ignored by City

Imperial Valley

Downtown area feeling ignored by City

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CALEXICO, CALIF. (13 On Your Side) - With the opening of the new outlet mall in Calexico, mom and pop shops in the downtown area are feeling ignored. 

They accuse the city of shifting its funding to the new development even after they've cried out for help for years. Now, they say, they want the city to take action. 

"The general feel is…we're feeling a little abandoned here," says Gregory Gelman, who owns a pharmacy in downtown and is part of the Business Improvement District.

He says, he's become more involved with improving the area because it lacks attention. 

"You can tell by looking around that we need a lot of work to be done in downtown. It's dirty, it's not nice. Unfortunately it's the first thing people see when they come across the border."

Gelman says alleys smell like urine, garbage is scattered all over the floor and sidewalks go without being repaired. 

He says the city has not listened to their pleas for help to improve the area since the planning and opening of the Gran Plaza Outlets mall. 

"There's no money being put in, there's no projects being discussed for downtown," says Gelman.

13 On Your Side took the concerns of business owners to Mayor Bill Hodge. We asked if their complaints are valid. 

"Their complaints and their frustrations. their sense of being put to the side - they are absolutely correct. I'm not making any apologies - they have been neglected," says Hodge. 

He admits the city has focused on the Gran Plaza Outlets because it's created an opportunity to grow the city by bringing more jobs. Still, we asked Hodge what he plans to do to clean up downtown. 

"We're going to do a master plan. Stage one, which is immediate goals; stage two, medium goals and stage three, which is long time goals," Hodge explains. 

He says cleaning up downtown will take money but he plans to bring the issue up for discussion at city council. 

"I  know it was a different animal. But if there was money for Gran Plaza, we can find innovative ways to get money for downtown." 

In the meantime, Gelman says small businesses will not give up trying to get the city's attention.

"Maybe this year we'll have better luck at it."