Second of two parts.
The growing pains often associated with the rapid expansion of a city such as Imperial can be mitigated through extensive planning and responsible oversight, city officials indicated in a recent interview.
Examples of actions taken by city officials are creating new infrastructure and taking over authority for Highway 86 and lowering its speed limit.
Imperial has recently granted permits to build nearly 200 new homes. To help accommodate such expansion the city recently improved its water-treatment plant and is in the process of upgrading the wastewater-treatment plant.
“The wastewater facility in the city is old and ancient. It is no longer economical to maintain so we will be building a brand-new state-of-the-art treatment facility,” City Manager Stefan Chatwin said recently.
He explained the plans are to build a type of treatment facility known as a membrane bio-reactor in which the entire process is maintained within the plant. It will be built on the same site as the current facility on North N Street.
“It is a $15 million-plus project paid for out of user fees. Water and sewer rates were raised in anticipation of the construction,” Chatwin added.
Imperial also has some commercial developments on the horizon, noted Alexis Chalupnik, city public affairs officer.
“We have three new sites for marketplace retail. One is right next to Frank Wright Middle School (at Highway 86 and 15th Street). Another site is next to city hall (at Sixth Street and South Imperial Avenue), which is moving forward,” she said.
Chalupnik added, “The other site is the entire parcel next to the movie theater (The Movies at Highway 86 and Wall Avenue). As we go through planning for the future of city of Imperial, we plan to potentially signalize Wall (and Highway 86).”
Meanwhile, Imperial County’s first cannabis dispensary recently opened at 2433 Marshall Ave. The March and Ash boutique sells medicinal cannabis and for now is the only cannabis operation permitted by the city.
“Our first day was great. We had a steady flow of customers all day. We invite anyone to come in and see the store even if they are not a customer,” said Spencer Andrews, company public affairs director.
Perhaps the least popular of Imperial’s changes was the lowering of the speed limit on Highway 86 to 45 miles per hour from Ralph to Treshill roads. Motorists are notified by lighted signs.
“There has been a lot of complaints from the public, but the amount of development that you are going to see in that area is going to increase traffic,” Chatwin said. “Lowering the speed limit is to create a safer environment. It was a decision the city made as we took a look at the needs, growth and safety of our residents.”