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A ‘different path' for revitalizing Marysville
After just 10 weeks in Marysville, City Manager Walter Munchheimer presented last Thursday his evaluation of the city's assets, and a general strategy for reincarnation.
Growth is unlikely for Marysville, he said.
"A different path to prosperity must be found," he told 60 or so residents, business owners and community leaders who had come to the Caltrans District 3 headquarters to hear him speak in the middle of a work day.
That path should include, according to Munchheimer, a thorough inventory of land ownership and detailed value assessment of everything that lies within five commercially viable districts in Marysville.
Those districts — Marysville's historic downtown, its Highway 70/E Street corridor, hospital or "medical arts" district, Ellis Lake area and river access areas — should be at the heart of a long-term plan to attract new business to carefully targeted areas.
Maintaining consistency in land use within those districts, ideally, would make it easier for consumers and multiple generations of investors to do business within the city.
Munchheimer's assessment and roadmap come at an epochal moment for the historic Gold Rush city. Four decades of economic decline, worsened recently by the recession, leave the city operating under a $118,000 deficit with no relief on the horizon.
"Regrettably, the last four decades have not been all that kind to Marysville — that must be hard to take," Munchheimer told his audience last week.
The reference dates back, roughly, to the time when city leaders took down a dozen historic buildings to build Mervyns department store in the heart of the downtown retail district.
Mervyns became Marysville's primary source of retail sales tax revenue, and served that role for more than 30 years. But the chain went belly up in 2009.
Subsequent efforts to develop new retail space have been marginally successful, at best.
And as nearby Yuba City has been able to expand geographically during the era of box-store economies, Marysville — with its circle of levees — has not.
Over time, Marysville's businesses "soon began to pull up stakes and relocate across the river, starting a slow steady decline in the commercial fortunes of the community," Munchheimer noted in his address last week.
Now, what the city needs, he said, "is a clear path forward to at least reverse the slide."
With a lot of work and a little luck, the city's leaders, residents and business owners will be able to remake itself into, "a sustainable community."