Commentary: Peninsula is finally seeing improvement; let's keep the momentum going

Nobody's yet singing "Happy Days Are Here Again," but after many years of seeing city economic development resources and efforts directed elsewhere, residents and business owners on the Balboa Peninsula now have reason to at least whistle an upbeat tune.

Starting with the renovation of the 32nd Street center, now anchored by Pavilions, and continuing through Via Lido Plaza upgrade with new anchor tenant West Marine, the Newport Marina mixed-use development, the new 10-acre Marina Park with a multiuse community center and marina, and the Balboa Boulevard beautification project, all now underway, the peninsula has witnessed a welcome surge in private and public investment.

Coming soon are the planned Lido House Hotel on the old City Hall site, which is before the Planning Commission, and the 15th Street Revitalization Project, which is in the final planning stage following public input sessions.

In addition, the new lifeguard headquarters is now complete, renovations of Lido Marina Village are now underway by its new owner, and ground will soon be broken on Lido Villas town homes on the eastern tip of Lido Village.

Meanwhile, many residential and commercial property owners throughout the area have been renovating and updating their properties, creating the "green shoots" that are so important to lifting the spirits and confidence of other property owners.

It is almost breathtaking to envision the emerging revitalization of our extraordinary community.

The property owners, Councilman Mike Henn and his predecessors, past and current City Councils and the city staff, as well as the members of the community who have worked long and hard with them, are all to be thanked and commended for the revival we're seeing at the western end of the peninsula.

Part of the reason I'm running for the 1st District council seat (Councilman Henn is termed out) is because I want to be part of these exciting changes and help see them through to completion without delay.

But in addition, I would like to take a role in encouraging and moving forward with a similar process that is now underway in the Balboa Village area further down the peninsula.

This area, anchored by the century-old Balboa Pavilion and the Balboa Pier, and served by the nearly century-old Balboa Ferry, is the historic centerpiece of our city. In modern times it has experienced some decline and neglect, but Balboa could once again be the jewel of the harbor.

The Balboa Village Master Plan is on the books, and plans for landscaping and storefront improvements are moving forward thanks to joint efforts of the Balboa Village Advisory Committee and the Balboa Village Merchants Assn. together with the city's planning staff. Adequate parking in Balboa Village and the surrounding residential neighborhood continues to be a challenge that will remain a front-and-center issue.

Again, I look forward to listening to and working with the residents, the Balboa Village Advisory Committee and the Balboa Village Merchants Assn. and city staff to keep the process moving forward in this vital area.

Ironically, images of Balboa Village, in particular the Pavilion and the Fun Zone, are iconic marketing expressions that define our community. We need to continue to support the promise suggested in those attractive photos.

The pillars of my council campaign and my approach to government, based on more than 30 years as a senior executive of a Fortune 300 public company, are fiscal restraint and listening to and engaging with our residents.

The economic revitalization of the peninsula has so far been marked by strategic public expenditure to encourage private investment and has involved the community from the beginning and throughout the process.

We are seeing the benefits of a vital public-private partnership. I hope to be able to keep revitalization going strong on the peninsula and to marshal the tremendous support of residents and business owners committed and eager to build a strong and vibrant community.

Because that will be something we all can sing about.

Businesswoman DIANE DIXON is a candidate for Newport Beach City Council in the 1st District, which includes the Balboa Peninsula. She and her husband, Pat, live on Lido Isle.

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