Editor’s note: This is the seventh and final installment of a multi-part series on the history of Old Town Clovis, as told by Larry W. Gamble, a member of the Central Clovis Steering Committee in the 1980s. The committee provided input to the City Council on what would eventually become Old Town Clovis.
The physical environment and welcoming atmosphere of Old Town Clovis have added much to B.O.O.T.’s success. In 1983, the City of Clovis originated and adopted the Specific Plan to renovate the Old Town. They succeeded in creating an area of beauty and quaint qualities so inviting and comfortable to visitors.
The city accomplished this through the use of Tax Allocations Bonds and tax increment. The Clovis Community Development Agency has spent nearly $10 million on Old Town Clovis improvements:
▪ Streetscape — landscape brick sidewalks and crosswalks, curb and gutter, streets, decorative street lamps, benches and storm drains ($4.5 million)
▪ Parking Lots — three lots totaling more than 390 spaces ($3.9 Million)
▪ New restrooms adjacent to the museum ($230,000)
▪ Storefront Improvements Grants — 65 grants to improve private storefronts to meet Old Town design guidelines ($346,200)
▪ Storefront Improvement Grants — four loans to improve private buildings that require more than cosmetic exterior improvements ($80,000)
▪ Marketing — contracts with the Business Organization of Old Town Clovis to market the businesses within the Parking and Improvement Business Area (P.B.I. A.) ($663,021), an average of about $20,000 per year which was in part provided by Old Town Clovis business license fees.
Unfortunately, with the impact of the 2008 Economic Recession, the following changed were instituted: “As of Feb. 1, 2012, the Clovis Community Development Agency, (CCDA), a California redevelopment agency automatically dissolved and the City of Clovis opted to become the successor agency to the RDA pursuant to ABx1 26. The authority and obligations of the former RDA along with all of its non-housing related assets, property, contracts, leases, books and records were transferred to and thereafter vested in the Successor Agency. The Successor Agency is now charged with liquidating the assets of the former RDA, paying off the former RDA’s debts, and generally winding down the affairs of the former RDA.”
As of this time, financial sources for funding the maintenance of the original improvements and future enhancements to Old Town Clovis may be at risk, but we are optimistic.
It is not only the buildings and streetscapes that attract people to Old Town Clovis. The other organizations and the novelty of their events also create interest and customer satisfaction.
B.O.O.T. is not alone in organizing successful events of Old Town Clovis. Two other outstanding community organizations have enhanced the importance of the city and the area as a great destination. Those groups are the Clovis Chamber of Commerce and the Clovis Rodeo Association.
The Chamber of Commerce offers a variety of projects and events. Their offices are located in the old Carnegie Library in Old Town. Street events include: Big Hat Days and Clovis Fest (both two-day events). They are also responsible for many other worthwhile programs and represent all of the businesses in the community.
The Clovis Rodeo Association presents an annual world famous rodeo and parade each April. Their first rodeo was held in 1914. The parade route is along Pollasky Street and Clovis Avenue through the heart of Old Town. Many people and international visitors attend these events and visit the stores.
There were and are obviously many other members of B.O.O.T. too numerous to mention. But here are a few others that come to mind: Cora Shipley, who, along with her husband Bill, own not one, but several Old Town businesses. Cora has served for many years on the B.O.O.T. executive board as both director and president. It was once noted, “As Old Town is the heart of Clovis, Cora is the heart of Old Town.” That is so true.
Rand Holecek, a former member of the board, almost single-handedly resuscitated the organization from the brink of financial disaster during an economic recession.
Marty Watt served on the board; his constructive criticism keeps us focused on problem-solving and marketing opportunities.
Ken and Sandi Schulte, another dynamic couple, have continually encouraged and inspired us to greater achievements.
Pat and Larry Grossi always support the organization and are relentless in volunteering many long hours when work needs to be accomplished.
Les and Marjorie Sassano challenged us to be the best. Their son Greg continues the Sassano family tradition by challenging us with new ideas.
Bill Sauter was present and active in the formative years of the organization. And so many other business owners, volunteers and corporate sponsors of our events.
While B.O.O.T., the Chamber, and the Rodeo Association have been extremely successful, it is important to remember that each organization sponsors their own events. Yet the primary goal is the same: to attract many hundreds of thousands of visitors to promote Clovis as “A Way of Life” and a great place to live, work and raise a family.
After a somewhat rocky beginning, the contentious attitude on the part of some members of the organization began to wane. More and more member businesses began to work together to everyone’s mutual benefit. Optimism replaced reticence and that attitude opened broad vistas of opportunity. The scenery never looked better along Pollasky Avenue. The brick streets and tree-lined sidewalks reflect our spirit in color and design; rays of light from the antique, glossy black light fixtures shine through the darkness creating shimmering hope for the future. A spirit of dedication and cooperation prevail within the hearts and minds of the merchants in Old Town.
We are finally working together and accomplishing more than we ever thought possible.
Obviously, the most important ingredient to our success is you, the people of Clovis and greater Central California. We are so grateful you come and enjoy our community. You are the ones who most certainly maintain and assure our economic vitality. We hope you come often and enjoy your visit. Stop by to say “hi” along Pollasky Avenue to one of our favorite hometown characters, “Festus.”
I am honored to have shared a few of my memories about the early history of B.O.O.T. I trust you enjoyed meeting the other characters who helped create Old Town Clovis.