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Dhaliwal: Goal is for people to work, shop, play in Lathrop

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POSTED February 29, 2012 1:21 a.m.

LATHROP – Sonny Dhaliwal wants to see Lathrop self-contained.

At least when it comes to business, jobs and the ability to provide recreational and dining opportunities for residents that often travel outside of the city limits to shop and take in restaurants.

The Lathrop City Councilman laid out his vision for the future of the community Tuesday morning at a mixer sponsored by the Lathrop District Chamber of Commerce. He focused on the strengths that the city possesses and economic bright spots that people in the business world can relate to.

“The Lathrop I envision, the dream that I have, is that nobody should have to leave the city for anything,” Dhaliwal said to a crowd of just under two dozen. “People should be able to live here, work here, dine here and shop here and that’s not something that I think a lot of people are able to do today.”

One of the key facets of making that possible, Dhaliwal said, will be moving forward with the development of the Central Lathrop region – the land area that surrounds Lathrop High School that was once the promising Richland Communities planned development.

The land deal has since fallen through and has become a toxic albatross around the neck of the city. As soon as that property ends up in the hands of a responsible firm that will do something with it, Dhaliwal says, the sky is the limit for the city in terms of economic possibility.

A change in the way things are viewed, he says, couldn’t hurt.

“The saying is ‘think globally, act locally,’” he said. “Right now we’re thinking regionally and acting locally. We want to create a healthy environment for these opportunities to come together.”

But putting things into their proper perspective, he said, must be a top priority in order to get the true scope of the economic health of both the City of Lathrop and the surrounding communities.

Stockton’s recent financial woes that has the city on the verge of filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy reorganization, he said, has negative impacts on all of the cities in the county.

But that doesn’t mean that all cities are facing the same plight. In just the last few years Lathrop reversed course and went from a projected $15 million deficit to just over $6 million in reserves when future forecast models were laid out.

That, coupled with the 160-plus new businesses that have come to Lathrop since Dhaliwal first joined the council, sends a message that the community is stronger than most people give it credit for, the councilman said.

“Once we take care of Central Lathrop everything else will follow,” Dhaliwal said. “There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. Lathrop is moving in the right direction.”

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