I thank, through your newspaper, the City of Madera’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and, in particular, its outstanding director, Jim Taubert, for years of extraordinary improvements in the City of Madera (although, personally, I could do without the medians on Yosemite near Gateway that cause traffic delays at the traffic light). While the California Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the other two branches of government to do away with redevelopment agencies, the consequences of that decision will not happen overnight. And, Mr. Taubert, as well as his bosses, the Madera City Council, will continue to be involved. That means that the transformation of the RDA and its assets will happen in an orderly fashion according to law and common sense, I trust.
I’ve known Jim since he first moved to Madera a generation ago to manage the Madera District Chamber of Commerce. He and I began talking about a new courthouse in downtown Madera when I became a judge in 1998. Much has changed since then. The State of California has become responsible for the costs of constructing a new courthouse, relieving Madera County of that burden. The state has put Madera at the top of its list to replace condemned court facilities with new courthouses. The money for the project has been raised by court-user fees to leverage low-cost construction bonds. We are on target to open that four-story courthouse in downtown Madera, south of the Madera Courthouse Museum, in 2014. We could not have done it without Jim Taubert, the Madera Redevelopment Agency, and the Madera City Council.
It was the RDA that acquired the land for the construction site, oversaw the relocation of underground pipes, and, with the help of recession-related depressed construction costs, will allow us to build that courthouse and a three-story parking garage on site for the original cost estimated to just build the courthouse without a parking garage. The court also plans to invite local contractors to participate in meetings with state officials in 2012 to encourage local job creation in the construction of the courthouse. I attribute these yet-to-be-derived benefits to the hard work of Jim and the RDA. It has been Jim’s vision, adopted by the Madera City Council, to use the new courthouse downtown to help revitalize downtown Madera south of Yosemite Avenue and west of Highway 99. It’s what Jim and I talked about nearly 14 years ago.
Jim Taubert has proven to be a man of vision and a man of his word — something rather rare these days. Thank you, Jim.