One doesn’t usually start a wish list with a thank you note, but this year it’s required.
A special shout-out to our state legislators for ensuring Merced gets funding to:
1) Complete the campus expressway;
2) Extend the ACE train to Merced;
3) Help expand Amtrak service;
4) Address the continuing homeless problem.
While I’m at it, thanks to the entire community for passing Measure V last year to fix our roads. Mercedians saw this as a “V for Vendetta” kind of thing and it’s nice to see crews already at work repaving and patching!
With these gifts happily in hand, I’ve got another Christmas Wish List just for Merced.
Gustatory additions – While Merced is blessed with some terrific restaurants, we surely could use more variety. A hofbrau, maybe Greek, fish and fusion restaurants would be welcome additions. We could also use a Dust Bowl-type brewery specializing in brats. Oh, and a New York-style deli would be like “buttah” on a bagel.
A Wine Bar – A jazzy stopping-off place could precede a visit to these new eateries! Such a venue would be classy. Or, more succinctly, a lovely aperitif addition. Cheers!
Whole Foods – My request for a Trader Joe’s two years ago hasn’t yet come to fruition, so maybe Whole Foods could open shop here sooner than later. Merced needs more farm-to-fresh and/or organic retail and grocery store choices.
Stop Nitwit Protests – As a child of the ‘60s, I understand the power and importance of protest. However, accusatory protests centered on identity politics irrespective of freedom of speech can be facile, inane and destructive to democracy. Political strategy should embrace give-and-take exchanges and compromise, not becoming an effort to shout down opponents or threaten them into silence. Organizers really need to think through their events.
Arthouse Theater – College towns all seem to foster a theater that shows up to seven different movies a week. Art films, classics, shorts and documentaries are genres we just can’t get on the big screens around here. With UC Merced now 12 years old, it’s time!
Big Name Entertainment – Speaking of entertainment, the Merced Theatre, Merced Fair and even the UC should not settle for booking only B and C level entertainers. It’s time to bring in some A-listers. How in the world can Turlock book Judy Collins and Stephen Stills at its small community theatre but we can’t at our gorgeously restored Merced Theatre? Also, I think we need more variety than just country and comedy.
What’s in a Name? – A lot! Merced should establish a policy to name new streets, parks and areas after local historical figures such as artists, educators, veterans and politicians who have contributed to our community. Please, let’s not name things for imponderable reasons, like Lakeside Drive (where there are no lakes in sight). By now, something in Merced – school, road, room at the arts center – should have been named in honor of Ansel Adams!
Path to Yosemite – A few years back, there was a push to open the old Yosemite Valley Railroad roadbed as a hiking and biking path to Yosemite. It would be terrific if we could seek a right of way to connect a hiking trail from UC Merced to Yosemite incorporating part of the old YVR route.
Christmas Tree Lane – Fresno has Christmas Tree Lane. Sacramento has its “Fabulous 40s” Christmas display. Merced has a mishmash of holiday decorations. It would be wonderfully festive if residents in an area of town (like 21st Street, hint, hint) would work together to put on an annual display like Sacramento’s Fab 40s.
Peace and Goodwill – I will end the way I started, with a thank you – to all those who have given a hand to someone in need or just encouragement to veterans, teachers and those on the many front lines of our community. Thank you, God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Marc Medefind is a retired Merced educator and journalist. He wrote this for the Merced Sun-Star.