The Homeless....President Reagan once said that he believed that many homeless people wanted to be homeless, and his comment drew a wave of criticism across the nation.....Trouble was, he was right....And many communities have come to the same conclusion.....But Homelessness is still a problem....Getting them medical attention, keeping them warm and out of the elements during the winter months, are the primary concerns of many service groups....But how do you help people that dont seem to want to be helped....The city of Ontario thinks it has a possible solution.
I just barely remember Ford's Lunch Counter. It was one those old places on Euclid in Ontario that were either burned down or torn down over the years. It was right near the corner of Euclid and Holt on the same side as the Yanzee Chinese Restaurant.
Anyway, the owner of Ford's was one nefarious guy named Frank Holbart, (The Restaurant was named for Ford Cars) was also known as the guy who refused to serve actress Mae West when she was making a movie in the area....something about her movies being to racy.
ONTARIO - Holt Boulevard has long been in need of a new direction.
The strip malls, trailer parks and ramshackle motels that line much of East Holt aren't representative of the image city officials want to project, but making something happen for the street has been problematic.
Now, after years of neglect, yellow bulldozers are busily paving the way for what will be the biggest project yet to revitalize the road that once connected Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
About 500 condominiums, apartments and senior units will sit above 80,000 square feet of ground-floor retail hugging City Hall at the northeast corner of Holt Boulevard and Euclid Avenue.
City officials hope the Ontario Town Square project, being developed by J.H. Snyder Co., will create a ripple effect - breathing new life into downtown Ontario and whipping a somewhat-troubled Holt Boulevard into shape.
"Holt has a number of issues," said Jim Strodtbeck, the city's redevelopment director. "Many of the buildings are obsolete, many are deteriorating, there are vacant lots, and many businesses are not very viable anymore."
Although the mostly deteriorating buildings and lots along East Holt are far from ideal, conditions were once
In its heyday, Holt was known as part of the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, but when the 10 Freeway came in, the road became much less traveled and fell into neglect.
Lowbrow bars and seedy liquor stores began to dominate the boulevard, and the crime and blight associated with a congregation of such establishments were close behind.
In recent years, however, law enforcement paired with city planners and code-enforcement officers to clean up the street.
"From a police perspective, the area is much better than it was," said police Sgt. John Evans. "So, the city has come a long way."
And soon the boulevard will be buzzing with business and life when retail shops and residents start to occupy Ontario Town Square.
Brent Schultz, director of housing and neighborhood revitalization, said the once thriving downtowns of many cities lost steam with the advent of shopping malls and suburban development in the 1960s and '70s.
The Town Square project is expected to be a major step in the transformation of Ontario's downtown, which generally includes the area from G Street south to the railroad tracks and from Vine Avenue east to Sultana Avenue.
"It will positively impact the downtown area by bringing new residents to the area who are going to have to be able to afford those mortgages," Schultz said. "They'll take ownership of it and have pride in it, so it'll stay nice."
New retailers will be drawn to the area for a built-in clientele of roughly 2,000 residents who will call Ontario Town Square home.
And once the redevelopment project is complete, subsequent projects will likely happen on their own.
"We're initiating the catalyst that will spark the renewal," Mayor Paul Leon said.
"Currently, downtown reflects the demographics and the shops reflect the customer base," Leon said. "As the customer base evolves, other businesses will become attracted to the area and follow suit."
While the project promises brighter days for the downtown area - along with Holt's eventual widening to six lanes - the future of much of East Holt Boulevard is still uncertain.
Strodtbeck said the Ontario Redevelopment Agency has paid for a study of Holt east of Euclid Avenue.
The study will look at which land uses and developments would best suit the street and how the growth of L.A./Ontario International Airport plays into its future.
A major obstacle to large developments along Holt is its long, narrow parcels and various property owners, said Cathy Wahlstrom, principal planner for the city.
Wahlstrom said the study will conclude in the next few months, and recommendations will likely be incorporated into the General Plan update, which is under way.
Ontario Fire Department spokesman Jacob Green said this was the first time in recent history a train derailed.
The Amtrak train derailed north of Airport Drive east of Terminal Way about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Steve Kulm, spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said his agency was investigating.
The Sunset Limited train - which had eight passenger cars and two locomotives - was headed to New Orleans, said Vernae Graham,