A look back at 2021: Good news, bad news in Fontana | News

The New Year has arrived in Fontana, but it feels a lot like the old year. The primary topic on the minds of residents is still, unfortunately, COVID-19.

Last winter, the pandemic peaked in January of 2021 before declining to relatively low levels, thus enabling the city to return to a (still somewhat limited) sense of normalcy. Schools went back to in-person learning and several city-sponsored events took place after having been shut down starting in March of 2020.

However, the recent explosion of infections caused by the Omicron variant has heightened the tension once again, serving as a reminder that the virus remains a major threat. The number of new cases has risen dramatically, and hospitalizations are starting to climb once again as well.

Nevertheless, many residents are determined to move forward with their lives, and leaders at City Hall are wanting to continue making some of the positive strides that they were able to accomplish in 2021.

—– ONE of the biggest achievements for the city last year was the opening of Central City Park, a deluxe 14.5-acre recreational facility. The $14 million park, located at 8380 Cypress Avenue, has two synthetic turf football/soccer fields and one synthetic turf soccer-only field.

The next goal will be to finish another large, long-awaited project, South Fontana Park, which will be located on Santa Ana Avenue between Cypress and Juniper avenues. Construction is slated to start soon, with completion tentatively scheduled for December, according to the city’s website.

—– ANOTHER huge undertaking for the city is the Ventana at Duncan Canyon Specific Plan, which had its groundbreaking in 2021.

The project will feature a 105-acre master-planned, mixed-use community in the northwestern part of the city. Ventana will have a corporate office corridor located adjacent to the Interstate 15 Freeway, both north and south of Duncan Canyon Road. It is slated to include mid-rise offices, multi-story buildings, hotels, quality business restaurants, and other complementary commercial uses, the city’s website said.

—— THE CITY will also be striving to maintain its strong financial situation as it looks for a replacement for Mark Denny, who resigned as city manager in October of last year.

Fontana is expected to benefit greatly from the tens of millions of dollars that have been provided by the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved by Congress in early 2021.

The city recently compiled a list of potential uses of the funds from all departments citywide, and options for the City Council will be presented at a meeting later this month.

The local area will also be receiving some funding from the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed by Congress last November, although viable uses and projects are still to be determined, the city said.

—– IN ADDITION, the city will continue to face some controversy over the ongoing development of warehouse projects.

Some City Council members have repeatedly pushed for more warehouses, saying that logistics centers create much-needed jobs.

However, opponents — including City Councilmember Jesse Sandoval and some residents of southern Fontana — say that the warehouses are producing too much pollution and traffic.

Last July, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit against the city, challenging its approval of the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project which was located next to Jurupa Hills High School.

Responding to the criticism, the City Council instructed city staff to conduct a thorough examination of the city’s air quality. The goal, the city said, will be to create a rigorous warehouse ordinance to enhance air quality improvement measures and standardize requirements for all warehouse developments in Fontana.

It is unclear whether this ordinance, when it is implemented, will satisfy the environmental groups which have lambasted the city over its support for warehouses in recent years.

Mayor Acquanetta Warren and City Councilmembers John Roberts and Phillip Cothran will be up for reelection this November.

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