Fine wine takes time | May 29, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Perspective - May 29, 2009

Fine wine takes time

It was too bad that the Alamo Danville Artists' Society could not reopen its Pioneer Art Gallery in the vacant old Danville Hotel Restaurant, but the old building needed too much work to be economical as a temporary site for the artists. Most of the businesses have vacated the old 1950s Danville Territories with its false fronts and old western look although the Flower Shoppe recently moved into one of the vacant stores facing Prospect Avenue.

The economy has delayed development of this and other locations in town but don't be discouraged. Take heart from the success story of two other long-term projects: the Iron Horse Trail, and the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, which opened 10 years ago, some 15 years after the museum group was established to search out the perfect site. The story of the museum effort is detailed in this week's cover story (page 12) and Presenting the Past column (page 16).

As for the Iron Horse Trail, the last Southern Pacific train ran on the San Ramon Branch Line through Danville in 1978 but it wasn't until 2001 that the Trail was completed in the San Ramon Valley. In those 23 years, extensive debates took place about the proper use of the railroad route, including for a light rail system. Early on, some folks hit on the idea of preserving the corridor for walking, biking and horseback riding, and Danville and San Ramon agreed to keep the right of way undeveloped.

Only through the efforts of many concerned residents was the trail eventually paved to become the popular recreation and transportation avenue it is today, maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District. The trail will eventually reach from Suisun Bay to Livermore, some 33 miles, traversing 12 cities in two counties. The coordination to put together this trail is mind-boggling. But it didn't happen overnight. When the railroad was first closed down, several scenarios evolved and many debates took place over its best use, including developing the 20-foot-wide swath of land.

In another public effort, the Veterans Memorial Building is currently undergoing the same extensive scrutiny, which gives us confidence that it will be as successful as the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in its usage and its appearance. The public process may seem to take a long time but Danville benefits from debating every aspect of a development - hence its success stories.