At Wednesday’s Martinez City Council meeting, outgoing Councilmember Noralea Gipner gave a farewell address. Gipner was elected in 2016 but lost to Brianne Zorn in the 2020 District 3 contest. After Gipner’s goodbye remarks, Zorn was sworn in as the newest Councilmember.
Here is the text of Gipner’s remarks :
This will be the last time I get to talk for more than three minutes at a time in City Hall, so here goes.
I would like to congratulate Brianne for her win of the District 3 City Council seat. I look forward to watching your achievements during your tenure and I wish you much luck with the bucket list that you hope to achieve.
Thank you to the citizens of Martinez for trusting and electing me 4 years ago to the City Council and giving me the opportunity to learn so much about how City Hall works and how the government operates. I came in thinking I could actually get more done than reality would ever let me. But probably the hardest thing was to accept that things just don’t move quickly in government. Then if issues arise, it stops everything that you and everyone else have worked on. Now that takes patience…and I did develop some.
I would also like to thank staff at our Corporation Yard, Public Works, Water Treatment Plant, Building, Engineering, Community and Economic Development, Finance, Human Resources, Recreation, IT, Administrative Services, and the Police Department for learning to trust my FAMOUS direct personality, and one who asks hundreds of questions. I know I scared a whole lot of you at first (as I scare myself sometimes too), and actually had to apologize a few times for hurting some feelings, but we all adjusted to each other, being very productive and things ran smoothly. I think we developed a very nice relationship in the four years I’ve been here. I will miss you all.
Martinez is very fortunate to have a staff that is dedicated to improving our city no matter how few in number they may be, they work their buns off around the clock. And really all they asked for is to be treated with respect and patience, especially during this pandemic. Thank you all for what you do for our city.
Now, I’d like to talk about some of my projects and accomplishments before I say goodbye as they all feel like my babies and I am most proud of them.
-The red zones on the corners of Alhambra Avenue and Brown Street were extended and accidents, which were happening weekly, very seldom happen now.
-Yield signs and stop signs were placed on Castro Street from Jones to Brown Street. Before that it was like a speedway and many accidents happened in that area on a regular basis.
-I was able to help so many individuals with problems. That was very rewarding.
-Established the styrofoam recycling program in Martinez that in just a couple of years grew beyond belief.
-Established a bi-weekly City Council booth at farmers market that is on a break until covid is gone.
-Successfully ran Measure X and was able to keep our city services level and address a lot of our police shortfalls because of it.
-I was on the baseball adhoc committee that brought a great sport to our community. It was Covid that stopped the season from happening for our Sturgeons. I pray they return next year.
-Being the City liaison for Main Street and Chamber of Commerce was very rewarding – helping to make an impact when they were in need. I am proud that they are surviving the hardships of the pandemic with very little fundraising means. They are the backbone of our current economic development department. In fact, they are all we have, literally.
There are many more things I could talk about. But instead I’ll talk about my last and most important accomplishments and those are the weekly showers we have for our homeless population and the amphitheater encampment for our homeless population during the pandemic. These accomplishments are the result of the partnerships between our Police Department, this City Council, non-profits and faith-based groups in Martinez, and other kind folks.
The weekly showers are held at the parking lot next to Norcal Sports. Bay Church provides the showers, Passion to the Street provides food, my non-profit, Homeless Action Coalition, provides the clothing exchange program, County Health service provider for medical needs, and our County CORE team provide direction to services. Our police department is there every week supervising. Sometimes we have other services that show up. It truly has changed the appearance of our homeless population and how they feel
about themselves. Also they have learned to trust us and build relationships. Many have gotten help from our core team that shows up every week. It also gives our police dept. time to build relationships with our homeless population, as they are part of our community too. You get more cooperation being kind.
My last accomplishment I will talk about is the amphitheater. A Shelter-in-Place encampment has been there since the middle of March, and it is very much a work in progress, being built with blood, sweat and tears. We are up to an average of 30 people. We’ve grown to something rather sophisticated. We won a grant this summer for the encampment and recently received a certificate of recognition from our CC Homeless Council.
We have two areas that I call the kitchen. We’re able to cook very basic stuff. And we have refrigeration and a coffee area and a clean-up area. We have tents for everybody that they
can actually stand up in. And we now have built platforms out of wood so they’re not sitting in the rain during winter. the tents are attached to the platforms so they will not blow away. We have weekly meetings and talk about issues, new happenings, and open comment. The residents do chores. There are porta-potties with wash stations, and a dumpster. There are rules and there are consequences for breaking the rules too many times.
The folks here receive services from CORE on a regular basis. Consequently, we are able to move people out into hotels, shared housing, rehab programs and other services. We are building a community who watch over each other and
help each other. Certainly they’re not perfect, but the change in each person has been amazing to watch. They all have safe shelter for the first time in a very long time and have stayed COVID FREE.
For the last few months we have been working very hard to become the poster child for the fire department. We have put in fire extinguishers every 75 feet throughout the encampment, smoke detectors in everybody’s tents and a whole lot of other safety measures. The fire department is happy. In fact, they would like to showcase the amphitheater to other communities and show what an encampment should look like, one that follows safety guidelines from the department.
We also work with the police department; they have regular walk-throughs. We also keep the inside and the outside of the amphitheater clean of yard debris. To satisfy the fire department, we pruned trees away from the tents and cleaned up years of pine needles that built up on the outside. We also maintain the shrubbery on the inside.
You can see from my list that I’m good at getting things done; that has always been my forte. And it has been my pleasure to do that for my community at a level of volunteering I never thought was possible. I have often dreamed of being on council and trying to help out, but never really thought it was possible. So I CAN check that off my bucket list. THANK YOU ALL.
I will now focus more on our homeless population here in Martinez and try and make an impact in their lives and ours.
Also, I’ll go back to having a life with my husband and friends. Get back to my hobbies of sewing, cooking, gardening and traveling someday when COVID IS THROUGH.
Thank you for all the love and support I received during my term. Peace, Love, and Puka Shells to all.