Taxi cabs head north on Rockwood Avenue between First and Second streets on the newly reopened street on Monday morning, Nov. 27. Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the Rockwood Promenade was temporarily reopened by the Calexico City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 22. | DELFINO MATUS PHOTO
CALEXICO — As Calexico Public Works Department staff put up stop signs and painted white parking stripes and some new areas of red curbing along Rockwood Avenue on Monday morning, Nov. 27, vehicles belonging to holiday shoppers were quickly filling up previously unreachable spaces.
Downtown Calexico merchants and employees alike said they were excited to see the return of how the area used to be before the Rockwood Promenade, which the Calexico City Council temporarily removed on Wednesday night, Nov. 22, following months of outcry from members of the public and especially the business community.
“It is the holiday season. I think that it is good that they opened the street. Christmas time brings a lot of shoppers. Even though the city tells us our clients come walking from the border, many of our customers drive across the border and come (to) park here in front of our stores,” said Barbara Ayala of the Diez or Less shop on Rockwood.
“Right now, seeing that many cars are parked, we hope our sales will improve. Our stores are stocked and ready for the Christmas season,” Ayala said. “People had been complaining because they closed the street and had to park on Second Street. I think that if it is always open, it will benefit us.”
City workers removed the K-rails on Friday, Nov. 24 and finished on Saturday, Nov. 25. The parking meters were reinstalled that day as well. Crews had to restore the parking lines that were removed with the opening of the promenade. The parking spaces were set at angles on the south end of the block and most of the parking spots were already taken. On the north side of the block, where the street mural is located, no lines were marked yet but people were parallel parking there and those spots filled up fast as well.
Delivery trucks were once again able to pull up in front of the shops and quickly unload merchandise, something that took a bit of figuring out and more effort in the approximately nine months the Rockwood Promenade closed off the streets between First and Second. Before, delivery people had to make their way through crowded sidewalks.
“Excellent, perfect, all good, is my point of view as an employee of this store. If things go well for the boss, then things go well for me. I’ve been working here for seven years. More than half of our sales were affected. This store used to sell a lot of shoes and now we sell much less. About 50 percent less,” Guadalupe Delgadillo of Casa Girasol said of the reopening of Rockwood Avenue.
“With the holiday season here, we are hoping to get a boost in sales,” Delgadillo said. “I am happy the traffic is back and that the street looks full.”
Merchants were ready to talk about the Christmas shopping season in hopes that sales would give their struggling businesses the sizable holiday sales bump to make up for the last several months of poor performance. The experience of the promenade closure is something the merchants are hoping does not happen again, although it is uncertain whether they realize the reopening of Rockwood is temporary while a new plan is devised by the city.
“If we had all gotten together, we could have come up with something better,” downtown business owner Rosa Alcala said. “Collaboration is essential for tackling complex problems, and I think we could have achieved a much better result if we had worked together.”