As you’ve probably guessed by now, the City of Turlock is not building a bowling alley.
Today’s big “news” story was, indeed, our little April Fools’ joke. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the first letter of each sentence actually spells out “April Fools,” that the development’s name translates to “Fictional Lanes,” and that the “Bowling Alley Czar” was noted prankster Jonathan Swift.
But it’s a joke we made for a reason – to bring attention to just how development happens in the City of Turlock.
Readers often blame “the City” for not building them a bowling alley, or for building dollar stores rather than entertainment venues. But we wanted to make clear that the City of Turlock doesn’t build anything in town, except for streets, parks, and a small handful of city-owned buildings.
The City of Turlock’s job is to designate “zones” of land. So, for instance, city planners say that commercial development should go on Monte Vista Avenue, or that homes should be built in North Turlock.
Then it’s up to private developers to actually build those shopping centers and neighborhoods.
The City of Turlock is well aware that the public wants a bowling alley, a Trader Joe’s, and a Whole Foods Market. But the city can’t force developers to build here. They can’t require a chain to locate here.
Similarly, once an area is zoned, the city’s hands become somewhat tied.
Take a look at the recent Dollar General which went in on Geer Road, in the home of the former Hollywood Video. Many TurlockCityNews.com readers were upset that yet another “dollar store” was coming to Turlock (note, Dollar General is more of a mini-Walmart than a Dollar Store), but it’s a valid commercial use.
When a commercial use wants to move in to a vacant commercial building, there’s little that the city can do. It’s what the land was intended – and zoned – for.
The City of Turlock actually made a recent exception to its zoning policy in efforts to attract a bowling alley, the Ten Pin Fun Center which is slated to be developed near the intersection of Monte Vista Avenue and Dels Lane. That land was zoned for residential development, but was switched to commercial zoning upon the developers’ request and because the city knows residents want a bowling alley.
Unfortunately, the financing fell through for the multi-million dollar Ten Pin Fun Center. Developers are still trying to secure a new financier. That’s not the city’s fault.
TurlockCityNews.com apologizes to those who were misled by our April Fools’ prank. But we hope this joke, perhaps, empowered a few readers with the knowledge of how development works, and how a bowling alley really could be built in Turlock.