Completion of the widening of Avenue S, between the Antelope Valley Freeway and 25th Street East, is expected during the year. The $25 million widening is described as the largest public-works project in the city’s history. “That will provide a beautiful entrance to our east side,” Ledford said. City officials also will consider acquiring the 120-year-old Palmdale Cemetery at 20th Street East and Avenue S to clean it up and secure it. Started in the 1880s by Palmdale’s first settlers, the cemetery has a tangled ownership record, and nobody has been taking care of it for years. “We have no interest in being in the cemetery-development game; however, there is an interest in protecting the city’s history,” Ledford said. “You have a rich history out there. The original Palmenthal was in the vicinity of the cemetery.” Palmenthal was founded in the 1880s by German and Swiss immigrants from Nebraska and Illinois. The adjoining cemetery was established in 1885 by the Zion Lutheran Church to serve the settlement. Palmenthal and Palmdale pioneers are buried in the cemetery – some under markers inscribed in German. Palmdale city government acquired 14 acres adjacent to the cemetery, and city leaders have mentioned the possibility of establishing a museum and historical park there. The community’s first school – a one-room schoolhouse built in the 1880s and now located at McAdam Park – might be moved to the proposed historical park, where there also could be exhibits detailing the railroad’s impact on Palmdale’s development. In May, city officials will open a municipal water park, DryTown at the Oasis Park. “That will bring pride to the east side,” Ledford said. “When I talk to kids at schools it’s like, wow, our city has a water park.” A branch library also is proposed at the Oasis Park, but Ledford doesn’t know if that can be developed in 2006. Ledford hopes construction can start in summer on a recreation center for Marie Kerr Park. Public safety, always a main focus, will stay in the spotlight in 2006, especially with the recent addition to the City Council of two law enforcement officers: Tom Lackey, a California Highway Patrol sergeant, and Steve Knight, a Los Angeles Police Department officer. Both made campaign promises to improve public safety. “We’ve got a very good program in place,” Ledford said. “But it’s not enough. Our community wants more.” Knight, who was elected to the City Council in November, has suggested creating a regional detail to handle issues along the city’s 10th Street West retail corridor. Ledford expects Neighborhood Watch and Business Watch programs to be enhanced. Watch groups could be important in disaster preparedness as well as crime prevention, he said. “You will see an enhancement of a grass-roots approach – getting the public to participate,” Ledford said. He expects the city’s retail boom to continue, especially on Palmdale’s east side around 47th Street East and Avenue S. City government’s next major push will be to develop a business park on vacant land at 10th Street West and Avenue M. The lack of water and sewer lines there has killed a number of development proposals over the years. City leaders may establish an assessment district on the property to help get water and sewer lines built, making the land more marketable. In the central part of the city, Ledford said he expects to see groundbreaking for the first phase of the Courson Connection project. A 75-unit housing complex and a new senior center will be in the first phase of a village that will connect the Civic Center and Courson Park. “That will bolster economic development in the central part of the city,” Ledford said. — Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PALMDALE – Mayor Jim Ledford expects 2006 to be a prime example of his favorite saying: There’s more to come. Among priorities for 2006 are grass-roots efforts to fight crime, new park services, retail and industrial growth and an attempt to protect some of the city’s history, the mayor said. Starting the year, Palmdale will publicize itself in the Tournament of Roses Parade with the city’s inaugural float, titled “A Magical Place to Call Home.” “In terms of good feelings, community pride, that warm and fuzzy feeling – it’ll be huge,” Ledford said about the $150,000 float.