GREENFIELD — The beginning of the new year marked the 74th birthday for the City of Greenfield, which observed the milestone during an era of Covid-19 restrictions preventing a similar birthday to years prior when cake and coffee would be available at city hall.
Instead, the city has plans for a potential 75th birthday celebration next year.
“If the time is right for the 75th, we want to do it up right,” said Mayor Lance Walker. “With all the restrictions and Covid, we didn’t do anything this year.”
The birthday of the city came from the renaming on Jan. 7, 1947, when the city officially became Greenfield. Prior to that, Clark Colony was formed in the early 1900s, which eventually became Clark City before the change closer to mid-century.
“So many people think Greenfield was named because of the green fields, but that’s not the case,” Walker said. “It was after Edward Greenfield, a longtime settler.”
The land for the first school in the city was purchased from Edward Greenfield, when Romie School District was formed after an April 16, 1906, purchase of a lot where Mary Chapa School currently sits. That first lot was sold for the price of $33.75 and housed two classrooms with a library between them.
“The Clark Colony Water Company still holds 1916 prior rights guaranteeing delivery to its members a certain amount of water from the Arroyo Seco River before any other agencies’ use of the river water,” Walker said about the legacies left by the city’s original formation.
Today, the City of Greenfield and Clark Colony Water work together under an agreement to maintain local control of water. Walker explained that this means other cities cannot tell the city what to do with their own water, sourced from the Arroyo Seco River.
According to Walker, land prices were a note of interest, as the original April 1905 formation of 4,000 acres in Clark Colony were sold for an average price of $37.50 per acre. He said Clark Colony installed the largest irrigation and domestic water supply system in all of the Salinas Valley at that time.
Mixing history with the future, Walker noted how his comments online caused mention of Luis De Leon being Greenfield’s first elected mayor in 1986. Before then, the mayor was an appointed position.
The city is due to shift to a district system for city council elections, meaning the mayor position will likely change by the time of the next general election.
“De Leon was the first elected mayor by the people and there’s a 99% chance I’m going to be the last mayor elected by the people,” Walker said.
The council will soon determine how to select a mayor in future years, since the current system of having a mayor run for election at large will not work with districts. Walker said the most likely solutions would be to have the council appoint the mayor again, or to have a rotating mayor by district.
“I don’t see anymore of the mayors in Greenfield elected by the people anymore,” Walker said. “It’s going to have to be like King City.”
Also looking to the future, Walker said development at Yanks Airport would continue into 2021 after many construction projects went through pandemic-related delays during 2020.
Housing projects are in the works too, as is the city’s continued work to get a new gas station and possible truck stop. The city’s first cannabis dispensary was approved last year and is expected to open in 2021, as well.