Part 2: KIMA checks city manager's progress after 2 years on job in Yakima

Part 2: KIMA checks city manager's progress after 2 years on job in Yakima
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima's city manager is embarking on his third year in office. On Wednesday, KIMA sat down with Tony O'Rourke and talked about improvements to the airport and downtown revitalization. KIMA continues the discussion about downtown, and improving the city's image, which starts with public safety.

Ensuring that you feel safer is a top priority for our city. We've made good progress last year with a 20 percent drop in crime. But, still have a long way to go.

"A very aggressive, police enforcement action, where we're arresting more people, especially auto thefts," said O'Rourke.

O'Rourke points to the program where officers can take home 74 new police vehicles. Before there was a maximum of 16 units on the street, now that's quadrupled. KIMA asked if the program is as effective as it could be, with the cops not actually living in the problem neighborhoods.

"It doesn't matter, you don't spend your entire life in your neighborhood, your drive to work, you drive to the movies, drive to go out to dinner, I mean they're circling throughout the city," said O'Rourke.

But, could there be incentives for officers to live in gang neighborhoods to have a bigger presence in reducing crime? It's something that's been done in the past in some areas with the old housing authority program.

"That can get expensive to subsidize housing, but we want to see what the results are for this next year on just having the units out there, and then we'll strategize beyond that if we don't think we're getting the results we need," said O'Rourke.

And getting people to feel safer will determine the success of our downtown plans. Since it requires people and businesses to come back to Yakima.

"Cowiche Kitchen restaurant is a classic illustration of an entrepreneur from Yakima that purposely wanted to be downtown, also would like to be affiliated and next to a potential plaza because he understands the value of the synergy and the demand that plaza will generate for business surrounding it," said O'Rourke.

One roadblock for businesses is the old mall. It would cost millions to retro fit it for new smaller retailers. But, O'Rourke says there's other opportunities, and is waiting for success to come.

O'Rourke says the success of the plaza will be determined by how citizens rate it on the citizen survey and how safe they feel downtown.