gmhTODAY 19 gmhToday April May 2018 - Page 43

P rior to the formation of the present Chamber of Commerce, an initial organization was founded in 1903 when forty local businessmen established the city’s Board of Trade. The leaders wanted to encourage local population growth and support Gilroy’s commercial community. They threw their collective hats in with the California Promotion Committee and the Southern Pacific Railroad in an effort to induce large landowners in the South Valley area to divide their holdings. The smaller, affordable tracts, they believed, would persuade incoming residents to purchase them. After meeting with resistance from the local land barons, the early effort faded. Then in April 1905, the Gilroy Promotion Society was formed. Besides public works improvements, the group sought cooperation with the rail- road to assist in developing lands surrounding the town. An early success under Society President George T. Dunlap was to encourage installation of Gilroy’s modern sewage system. By 1912 a new organization was formed. Known as the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, it was endorsed by the city’s foremost community civic leaders and businessmen. Local growth was still being stalled by refusal of large landholders to divide and sell. This held back newcomers to South Valley. It also meant a slowdown in the Southern Pacific’s efforts to establish new rail lines through the large land holdings, in trying to link Monterey to Fresno and Hollister to San Jose. Frustrated members of the town’s business community only saw that property values profited far away from town, leaving Gilroy and its inhabitants hamstrung for growth. The Gilroy Chamber early on backed a variety of other public-serving causes and improvements. The Chamber supported plans for a paved state highway system that would reach south from San Francisco to the Santa Clara Valley. The proposed new highway was to follow the original route of El Camino Real and would serve growing automobile traffic. Bond issues on the local level also enjoyed the Gilroy Chamber’s support. The bonds would help fund county road construction and upgrades in the South Valley area, and improved street paving and electric lighting in Gilroy itself. Another large venture was the Yosemite-to-the Sea Highway Committee. The Gilroy Chamber joined with representative organizations from bordering counties, to back a direct automobile route between the popular national park and the Pacific Coast. Hecker Pass Highway was one local result from the project that enjoyed wide support. In 1916, Gilroy’s Chamber of Commerce ran into an unfeasible situation when Southern Pacific railroad officials announced plans for a not-so-new station at Eighth and Monterey St. It was to be constructed 500 feet from the town’s ramshackle original depot. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN At first, the company intended to simply move the old building, place it on a new foundation, and add a few changes such as improved lavatories and new awnings. Noting this was insufficient for the public’s needs, the Chamber sent a committee to appear before the Railroad Commission. Arguing that the only right way to proceed was to construct a totally new railroad station, they enumerated the problems that would not be solved by simply moving and improving the old terminal. The City of Gilroy agreed, and lodged a formal complaint with the railroad. They noted that, “The old depot is 50 years old, in a dilapidated and unsanitary condition with no accommodations for women and children, and is a very unpleasant place to wait for trains.” Besides unsuitable rest- room facilities, the space itself was overly cramped. In turn, railroad officials said the company lacked funds for a new depot and could only afford the proposed renovation. In response, a delegation of Gilroy citizens traveled to Hollister to meet with that city’s Chamber of Commerce. They asked the city’s officials to link up with Gilroy in the struggle for a new depot. Hearings at Gilroy’s City Hall drew citizens to present their case. In recent years, they argued, the town had enjoyed many civic improvements. S Y]\H]Y Y\Z[ \B\]\]HY[[][H]\Z\K\YܙKB]\[\H[[HH[\ݙ[Y[[XYB\]Y \Y\ٙ\[H]ܘXH\[\\[ۈ›]Y\\][HZ[\[X]\Z[H[H]™X[]H\H][] MK ]X]HYX\HH\وYܝ][[X\BNLMH]HZ[Y[Z\[ۈ\[Y[\\[BHH]\XYXZ[H][\Z[][ۋ[[KY\\\XX[\ݙ\YH[X[H[\\[ۙYYX\H[X\[]\Yۈ] ]\BXZ܈XܞH܈H[X\[H]^[و[B[H]\ܛX[H[Yۈ\[  NLN TS PVH NZ^KB