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Chit-Chat with Neil Derry, 3rd District Supervisor

By   /   November 9, 2011  /   3 Comments

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Yucca Valley, Ca.- I was contacted by Alan Rasmussen, 3rd District Field Representative, to see if  I would agree to meet with Neil Derry yesterday afternoon to discuss the proposed JPA Animal Shelter and my reply was, “Of course!”

It seems that Neil was heading out to 29 Palms City Council and I was heading over to the Joint Meeting of the YV Town Council/Hi-Desert Water District but there was a time window for us to chit-chat at his office in Yucca Valley before our meetings.

Our meeting was casual, contrary to the photograph I used for this story; Dapper Neil in his tuxedo sang “Frank Sinatra” at the 1950′s themed Joshua Tree Chamber fund raiser in 2009 and I conjured up the spirit of Hedda Hopper to compete in the costume contest.

At yesterday’s 45 minute meeting, we discussed the JPA Animal Shelter. Neil wanted me to know where he stood and listened to my concerns.  First clearing the air- this is not a personality clash used to cloud this issue, he was fully aware of the situation.  My bottom-line concern was the “challenged” site which Neil also heard at the presentations.

I explained I was disappointed this original state-of-the-art animal shelter, touted as similar to the one in Upland at 1/2 the cost and 1/2 the size, had been reduced to an expensive Band-aid and re-labeled “replacement shelter.” I expressed my disappointed the investment of $3.5 million dollars was not placing the shelter in a central location more conducive to attracting citizen or senior volunteers, which, according to the presentations will help to keep Staff costs down, help to socialize the animals and maximize pet adoptions.

To my surprise, he told me that Yucca Valley Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, was not too pleased with this location in the beginning and wanted to evaluate the Town’s parcel inventory for a site which would have been more suitable.

At this late date, Derry said there is no time, and no additional funds to secure or investigate another site to build the $3.5 million dollar facility.  I was informed because this is a government project, there is no concern about any land use issues as this shelter will be constructed in a rural neighborhood, RL-5.  A simple CUP, Conditional Use Permit,  is expected to be granted by the Town especially since they are equal partners in this project. He supports this project.

Derry said he would not hesitate to “pull the plug” on any project if it did not pencil out as he did in Big Bear with the Moon Ridge Zoo project.

He added, “Is this a perfect site for the new shelter? No it is not. There are only two choices we have today, build at this site or not build anything at all.”  He explained these funds could be pulled from the San Bernardino County budget if another 2 year process were to begin for another site.

As I understand it, now, the Board of Supervisor’s struggle to close their budget deficit will put this capital improvement at risk if the shovel doesn’t hit the dirt ASAP.

So in the end, I was not alone about the misgivings on the proposed animal shelter site despite the previous implications by Nuaimi attempting to turn this into a personality conflict. The Town of Yucca Valley has officially posted a 30-day comment period on the Environmental Documents and this project will be presented to the Yucca Valley Planning Commission in December.

Among other items we discussed, I gave Neil a copy of the Fieldman & Rolapp report on the Yucca Valley 1% increase sales tax initiative to “designate” a portion of the tax revenues for the sewer project.  Derry stated that was not possible and Nuaimi is fully aware any voter approved tax goes into the General Fund without designation.  He had two words for proposing any new taxes to be approved by the Yucca Valley tax payers in this economy…”Wishful Thinking.”

My thanks to Neil and Alan for meeting with me and giving me some background on the proposed animal shelter site and other matters.

 

Update: Here is the link to the Environmental Documents:

http://www.yucca-valley.org/pdf/mam/Animal_Control_JPA/Agendas/2011/2011_11_07_acjpa_envdocs.pdf

There is no notice on the Town’s website advising 30 day comment period.

There is no link on the Town’s website-Front Page

There is no link on the tab: Projects/Initiatives

There is no link on: Planning Documents

There is no link on: Town Hall page

This link is posted on: Meetings-JPA-Environmental Docs

There is no link providing Planning Commission date for this item

There is no link to the  “Noticing” advertised in the local newspaper.

 

 

 

 

 

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

3 Comments

  1. Mark Nuaimi Mark Nuaimi says:

    Couple points of interest:

    My initial "concerns" that I expressed to the County when I began as Town Manager involved the entire PROJECT. When I began as Town Manager, the concept was that the County and Town would contribute funding at a rate of $450,000 a year each until fully funded. At a time when Town revenues were dropping substantially, I asked whether there were alternatives to constructing a "new" facility ... could we make improvements on the current site to address some of the shortcomings.

    We then began conversation with the County about extending the terms of the Town's financial investment into the project -- frankly without the County stepping up and fronting the money with extended, favorable repayment terms, I doubt we would have been able to keep this project moving forward.

    From there, we then examined the proposed site and the concerns of the neighborhood. I didn't have concerns with the site -- we hadn't completed the studies to support or reject the site. I was concerned about the costs of securing another location and my management staff and I looked at alternatives using current town assets. None provided a reasonable solution AND we have been able to address the concerns of the neighborhood, I believe.

    As to the comments about links not being on the website for Planning. Until Planning has a formal "application" from the JPA, it is not a project, per se. Having said that, this is not your typical project since it is Town sponsored and our staff have been preparing all the information to add to the Planning website. I must say, however, that NONE of this is mandated by state law. We are going above and beyond as an organization to ensure transparency on this project and we will continue to do so.

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  2. @ Mark Nuaimi-Thank you for posting the Animal Shelter Environmental Docs with additional information. Your transparency on this matter, while NOT required by the State,as per your comment, is duly noted and appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Margo

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