Much yet to be seen about Crows Landing development
by Ron Swift for the Patterson Irrigator
Feb 09, 2012 | 355 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
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It was five years ago this month that Patterson’s interest in development of the former Crows Landing Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (its formal name) was whetted.

For it was in late February 2007 that our county Board of Supervisors, on a 3-2 vote, granted developer Gerry Kamilos permission to proceed with plans for an industrial park of gigantic proportions — 4,800 acres, far larger than the 1,528-acre base with its two long runways. Even far larger than the entire city of Patterson, including the 600 acres on our east side that is in the city but has yet to be developed.

Much has happened in those five years. Dozens of meetings, a pair of lawsuits — one by the city and another by a citizens’ group — confrontations, another 3-2 vote by the supervisors, and finally the scaling back of the proposal to about 2,900 acres.

It’s still a huge project, and it’s still just two-plus miles from Patterson’s southern border. Will we be impacted? You can decide for yourself.

It’s not that jobs wouldn’t be welcomed. They certainly are needed in the Central Valley. And many in the 1,200-member citizens’ organization support the county’s efforts to develop the 1,528-acre site, some three-fourths of which has always been farmed. That compares in size with Keystone Business Park at less than 900 acres.

The organization of which I serve as president is WS-PACE, which stands for West Side-Patterson Alliance for Community and Environment. It was founded in the early summer of 2007 and over the next three years raised about $50,000 to battle some aspects of the Kamilos plan — namely the size of the project, the loss of agricultural land outside the footprint of the base, and the proposal to use 300 acres for a massive train yard and warehousing to accommodate container shipments by rail from the Port of Oakland.

And WS-PACE wasn’t alone in voicing its concerns. The city councils of both Patterson and Newman, both school boards, the health care district, the fire district and the Crows Landing Community Services District all took stands against the massive proposal.

But the project continues to move along. The draft Environmental Impact Report is scheduled to be completed by early summer, after which the public will have the opportunity to gain greater perspective of what we will be living with next door.

In the meantime, we wait and watch and listen, holding our breath in anticipation of what our supervisors will finally decide. For they, and they alone, have our future in their hands.

Tragedy waiting

I’ve long been a fan of circular design of Patterson’s unique downtown design. And thus it was only natural that I took approvingly to the roundabouts woven into the design of our new subdivisions.

But the two constructed a few years back on Salado Avenue in the old part of our city have not lived up to their expectations — notably slowing down traffic.

Those residing in the Salado area continue to report the danger of speeders. The challenge of deftly negotiating the circles at an illegal speed apparently enthralls some drivers.

Because Salado must be crossed on foot a couple of times a day by some students, it might behoove our officers in blue to boost this street up on their priority list. Just maybe the speeders could be convinced to slow down.

Another oversight

Last week’s death of 90-year-old Carrie Mendes came as a reminder that I need more informants. Unfortunately, she wasn’t on my list of 90-plusers, although she had her 90th birthday late last year.

Those who know of others in the Crows Landing-to-Vernalis area who are into their 10th decade or will soon turn 90 are asked to either call this scribe (number is in the book) or send an email (address at end of column).

Do you know?

What’s the largest city in the United States?

Jacksonville, Fla., at 874.3 square miles.

Now you know. Did you guess some other city?

For the sports fan

After Eli did it to the Patriots in the closing minutes, we can measure just how close the 49ers came this year. A smidgen.

And finally…

I happen to like the thinking of the late humorist Will Rogers, especially his “nevers.”

“Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.”

“Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.”

“Never miss a chance to shut up.”

With that, I’ll shut up.

• Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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