Rotary meets developer with skepticism
by By John Saiz
Aug 13, 2007 | 374 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The developer who wants to build a 7.5-square-mile industrial center in Crows Landing met with resistance from the Patterson Rotary Club Wednesday as he described preliminary plans for the West Side’s most ambitious project.

PCCP West Park developer Gerry Kamilos told the crowd of about 80 people that his project would generate 37,000 jobs and that it would not include housing. He said the project, at the Crows Landing Air Facility, would increase train traffic in Patterson by six roundtrips a day.  

“This project is about jobs,” Kamilos said. “It’s not about housing.”

The presentation kicks off a public outreach push of 11 workshops throughout the county over the next two weeks. Patterson will host three workshops — more than any other city in the county.

Folks at Wednesday’s meeting peppered Kamilos with questions and comments, and several people expressed distrust of the Sacramento-based developer.

“You’re seen as an outsider,” Harold Hill of Patterson told Kamilos.

“When you’re all done, you’re going to go back home to Sacramento,” Patterson-area resident Kenny Buehner said. “You won’t have to deal with it.”

None of the attendees spoke in favor of the project.

Kamilos and his company have proposed building a business park at the county-owned airbase about 4.5 miles southeast of Patterson. In February, the county board of supervisors chose West Park as the likely developer of the project.

West Park has until April to lay out detailed plans for the facility. Then, the board will vote on whether to accept those plans.

So far, West Park has proposed a 4,800-acre complex that would develop thousands of acres of farmland surrounding the base. The northern tip of the project would be about a mile from Patterson’s southern border.

A key component to the facility would be a rail connection to the Port of Oakland that West Park hopes to pay for with state bond money. The development team also hopes to attract agricultural processors, distribution centers, police and fire services, workforce-training firms, health care-related employers, manufacturers and aviation-related businesses.

In all, a West Park brochure estimates the facility would employ about 37,000 people at build-out in 2021. The six trains that would make round trips daily from the base to the Port of Oakland would create an additional 24 minutes of train traffic a day in Patterson, Kamilos said.

Truck and train traffic were some of the attendees’ main worries.

“Truck traffic is going to intensify right here because of your project,” Buehner said, adding the trucks would lower the West Side’s air quality.

Specifics on how much more truck traffic the facility would create were not available, though eventually they will be, Kamilos said.

Much of the information Kamilos shared with Rotarians has been included in an invitation West Park sent to thousands of households across the county this week. The mass-mailed invitation is part of the effort to inform people about next week’s workshops.

In addition to Patterson, West Park officials will visit Crows Landing, Grayson, Newman, Ceres, Modesto, Turlock, Riverbank and Oakdale. The Grayson meeting will be conducted in Spanish.

West Park has capped each meeting at 40 people, so those interested in attending must RSVP. The intent was to make sure attendees wouldn’t feel intimidated when speaking to the group, Kamilos said.

If there is enough demand, he said, more workshops will be scheduled.

The county board of supervisors mandated that West Park conduct workshops before its second update to the board Aug. 28.

If the workshops are like the Rotary meeting, Kamilos and West Park will have a lot of convincing to do.

“You’re looking for the best place to make your project work,” Buehner said, “not necessarily the best project for this community.” 

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