OUR VOICE
Mar 01, 2008 | 470 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print



Patterson’s City Council chambers housed a fascinating walking tour of the PCCP West Park project Wednesday.

Those who actually took time to ask questions could learn quite a bit about the 4,800-acre industrial park proposed for Crows Landing’s former naval airfield, such as potential wages, allowed uses and water storage possibilities.

Some innovative ideas promoted by developer Gerry Kamilos, such as solar-powered buildings, electric-powered vehicles and a workforce training center, would be great additions to any project at the airfield, regardless of who develops it.

Yet despite the slew of information, some details remained unanswered. Those include the direct impact on local air quality and demand for the industrial park.

The air quality question probably will not be answered unless West Park’s plan is approved and an environmental impact report is required. That’s OK. It’s wishful thinking to believe the county will require West Park to complete an EIR before supervisors have decided to use its development plan.

Besides, there is no doubt a host of environmental groups will get involved in any EIR process, given the size of West Park, meaning there could be a long period of debate to come.

Beard Land and Investment Co. CEO Joe Mackil’s letter of resignation from the Stanislaus County Economic Development Workforce Alliance last month points to another concern about West Park: its viability.

Stanislaus County Supervisor Jeff Grover indicated that Mackil’s motives might have been fear of competition from West Park. However, it’s important to keep in mind that others have expressed similar sentiments, including West Park’s potential partner, the Port of Oakland.

Possibly the closest thing to an objective voice in the debate over West Park are two independent studies commissioned by Stanislaus County. Both of those cited concerns about demand for the project that Mackil expressed in his letter to the Alliance.

Kamilos and crew so far have responded by admitting that the project will lose money during the first few years, but saying they have had lots of interest in the project and that West Park’s businesses will subsidize the project through an assessment.

County supervisors should keep in mind they are taking a major gamble on publicly owned property with an inland port project. Sometimes, the winnings in a gamble can be huge, but it’s always good to know what the odds are first.

West Park opponents should remember that the number of jobs needed on the West Side will be directly proportional to the population targets that its cities come up with in their general plans. It is important to make city plans consistent with the city’s regional goals.

Everyone must continue to ask the tough questions, both of West Park and of our city leaders.

In addition, regional cooperation will be necessary for good planning to take place. County leaders should not shove a project down Patterson’s throat, and city residents would should keep an open mind about needs in the years to come.

Good planning takes effort, but our children and grandchildren will thank us if it is done right.


PATTERSON’S PAST

25 years ago — March 3, 1983

Patterson’s seasonal rainfall total is rapidly climbing to what could be a new all-time high since local record-keeping began in 1912. The total is now more than 20 inches, second on the list behind the 1957-58 season (21.36 inches). From Monday through Wednesday of this week, 3.17 inches were recorded.

50 years ago — Feb. 27, 1958

Local streets at the north end of Patterson were flooded Tuesday when 2.24 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period.

75 years ago — March 3, 1933

Patterson’s volunteer fire department, organized March 10, 1930, has racked up an enviable record of having only $450 in fire losses in three years. Not a single city blaze was recorded in 1932, and in three years the firemen have responded to only seven calls within the city.

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