Apr 19, 2008 | 463 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

It would be an understatement to say that Stanislaus County supervisors have a historic vote ahead of them Tuesday, as they decide whether to move forward with the PCCP West Park project.

No other project in Stanislaus County has riled up West Side residents in the past several decades as much as the proposed industrial center.

West Park’s 4,800-acre proposal is bigger than the city of Patterson, and its inland port eventually would accept six trains per day from the Port of Oakland, where loads of container shipments would leave and return.

Regardless of the growth patterns facing the West Side’s cities in the next three decades, this project alone would have a monumental impact on the area.

Though a county staff report regarding the project was not available as of press time Friday, county staff has said supervisors will at the very least vote on whether to accept a report of West Park’s activities during the past three months. In addition, they are likely to vote on a memorandum of understanding.

Until the full EIR is available for the public review, supervisors should not enter into anything even remotely binding. They should decide on whether to continue the process with the developer, allowing work to start on a stringent state-mandated environmental review process that would outline potential problems and required mitigation measures. But they should not make any promises.

With all the work that has gone into the development process during the past year, it makes sense to allow more research to be done.

After all, there’s been enough spin on both sides of this debate to keep truth-seekers dizzy. The most dependable sources have been consultants who have conducted nonbiased studies, and they say the viability and impacts of the project are not completely known. More work must be done to determine whether or not this is a good match for the West Side as the region changes in future years.

As supervisors take time on Earth Day to ponder the project’s impacts, unanswered questions remain.

It is important to know specifically what water sources West Park will use, and what contingency plans will be in place if conveyance systems are shut down because of problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In addition, it is imperative that the project does not take water away from nearby cities and local farmers.

Impacts from trains must be clearly understood. Concerns about trains blocking access for emergency vehicles traveling to east Patterson are legitimate, but without the impacts of switching and side track operations near Patterson’s major crossings, how long a crossing can expect to be blocked at any one time may be overstated by local critics. Local air quality impacts and potential health concerns also must be considered. How will a project of this nature help or hinder development of jobs in Patterson’s planned business parks?

Stanislaus County officials must continually hold West Park’s feet to the fire. There already appears to be too much insider connectedness between West Park and a couple of supervisors. We need representatives who will ensure accountability for whichever developer and whatever final plan builds out on the Crows Landing Air Facility.  We are even concerned about whether the company that will do the EIR has a truly arms-length relationship with all involved parties. If not, will the findings be perceived as legitimate? Perceived conflicts of interest will only muddy the waters.

Having listed those caveats, it still seems wise to let the investigation process continue. Despite the success of the Keystone Pacific Business Park, this region is short on jobs and long on commuters. West Park may be the answer. Or not. Residents will never truly get a scope of the entire picture unless the experts have a closer look and the public has all the information.

PATTERSON’S PAST 25 years ago — April 21, 1983

The annual Miss Apricot Contest has five more hopefuls. They are Tina Hefner, Janet Perez, Kimberly Harmon, Tammy Callahan and Theresa Hesling. The queen will be crowned at the Apricot Fiesta.

Del Puerto Hospital directors have decided against affiliating with Memorial Hospital of Modesto.

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission has voted 6-1 to change the zoning of a 41-acre parcel at the Westley exit of Interstate 5 from agriculture to commercial.

Patterson City Council has decided to outlaw smoking during its meetings.

Richard Selander and Jaime Reyna received gold awards in FFA project competition sponsored by the Wells Fargo Bank, while Vince Inaudi was a silver award winner.

There will be a party for Muriel Frank, who has been a bus driver for Patchetts Transportation for 33 years, all without an accident.

50 years ago — April 17, 1958

John Evans was this week re-elected mayor of Patterson by his fellow City Council members.

Patterson’s recent flooding damaged the high school swimming pool, which was being renovated. Water from Salado Creek twice rushed from Ward Avenue across Ninth Street and across the pool, doing considerable erosion around the edges. The pool’s deep end had earlier been removed for the renovation, a factor that contributed to the damage.

Six local elementary students have been selected for the county’s annual music festival in Modesto. They are Noel Lefforge, trumpet; Cheryl Pedroni, saxophone, Corliss Bessey, clarinet; and Mark Pepple, Tommy Klein and Gary McDowell, trombone.

75 years ago — April 21, 1933

Work is under way this week on the long-planned linking of roads to connect Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties via Del Puerto Canyon. O.N. Minniear is in charge of a county relief project crew of about 40 men working on the roadway over the summit near the county line.

The Bank of Newman, which has a Patterson branch, expects to reopen in the days ahead after being closed for several weeks on orders from the State Banking Department. More than 80 percent of its depositors have agreed to withdraw no more than 25 percent of their deposits.

Ole Torvend has been elected president of the Patterson Farm Center, which recently had a very successful membership drive.

Rain fell here Monday night, with snowfall recorded in the western hills, an unusual occurrence so late in the season.

Patterson Irrigator archives.

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