Readers comments 10-9-15
The Colleges’ big footprint
In his article supporting building the Pomona College Museum of Art where Renwick House now is, John Pixley mistakenly says that the Colleges didn’t “dig in their heels” and use “clout and leverage” in the fight to build the Keck Graduate Institute on the Bernard Field Station. That lasted four years, from 1997 when the land planning process began until the settlement in 2001 of the lawsuit brought by the Friends of the Bernard Biological Field Station.
The Colleges used everything in their power to get city approval for KGI to be built on the field station, and they succeeded. It was only when opponents gathered the thousands of signatures needed to call for a referendum on that approval that the Colleges withdrew their plan. That the Colleges failed was not due to a lack of effort on their part but because the enormous opposition from individuals of the community and the Colleges lasted long enough to put funding for KGI in jeopardy.
The Keck Graduate Institute is doing very well at its current location, so well in fact that it is asking permission for new buildings. I would suggest that, like KGI, the museum would do just as well in the alternative location suggested by those who would like to preserve some distinction between residential and institutional parts of the city.
And as for not digging in their heels, rather than acknowledge the Bernard Field Station for the irreplaceable resource that it is, the Colleges changed their rules to allow existing institutions to buy parts of it. Now all but the center “Temporarily Restricted Property” have been sold to Harvey Mudd College, Scripps College, Claremont Graduate University and Pitzer College (see fbbfs.org for a map). The only college expressing any intention of preserving their part of this natural laboratory for continued teaching and research is Pitzer.
Claremont University Consortium announced in 2011 that the Temporarily Restricted Property would be permanently preserved upon the sale of the eastern portion of the BFS, but so far this promise has not been kept.
While the Colleges are an important part of Claremont, their desire to increase their footprint and prestige is sometimes in opposition to the good of the community, and even to their own longterm good.
Mr. Pixley says the Colleges have a lot invested in the community and asks “Would they really mess it up?” The answer is yes, sometimes they would.
A rational city planning process
As Claremonters prepare to vote on Measure PS to adopt the council-recommended funding ordinance for a new public safety facility, we can all be highly confident in the thorough, professional planning and decision-making that has occurred over many years in developing the best plan.
We write based on our combined career experience as a professional architect and a professional civil engineer. Together we have accrued over 60 years of experience in the successful planning, programming, financing, design and construction of major built facilities, much of that for public agencies in California and other states.
We can attest that the city process for and the outcomes of the advance planning of the needed public safety facility are rational, reliable and convincing. Voters can rely on the validity and the value to Claremont of adopting Measure PS, a special parcel tax for our new facility.
The need for a new public safety facility for Claremont has been discussed, analyzed and debated in the public forum for the last 14 years. The planning process has been thorough, transparent and professional in every aspect. Over more than 10 years commencing in 2002, several police commission studies had been formulated and presented to the public.
In 2012, the Mayor’s Ad Hoc Police Facility Feasibility & Site Analysis Committee was created to consolidate all of this information into a valid strategy for implementing the funding and construction of a new police facility.
In order to learn from and be informed by prior discussions within the community, the mayor’s committee studied the eight separate previous city council discussions of the deficient condition, the significant inadequacies and the untenable future of the 570 W. Bonita facilities.
Based on nine months of researching previous studies, needs assessments and site analyses generated by professional architectural and engineering firms, the mayor’s committee submitted a comprehensive 53-page report that concluded with three key findings and recommendations. Based on the report and on comments by the public, the city council voted unanimously on March 10, 2015 to place a ballot measure on the November 3 city election asking Claremont voters to approve a special parcel tax to fund a new public safety facility.
To ensure that findings of the mayor’s committee report of September 2013 remained relevant and valid, the report recommended that the city immediately engage professional architectural, engineering and geotechnical consultants to prepare a construction project plan and cost forecast sufficient for the city council to identify a final project budget and seek voter approval at the next public election.
During the city council’s annual priorities workshop on February 7, 2015, the public safety facility need was brought forward for public debate and inclusion in the city’s 2015 priority action items. After further review and public discussion, the city council decided unanimously that it was time to place the adoption of a special parcel tax to fund the new safety facility on the next public election ballot.
The council’s decision was carefully analyzed by the city finance director, who prepared an analysis comparing the costs and benefits of the parcel tax and the general obligation bond methods. The primary reason a parcel tax was selected is the fact that law enforcement services provide an equal benefit to all categories of property owners in Claremont, including residents, for-profit business, not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions such as the Claremont Colleges.
It is our professional judgment that voting for Measure PS is supported by overwhelming, real, rational and professional judgments. Combined with convincing support at a variety of Claremont public venues and multiple unanimous votes of several city councils, our community has all the evidence needed to approve Measure PS on November 3. We look forward to your support at the polls.
Plan B for the police station
If the voters of Claremont do not approve Measure PS, is there a plan B? I am in support of a new police station, however, I do not believe that Claremont should support a replacement that is five times the size of the current station with the accompanying hefty price tag of $50 million.
The new proposed police station is too expensive, too ambitious, and it appears that neither the colleges nor the businesses will not be paying their fair share – that Claremont residents will be stuck picking up most of the tab.
I recently toured the current Claremont Police station during the KGNH Street Fair on September 19, and while it convinced me that a new station is definitely needed, I also was convinced that the new proposal exceeds the needs of our city.
Chief Cooper and his staff have done an outstanding job of utilizing the space they have, however, it seems unlikely that this community needs a facility as large as the one proposed. Claremont is largely built-out and I don’t think anyone is expecting a dramatic surge in population that would warrant such a massive expansion.
I propose that we consider funding the project through a commercial loan that would require paying back the debt through collected city taxes. If we consider this option, we might be looking at a more acceptable, more modest proposal that would still meet our public’s needs.
Ghost Walk thanks
When spirits come together for a common goal, “ghoul” things happen! For the third straight year, the Claremont Village Ghost Walk has been a sell-out and success. But staging an event like this doesn’t happen without encouragement and support of others in our community.
Our thanks must first go to Joan Bunte, who not only believes in ghosts but believes in our scout trooop’s ability to bring together a family-friendly evening of telling fortunes and leading a nighttime event regaling guests with Claremont’s haunted history.
Additional thanks of support go to the Village Marketing Group for sponsoring and promoting the event and to Bert & Rocky’s Cream Co. for selling tickets.
The talents of so many others make the Village Ghost Walk possible. Our gratitude to storytellers Gina Capaldi, Michelle Reinhardt, Chuck Ketter and London Leones; guest docents Peter and Vicky Raus and Brian D’Ambrosia-Donner; fortune teller Maureen Reinig; the eerie chamber music of Ernest Moreno and his string and brass quartet; cinematic support from Margaret Aichele at the dA Museum, and from the Candlelight Pavilion; and Claremont Village Ghost Walk web-designer Mindy Meader.
Lastly, for all of you who joined us this year, thank you for coming out to share an evening of ghostly yarns and good old-fashioned entertainment. For those who missed it, we hope to spirit you away next year.
The Girl Scout of Troop 1094
A tree falls in Claremont
I was disappointed to read the caption accompanying the photo on page 3 of the October 2 edition of the COURIER, in which it was stated that “A replacement tree is currently being selected by city staff.”
While the red ironbark eucalyptus tree which had to be removed provided a pleasant sight for many years, I believe the “open look” remaining now that it is gone is actually preferable, offering a splendid and superior vista of city hall.
Hoping the city staff’s considerations regarding a replacement tree will include the idea that the best idea may be no replacement at all.
Done with the Wilderness Park
As a longtime resident and business owner in Claremont, I no longer go for walks in the Wilderness Park.
Coming down or going up the mountain, I am saddened by the exhaust pollution from so many cars, the noise and the traffic. I often hold my breath for as long as I can so I don’t breathe so much exhaust.
If I feel this way, how do the trees, plants, insects, birds and animals feel? Do they hold their breath as car exhaust travels up? Do they cover their ears from the noise? Do they hide perpetually to gain security and peace?
What sort of stress and trauma are they experiencing daily from dusk to dawn as we invade their habitat in huge numbers?
Can they thrive, and not merely survive and have shortened lives because we have not left them any space and peace to live their lives?
I see and feel the erosion on the mountain compared to 10 and 20 years ago. I guess for my own peace of mind, I cannot bear to see how we humans have taken over the mountain and are destroying what is not ours to destroy.
By not going there anymore, I will be one body that relieves the stress on the mountain, so the mountain’s natural inhabitants can live.
As an educated, open-minded and well-intentioned community, what would happen if we looked after and thought of the wilderness park for its native life and put our political agendas aside?
We started with vast oceans that people thought were endless resources. We have learned how limited all resources are. Let’s use that knowledge to reduce traffic to the park before the park is destroyed.
Only in hindsight will we know when the park has been destroyed by our carelessness.
Regardless of who is visiting the wilderness park and where they reside, how about if we make the natural life on the mountain the priority and not ourselves?
I would to like to offer a suggestion that we reduce traffic by a factor of up to 10 to preserve and strengthen the wildlife that our own lives depend on inherently, and yet we seem to forget on a daily basis.
Will anyone join me in writing letters to the editor in support of protecting our wilderness?