Bond Measure for police station should be on November ballot
By Peter Weinberger
While many of us were following the news of Pomona College’s bid to build a new museum of art and move the Renwick House, two groups were working hard on familiar bond measures for a Claremont vote. The looming issue now is whether one or both measures will be ready in time for the November ballot.
In some respects, the police station ad hoc committee and the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) are in the same boat. Both had floated bond measures to voters before, and both were soundly defeated. It’s clear this time around these groups are trying to learn from previous mistakes, and are focused on getting a clear picture of the public’s mood to pass these important measures.
CUSD seems right on track to file a $58 million bond by the July 26 deadline for a November vote. CUSD leadership has organized dozens of community meetings to educate (and soft sell) residents, while getting feedback along the way. This process is a ton of work, but should also serve as a model for reaching out to the community.
As we reported, with the school board unanimously in favor of the bond, Claremonters should expect to see a measure on the ballot in 2016.
Given the cost, logistics and varied public opinion for a new police station, producing a revamped, lower-cost bond measure is a difficult task. But there is public concern over the pace of the progress. Some have said the time has already passed to make the November ballot, given the slow movement of the committee so far. It’s also been difficult to get all ad hoc members in attendance at meetings. The last meetings were held on April 20 and June 1, with the next one not scheduled until June 29.
Why is November so important? The economy. Although one can always say the US economy should be better, judging from the feedback we get from business owners and residents, I can personally say the Claremont economy is quite healthy. We have made huge progress getting through the recession, the city budget is in good shape, the housing market remains strong, and the Village (especially the west side) has seen solid growth over the past few years with more to come.
After November, a new president will take over, with many feeling angst no matter who is elected. And there are some signs the economy is slowing down. My point is strike while the economy is on strong footing and voters are more likely to approve capital expenditures.
Even though Claremont said no to the police station bond last year, there’s a clear understanding the department needs a new building. The situation is critical. It’s a priority for many people like myself, who really want to vote yes for our police department.
So what can be done to not only give voters a bond they will approve, but to get the measure on the ballot in time? The frequency of the ad hoc meeting schedule clearly needs to be increased, and I encourage the committee to look at ways to make that happen.
But another key element rests in the hands of the Claremont Colleges. During the discussions about moving the Renwick House, many people talked about the importance of town and gown relations and how the Colleges contribute to the overall good of the community.