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1/31/2013 5:00:00 PM
Welcome Center project to continue unabated

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - The Blythe City Council is moving forward with its plan to build a Welcome Center, according to a staff report at its Jan 22 meeting, with only Councilman Mike Evans showing any opposition.

Public Works Director Jim Rodkey said the newly re-named Hobsonway, Riviera Drive/I-10 Ramp Improvements project has cost the city $377,000 as of November 2012.

"It is estimated we need an additional $60,000 to complete the PS&E (plans, specs and estimates) and environmental documents," Rodkey wrote in his staff report. "We will be well within the budget of our cooperative agreement, which is $533,000. Please remember that the $60k is an estimate."

The costs Rodkey quoted are for the study and design to move the current I-10 off-ramp that now is a few feet west of the California Ag Station entry-point into California. Moving the off-ramp and building the Welcome Center will cost several million dollars more and the council has no source of money to move forward beyond completing the current study.

Rodkey said that the outstanding items necessary to complete the study were a modified access report and a geotechnical design report/material report, both of which the city re-submitted to Caltrans in late December 2012. He said he expected to receive comments on the reports from Caltrans in the coming week. He said Caltrans approved the soil testing memo and he had received numerous comments from Caltrans concerning the historic property survey report (HPSR).

"Consultant is going through comments and we will have a better idea next week on the status of the re-submittal," Rodkey wrote in his staff report. The status of other items is dependent upon the approval of the HPSR and the plans, specs and estimate package.

Evans asked about the use of Measure A tax funds for the study and Rodkey said that the money spent already was not just for a study but that it included survey design drawings and engineering to actually build the project, "either next week or next year or five years from now."

"It is in the drawer, it is ready for construction, and when you're looking for funding for projects, transportation funding that is not Measure A, when you have something shovel-ready in the drawer it moves you way up the list as far as qualifying for that funding," Rodkey said. "That's what the previous council's objective was - to have this shovel ready so that we could find other funding..."

Rodkey alleged that to not spend the additional $60,000 would mean the council had wasted the other $377,000 already spent.

Evans also questioned the straight-up land swap between the city and property owners Bob Hull and Mike Farrage, with whom the city has memorandums of understanding. City Manager Dave Lane said that it is too early to have appraisals of properties.

Councilman Joey Deconinck said the landowners of property the city wanted had had trouble getting water to it. He said owners abandoned the property for farming when the freeway came in back in the 1970s. Deconinck said that the city was trading farmable property.

Evans asked if the council did not spend the additional $60,000, if everything the city had done up to this point would still remain valid for a time so that the council could re-evaluate the project before spending more money on it.

"If the council elects to kill the project, then the environmental documents will be incomplete, the comments from Caltrans for the historical property survey will be lost and they will have to be revisited and re-engineered at a later date at a significantly higher cost," Rodkey said.

Rodkey said that if the council did not get approvals now and opted to table the project, the council would risk having to spend the money again in the future if it decided to move forward.

Evans said that even with the completion of the design, he didn't see that as broke as the city is and as broke as the government is, that this is going to actually be a reality.

"I am totally against this project and I think this money should be put into our roads," Evans said.

"It makes sense to finish the project and put it away," Lane said.

Evans said that he understood the foresight and vision behind the project but he doesn't believe the city can move forward with the project and suggested tabling it.

"Granted, $60,000 isn't a whole lot of money for our roads by any means," Evans said. "But after that happens we'll be talking about a Welcome Center after they build our ramp and I believe that's going to be more money that we're going to have to find, and I just don't know when enough is enough..."

Deconinck said that Caltrans is excited about the project and that people were talking about it in the Coachella Valley where it has many supporters.

"They'll have some money, I believe, cause they're behind this," said Deconinck. "There's not one negative thing through the state about this project."

Kathy Zidar, a Canadian who winters in Blythe, questioned why the council was having a discussion on the Welcome Center project.

"This is exactly the conversation that we had a few months ago... and I think at that time we decided, or it was thought, that the $60,000 was a pittance for getting road work done in Blythe," Zidar said.

She said that the city had a better chance of receiving a grant if the project were ready to go.

"I'm just wondering why this all is coming up again now?" she said.

Evans responded he represents the citizens and voters of Blythe and that the majority he has spoken to were not behind the project or willing to spend any more money on it.

"Are they willing to throw away the $377,000 that has already been spent on the project," she asked. "To me that makes a lot less sense than spending a few thousand dollars more to complete it."

Evans said most of his constituents think the city had thrown away enough money already.

The council then marked the item "filed and received" without taking any action.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Slim Bennett

Walt hit the nail on the head. You guys are ignoring the 500 lb gorrila. You are ranting about Mike, ice cream, spelling, etc. The grant obtained was to be used for "obese children" (didnt use "FAT" for you people who get offended and are too lazy to make your fat kids excercise). Take away their ipods,ipads,iphones,PS3s, and McDonald's. The $60K that people are arguing over is ridiculous. Mike knows you cant do much construction with that, but if the council hadnt wasted the $370K+ on BS, then we could have had a good start. Now who is going to volunteer to clean the Welcome Dump? We'll see orange cones and a "closed" sign soon because its trashed and no money to maintain. We need to spend money on ways to attract businesses and home buyers to Blythe.But then again, the council will run them off like WalMart. Everything along the river from Yuma to Bullhead is thriving and growing but good ole Blythe. This town will continue to be nothing more than a place for travelers to eat,gas,and (deleted) if leaders dont start looking at the city's best interest and not their own..

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: I'm just saying

@ El Pica quit disrespecting the kids in Blythe by saying the park is for fat kids! Be more respectful @our youth. You have to use the monies that is allotted for that specific project! Our u lose that money! Pretty simple to understand. Your the one that aid the council makes rough decisions. I am a happy guy. I don't like soft serve ice cream either! We have something in common!

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@I'm just saying it again. The money is for a specific project and you can't use it for another project. So this is what you saying, right? Then explain to me what a park for fat kids have to do with an off ramp and a welcome center? If the grant was obtained for a park for fat kids. So the new city council is trying to dig out the old council from the hole. Funny it's the same group of people but different faces. The same go's to the hospital board. same group of people over the last 20 years. I hate soft served ice-cream for my banana splits. So how do you know Mr. Evan's boss? (deleted) From what I read of you, you do not make a good conversation piece. It appears that you are a very frustrated person. Drinking buddies, then.Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: I'm just saying it again

u can't save money, each monies are alloted for each project. There is no such thing as same the money for the next project? Really!!! El pica the best thing you.said all year was make a sundae. But a banana split sounds better!!! The new council is trying to get the old council out of the whole. This project was a carry over. (deleted)

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Julius (The Jerk) Jercowski

With all the different points of view between the council members and then between their constituents on what should be done on various issues, maybe someone should make a move to initiate a change to the town's charter where the mayor is elected by the VOTERS and NOT by the council members. But would it really change anything?

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Just another Point to add

Yall are syaing $60,000 isnt enough to fix the roads, I agree "but" its a start to saving it and adding to it when we can. I also agree with "Eddy McGillicutty" if they do build it build some dump stations and also make the citys gas stations lower there prices on fuel or like Eddy said, people will just by pass it unless you through nails in the road.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@I' just saying it again. So what hard decisions do they have to make? I was talking about Mr. Evans. Not the rest of the council or the city manger. So what's so hard about them getting themselves out of that hole that they dug themselves into? maybe it's to face reality. Maybe to man-up and admit that they spent over half a millions of the tax payers money on a worst-less project. Maybe if they do the old Mea Culpa. Just maybe they could save face. The only hard decisions I have to make is, is it a large with or without peanuts. Ice-cream Sundae

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: I'm just saying it again

@el pica practice what u preach! Now u say they have to make hard decisions. All you do is talk about everything and everybody! Wow Really!! Again practice what you preach because u r the one always stirring the pot!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@I'm Just saying it again. your writing appears to come from a frustrated person still in elementary school. You make as much sense as throwing a glass of water against the wind. So what does Mr. Evans being a plant manger and not being liked have to do with being in the City Council. Not all bosses are liked because they give orders and make the hard choices. He is there to do a job. He is not running for the most likable man of the year. The same go's for being in the City Council he has to make the hard decisions. To go with the flow or to do what he was voted into office for. He made a promise and he is keeping it. If you are against that then do not vote for him again. Someone said that if you find yourself in a deep hole. The first thing to is to stop digging. Tell that to the rest of the City Council and the City Manger.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Hey, Walt

Better watch out! You're thinking, again! That is very dangerous in this fallen world. You could either get a hernia, or your thinking germs could become a germ and more people (excepting 4 out of 5 councilmen) will start in, and it will run rampant. Don't we need some new council men? Think about that. Of course, this project, like Obama's agenda, vill not be stopped! Ya Voll! Ve do vant dem snowbirds to be happy, don't ve?

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: I'm just saying it again

What happened to the clean up party council Evans, hey it would be a great idea if you took your people to clean up the new Welcome Center your into saving money!! Why couldn't you say that instead of going against the council Evans. Again, people talk about one another in this town we all know that. But what I say about your people at your employment is true. Weather you believe me or not that your opinion.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Walt Sleptke

Like Popeye would say right before popping open a can of spinach "That's all I can standz cause I can't stanz no more!" It appears that everyone is ignoring the 500 pound gorilla in the room. People, you need to realize that this project will cost several million dollars more BEFORE completion, and while the council has no source of money to move forward beyond completing the current study, think further down the road about its cost to keep open AFTER it's done. How many employees will it take to run and maintain it and its adjacent grounds (salary, benefits, retirement, etc.)? If the town doesn't have the money for taking care of the problems with roads and infrastructure NOW where will it get the money to run this pet project should it ever happen to completion?

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Article comment by: @ I'm Just Saying

I work with Mike and he is not a plant manager. Youíre wrong about the coworkers donít like him.
He stands up for them and is a leader. So please donít make up this story just to make him look bad.
If you want to make future comments, check your spelling because they appear to be weak.

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Article comment by: I'm just saying it again

Mike EVANS might be the plant manager but I know his boss. And he is not well liked! How is he not a loose canon when he new $60000 wasn't enough money but still think it shold of went to fix our roads! REALLY!!!! Know what your talking about before you blog. Again, what happened to the clean up parties he was putting together, what about him -------- on the chief, should I go on. He is a liability to the city. The people are starting to see it. It's OK to disagree but know what your disagreeing about. He just told the council we was for the project. He just didn't want the people of Blythe to see him agree with the other council. I can go on and on. This is just for starters.

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Article comment by: @ i'm just saying

At least he's a loose cannon in the right direction and if you read the article you would if known that he said he knew 60,000 wasn't a whole lot of money!! Why don't YOU try to get your FACTS straight....when did he become plant manager or claim to be!! Now who sounds like their the fooling everyone....

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