Council Votes 9-0 To Approve Diversion of NLB Redevelopment Money To Build North Div. Police Stn.; Not One NLB Resident, Business or Neighborhood Rep Speaks Against It At Council Meeting
(February 3, 2003) -- The City Council voted 9-0 tonight to approve a City Hall backed plan to divert up to $12.5 million in NLB Redevelopment money to build a North Division police facility (expected $9.3 million) in Scherer Park with replacement park land on 55th Way (expected $3.0 million).
Not one NLB resident, business or neighborhood leader spoke against the proposal at the Council meeting.
The Council adopted an adjusted Redevelopment Agency budget which will let the Redevelopment Agency pay for the facilities using NLB's Redevelopment funds.
City Hall's presentation began with testimony by Acting City Manager Gerald Miller, LBPD Police Chief Anthony Batts, LBPOA Pres. Steve James, Community Development Director Melanie Fallon, LB Redevelopment Board Chair Jane Netherton & NLB Redevelopment Project Area Committee (North PAC) chair Martha Thuente.
Ms. Thuente said in pertinent part:
...Mr. [Gerald] Miller, Community Development Director Melanie Fallon and Barbara Kaiser (Redevelopment Bureau Manager), agreed to some very important concessions in return for the Redevelopment dollars. Per that agreement, all programs now in progress or planned will be carried out. All unspent funds related to the construction of the North Police substation and development of the park on 55th way are to be returned directly to the North PAC budget. In addition, any unspent funds from projects or programs in progress or budgeted are to likewise be returned to North PAC...
...North PAC voted in what we felt were the best interests of the community. I ask each of you to think about the best interests of the community before you cast your vote tonight.
Forget that past promises regarding funding have been and broken. Think of this city's responsibility to provide a safe workplace for our police officers...
8th district Councilman Rob Webb said:
I did not anticipate us going back from the commitment if using General Fund dollars to make this [police station] thing happen. I also didn't anticipate that we would be in lawsuits for a couple of years. I figured we'd have this police station built at this time...
Retired NLB Councilman Jerry Shultz, now an ELB resident, spoke as a member of the public, saying:
You may recall that during the time when I was on the Council, I was also opposed to using Redevelopment funds for building a police station. And ideally, it is not the ideal use for Redevelopment funding. But we're not living in ideal times at the moment. This city is facing one of the most severe challenges I've ever seen, and we have to realize that we have to make allowances for that.
Long time Wrigley activist Maria Norvell also spoke in support of using the Redevelopment project area funds.
And Linda Ivers, vice chair of North PAC, said:
I'm really torn about this situation, as are many members of the PAC. We know the city has budgetary problems and we also understand that you are the recipients of a long practice of supplementing the General Fund with city reserves or other funding sources, rather than taking the difficult steps to address budgetary shortfalls. Now the city's reserves are decimated and the city turns to Redevelopment. Sadly, the city has nowhere to go at the moment. You guys have been painted into a corner, the city has.
9th district Councilman Val Lerch said:
We in North Long Beach I don't believe are being raided by the city and our money being taken away from. I believe that we were raided by the people who stopped and delayed this police station for the last three and a half years. They're the ones that make us in North Division pay for it today...If in 1998, we had pulled the bond and hadn't had these legal issues, today we would have a police station and we wouldn't be in this situation.
We in North Long Beach believe that the number one priority for Redevelopment to stop blight is to have a police station. If we don't have a police station, it is going to be the biggest "broken windows" syndrome in this entire city.
The PAC and myself voted and agree to support this with great disdain, with our nose plugged...
[W]e have heard the Press-Telegram and other newspapers saying that we're being slighted. In reality, we're being benefited by this.
Vice Mayor Frank Colonna thanked Ms. Netherton for supporting use of the Redevelopment money, said there'd be "future opportunities to take a second look once we come out of this economic quagmire...We've got a funding source that is established and reliable [in the Redevelopment funds]."
Councilmembers then praised North PAC, which (unlike the Council) is only an advisory body:
7th district Councilwoman Uranga called North PAC Committee heroes.
4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll noted "circumstances change radically" and commended North PAC.
5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell said to North PAC, "You have done a very unselfish thing here."
Councilman Webb moved to adopt resolution, seconded by Lerch. The motion passed unanimously.
Following the Council vote, Mayor Beverly O'Neill said North PAC had been "magnanimous" in thinking not only of their area but of their community. "You guys really did a good job in doing this," the Mayor said.