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    Councilwoman Kell Credits Moving 911 ECOC From Stearns Park As "Blessing In Disguise" That Allowed Important Improvements

    (September 29, 2001) -- 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell has credited moving LB's promised 911 Emergency Communications and Operations Center (ECOC) from Stearns Park site to Redondo Ave. and Spring St. with permitting time to incorporate important improvements.

    Councilwoman Kell's statement came during the September 25, 2001 City Council meeting on an agenda item to adopt plans and specifications and award a construction contract for the facility. She said:

    ...You can always do things fast, but you can't always do them right, and I'm delighted that this project is being done correctly. Not agreeing to build this center at Stearns Park two years ago may now be a blessing in disguise.

    Not only is this new site more accessible and has less of an impact to the neighborhood, but this two year delay has allowed us to learn about the feature designs which have worked well, and have not worked so well, at [the] recently completed Los Angeles City Emergency Operations Center and other newer facilities.

    This means that when our facility is built, we will be able to incorporate what worked at these other facilities while redesigning those features that need alterations. We have learned from their mistakes and will now have the newest, most effective, most efficient Emergency Communications and Operations Center in the nation.

    I for one am looking forward to the groundbreaking for this new facility next month, and even more to its completion at the end of next year.

    Councilwoman Kell then moved adoption of the plans and specifications and authorized the City Manager to award a $12.186 million construction contract to RQ Construction, Inc.

    Prior to the unanimous Council vote, LB activist Colette Marie McLaughlin came to the podium to recommend that the Council name the ECOC facility for LB activist and 4th district resident Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, who led the campaign against the Stearns Park site since "she is the one that is responsible for this and we owe her much."

    To some smiles, Councilwoman Kell quipped, "Del Roosevelt probably wouldn't like that." [Mr. Roosevelt, formerly the 4th district Councilman, was weakened in part by political fallout from the Stearns Park controversy; he was defeated in a June, 2000 runoff by Dennis Carroll.]

    Reached for comment after Councilwoman Kell's statement and the Council's vote, Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp told

    "That's the great thing about doing the public's business in public. When you have public input, the results are better. Better technology, better location, better product in total."

    Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp's efforts culminated in a dramatic Council vote disapproving the city management supported Stearns Park site. Following the Council vote, City staff quickly came up with alternative sites, including the LB Water Dept. site at the southeast corner of Spring St. and Redondo Ave.

    Although Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp's efforts may have produced some additional delay, LB City Hall had long since breached previous time lines and pledges on a project it said was an urgent priority.

    In August 1996, when City Hall sought a tax increase ballot measure to finance the project, the City Council (on motion by then-Councilman, now Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal) passed a non-binding "minute order" publicly committing to complete the 911/ECOC project by the end of 1999.

    Mayor Beverly O'Neill co-signed the 911/tax increase ballot argument reiterating the Council's commitment to a Dec. 31, 1999 completion date.

    When voters refused to approve the tax increase by the legally required 2/3 margin, then-City Manager James Hankla promptly devised alternative financing, which was in place [ comment: to Mr. Hankla's credit] within just six to eight months.

    That meant that if the Council had been committed to its publicly stated urgent completion schedule, the new 911 ECOC should have been completed roughly six to eight months later than first promised, about mid to late 2000.

    Instead, in December 1999, during the height of Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp's campaign against the Stearns Park site, a city staff memo conceded that City Hall's best case scenario for completing the 911/ECOC at the Stearns Park site was mid-2002.

    Public opposition to the Stearns Park site led the Council to direct staff to identify alternative sites. Within a relatively short period, the southeast corner of Redondo Ave. and Spring Street (near the LB Water Treatment Plant) was selected, without public opposition.

    As Councilwoman Kell indicated, groundbreaking is set for next month with completion now scheduled for the end of 2002.

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