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Here’s The Scoop … MPSC Meeting Puts The Spotlight On The Candidates For Commission In March 2010 …

January 20, 2010 by Barbara

A PREVIEW OF WHAT’S IN STORE …. ON THE DAIS IN MARCH 2010….

Dear Readers …Last night was a preview of what’s in store for all of us for the next 2-4 years on the dais….The Master Plan Steering Committee met for their regular monthly meeting in Jarvis Hall …The hall was pretty full for one of these committee meetings that is usually attended by this writer alone…with a smattering from time to time of a local news editor whose husband is on the board or a regular local comic at the commission meeting podium as well as a one or two commissioners who came a few times over the last couple of years…

Tonight’s hall was filled due to the MPSC agenda which was to address the El Mar Drive “McIntee Median Walkways” (prev. post) …which amounts to approximately 3 medians in the south end of El Mar Drive at a cost of the “Oriana Million”…

Before the meeting began Chair Paul Novak informed this writer that Asst. Town Manage John Olinzock called him at 3 pm to inform him Ernie Ojito Project Manager, from Ocampo and assoc. would not be in attendance even though Paul had set it up with him the week before. John Oloinzock said it was not part of Ocampo’s contract and the Commission needed to approve it!… After that Paul sat at the table with Maryann Wardlaw  and Bob Eckblad and each agreed as they had at the last meeting they had a few months back that they saw a major change in what was decided originally due to the finding (finally a year and a half in) the Oriana Million could be used for the entire length of El Mar Drive…and concurred that they did ask for time before the majority on the commission (Silverstone-Clottey and McIntee ) voted to go ahead ignoring the consensus they came to at the roundtable the prior evening…

The meeting began and Paul said he would call the roll and “see why you’re all here”…clearly disgusted with the change in his plans to have a professional attend to address the situation… Paul spoke of  ” a lot of calls” he had received from citizens that did not like what they saw or heard about the walkways in the median plans…Paul again described how the rountable ended and then how the commission voted…He went on to discuss their role this night and what if anything they should come up with…Paul said he was of the opinion the money should go for landscaping and lighting…Bob Eckblad reiterated his previous roundtable statements of an overall plan and the finding a way to fund it and offered up the project should wait until March… Marilyn Carr spoke of how everything changed 3-4 times, the beginning plans to beautify El Mar Drive and also added that with the changed they should wait until they have a plan…Mike San Miguel spoke of what the commission asked of them and did not feel the funding was a part of their duties…Paul spoke of the students and the understanding that they even had hat some concepts would come from each entry not just the winner and that “walkways” were never the “intent”…they just happened to be part of the winner’s design and morphed into the focal point somehow… Marc Furth did not know why the committee was even meeting…what the objective was…and said the committee perhaps failed to obtain more input from the people…He did not feel a handful of people present in the hall were enough to change anything and it was probably a “moot point” anyhow with the commission’s vote…He mentioned waiting until after the election and a new commission was seated…saying he “was not in favor of any particular plan”…reminding the committee he brought up sidewalks but received no support …Louis Devorak  came in late and said the biggest challenge was to use the million dollars and said “life is what happens while you are waiting for something to happen”…

New CIC-endorsed Candidate from the north Marjorie Evans decided to come to Jarvis Hall for the 2nd time in her 40 years of residency (she made her 1st visit on Jan. 12, 2010 and left right after public comment stating she was sorry she came)… sitting next to her CIC- endorsed slate Comm. Silverstone and Joe Couriel… She said “I’d like to say something.”…Paul Novak said he wanted the commissioner to speak first… .. After some guidance from Comm. Dodd that there was no sunshine problem due to the meeting being posted…Comm. Silverstone spoke…

Comm. Silverstone spoke…” Well, then I’ll speak about this. My contention has always been from the get go we have this money um, we do something with it. You guys has a lot of meetings. You brought these students in. I think we’ve had every possible input that we could possibly have and the idea towards the way the commission did vote and that is the as Louis says to do something with it. And I think that is a start and if there’s changes along the way so be it. Ah, I think you even said Mr. Novak that once this is done we would start working on the second half of the project because a million dollars is, is as was said is not gonna be a lot of money to really do too much. But we can start it. And I think the RFP cycles are already started and I think that we voted on it. That’s already gone forth to ah, to pick some RFPs on this thing, proposals to, to accomplish it. Um, the intent of the money was to beautify El Mar Drive. The biggest problem we have on El Mar Drive is drainage. That’s being answered in another area. Um, so I think this meets that goal. This is something that does beautify it and I think we should go forward with this. But it can be stopped if there’s enough pressure to say wait a minute, hold on this is not a good idea. I’m always looking for that. I’m only speaking for myself. If somebody  comes along with a better idea, a better way of doing this. But I think we’ve had time to ponder this and go over this and I haven’t heard anything that meets that goal as good as we could come up with that the students came up with and again as the pavilion we came up with  different ideas to come together to handle its changes made to it and that still opened on time in the process of doing this. So, I mean I’m speaking for myself that’s the way I see it going. We’re doing something and I think that’s a good thing.”

Paul asked Comm. Clottey to speak but she wanted to hear the residents before commenting…Comm. Dodd spoke next to say he thanked the MPSC for their work on the project, and understood their frustration with the commission not following the consensus to give the MPSC some time…He said he voted against the million for the medians…He heard from many people “It’s a stupid waste of money”…and felt it should still go back to the committee to spend the money “in a better fashion”…

Cristie Furth -Campaign Manager/ BTSTimes Editor/ P&Z Vice-Chair and El Mar Drive owner of Town Hall East (Blue Seas) …stated she “talked to a lot of my neighbors who live there who actually love the idea.”…She said they ares “sick of looking at the medians with Sable Palm tree sticks, like sticks with brooms on it.”…She went on to state “El Mar Drive median is so destitute”…”Seems that people are changing their minds”….”More campaign than anything else, campaign issue”…”We have one million dollars and that does not go very far”…”A walkway in the median is what I’m looking forward to as a resident of El Mar Drive and walking everyday trying to hide from the sun ok?”…She went on to speak of the Holiday Inn and the Villa Caprice being in foreclosure and if the medians were not done no one would come and buy the hotels to refurbish them…”It looks decrepit, it needs a shot in the arm, it needs something.” “You can’t wait. You agreed, It’s been a year and a half on it. It needs beautification”…”Walkways down the middle is a wonderful thing!”…”As a stakeholder on El Mar Drive I’m all for it and a lot of my neighbors and friends are. I don’t know who’s talking to you but my people that I know love the idea!”…

Diane Boutin spoke next trying to put things into perspective with what is really needed in the south end of El Mar Drive and the problems with the portals…living with a budget…in the real world…she said “Her neighbors are vehemently against it!”…She spoke of the trucks by the medians…the fumes and how fiscally irresponsible it is to spend a million this way…She received loud applause!…

El Mar resident David Nixon who lives in the south end spoke of the taking away of green space for pavement …the lack of size of the median (20 ft. wide)…the safety issues …and stated he spoke to 2 engineering firms that said never would they put a walkway down the middle of the street  this way with so little footage …

Candidate Scot Sasser spoke ” Mr. Novak, I couldn’t have said it better than these people have. I’ll just let you know that in my journey’s all across town and talking with people, tonight is just a microcosm of what I’m hearing personally. and a few people are for it, many are against it.Me personally, I would just like to see an overall plan as many of the Maser Plan Steering Committee have already stated before we move forward with anything. I just think it’s prudent after hearing tonight and what we are hearing through the town is to let you guys go back and have a couple of meetings and then come back with an overall plan. Obviously, you’ll have to have meetings with experts like you’ve stated so on ad so forth. But an overall plan and then you can get into whether or not you phase this in which is probably a viable approach to this whole thing. It doesn’t mean that you have to do it all at once, but at least having an overall goal as well as an overall idea how much it’s going to cost. I think that’s the only prudent thing. I would be interested to hear if indeed it has gone out to RFP and then if you so choose tonight what is the next step from here? How do we go back and allow you to do your diligence on that? That’s it.”…

Scot’s opponent CIC-endorsed Marjorie Evans ” Here’s as a citizen, here’s my frustration. It’s not so much whether there’s a walkway down El Mar Drive. It’s the fact that all this time has gone by there’s a million dollars, nothing has been done with it and I don’t understand. Like if you go back to the drawing board again nobody’s ever going to be 100% happy with this. But somebody’s got to make a decision and where I come from a million dollars is a lot of money. It may not be a lot of money to you guys but it’s one eight of the budget I have to run a non-profit agency. If somebody gave me a million dollars I could spend it! And I think that’s what the problem is. And if you go back to the drawing board again there needs to be a time line, a vote and move forward. That’s just my opinion.” …Only Cristie Furth applauded…..

Next came CIC- endorsed Joe Couriel for Mayor, who spoke 4 times this evening.” Ah, I’d like to ask a question. does anybody remember Sea Grape Drive? Ah, Does anybody object to how Sea Grape Drive looks now? I don’t know if you remember the battles for Sea Grape, but they were epic battles. They were the Hatfield and McCoy’s. We on the west side of Sea Grape Drive wanted the sidewalk on the east side and the people on the east side wanted it on the west side. And we fought tooth and nail to try and put it on the other guys side alright? I happen to be on the losing side, alright? They decided against our position. We thought it would be safer but we lost and I went home to lick my wounds and wait for the construction to begin and it began and it ended and it looks beautiful and it’s because someone made an executive decision to do what needed to be done and not keep talking about it. We would still be talking about Sea Grape Drive as what to do about it. And I can tell you folks if you’re afraid of the city not being able to maintain that beautiful landscaping that we we have I think they’re overdoing. I counted four trucks the other day and about eight people working on it and they do it every two weeks and they do a wonderful job. So don’t be afraid about the city keeping up with whatever they put in there It just needs to get done! Now quit talking about it otherwise nothing will ever happen, thank you.”…

This writer spoke of attending the meetings…my neighbors who say they will not walk the medians…the million burning a hole in the majority commissioner’s pockets and the history of how we got to this place which readers can find under the board category over the last 2 years…

Joe Couriel took the microphone for the 2nd time…” Ah, it seems to me that the bone of contention here is that the sidewalk down the middle, ok? You don’t like it Mr. Nixon doesn’t like. Some people don’t. I really don’t have an opinion one way or another. I think the most constructive thing we can do here today is come up with a, with a, ah, ,um a recommendations to the board to reconsider spending the money that is going to be spent on a sidewalk down the middle may be better spent doing other things. In other words go forward and let’s revisit the design of the median and see if there is a better way to do it. If we can come up with a plan and present it. You vote on it but we think it can be improved. Maybe we can achieve something. Let’s come up with a plan not just shoot it down and start all over because we are not going to do it. I guarantee you that. But maybe you could influence the outcome of it. Then it might be worthwhile pursuing. Thank you.”…

David Nixon spoke of using the money to hire a landscape architect and to plant…to forget “walkways and gazebos and fountains and Ferris wheels”… keep it green…

Diane Boutin spoke again about the lack of a professional coming to assist and warned the commission about wasting a million dollars…

Candidate Chris Vincent spoke ” I want to get back to the Sea Grape project with sidewalks. I live on Corsair Avenue that intersects Sea Grape where the sidewalks are and what Mr. Couriel said about the infighting whether it be east or west. What he failed to mention is we all agreed we wanted the sidewalks. It was just whether it was going to be east or west. The consensus came down obviously it would be the west because the east had the majority of the back-out parking on that side. But the point here is that it was agreed on. We all knew we wanted sidewalks. What side did we want it on that was the contention. Bottom line, it was west side. Rightfully so. It’s a beautiful sidewalk and it was done for safety reasons. A lot of pedestrian traffic on Sea Grape, with that sidewalk in now we have a safe walking environment. Getting to El Mar with the sidewalk in the middle of the median is a project that the majority of the people don’t want for safety reasons. It’s not a good safety idea, a sidewalk down 1320 feet of El Mar Drive. So people can walk on the street, on the sidewalks, cross over and say hey there’s 1320 feet of sidewalk lets’ go walk that, get to the end and walk back over on the other sidewalk. If you think that’s going to entice people to come into our town because we’re going to spend a million dollars for 1320 lineal feet of a new sidewalk, you’re dreaming! That’s not helping the town, that’s polarizing the town by spending a million dollars on a sidewalk in the middle of the median on the south end of El Mar where the majority of the residents do not want it. Thank you.”…

Joe Couriel 3rd time… “One could make an argument about anything or any point and I ask you to consider how many back-out parking spots are there in El Mar Drive now 90%, ok? Every time I go by there I have to be very careful when I’m backing out of that I don’t run  over somebody, alright?. And I’m  always having to either wait for them to pass or they have to wait for me to get out. So that is a fact you have to consider. It’s not just the ah, whether the sidewalk is in the middle or not, it’s what’s safe is for the people that are walking down Elk Mar Drive. If you don’t have to fight ah, back-out drivers you have probably eliminated a big um, ah, safety concern that exists right now in town. So that’s just something to consider. I’m not saying not to. Just consider everything, ok?”…

David Nixon countered Joe Couriel and Cristie Furth about 2mph back-out cars vs 35mph street traffic…on the safety comparisons…

Commissioner Clottey not feeling well did not comment…

Cristie Furth went for round two…saying the design was “lovely”…and saying stop the “stalling”..spend the million!…

Maryann Wardlaw spoke of getting off on a tangent and the loss of focus with the intention of the medians…Paul asked for consensus and preferred to wait until after the election…asking for prudence and to not be rushed…he brought up the pavilion and the changes encountered with it… saying change is good….He again asked for 2 or 3 meetings…

Suddenly Candidate Marjorie Evans spoke up again…Candidate Evans…(in Jarvis hall for the 2nd time in 40 years of residency)…addressed the MPSC ” May I ask what is your function?Are you a workshop with a number of plans to bring back to the town and then they, what exactly do you do?”

Paul ” We take our orders from the commission. That’s what we do.”

Cand. Evans” But what do they tell you to do?”

Marc Furth ” We’re an advisory board.”

Cand. Evans ” What are you supposed to, what is your product you are supposed to come up with at the end of your, what is your product?”

Paul ” Our product for the last year has been working on El Mar Drive.”

Cand. Evans ” But what would you say working on it are you supposed to come up with a plan? Are you supposed to…”

Paul” Let’s put it this way, you could probably look at us as being a think tank to come up with ideas to present to the commission.

Cand. Evans ” Do you have like I want you to come up with 3 ideas of how to handle El Mar Drive by January xxx”

Paul ” How long have you lived in town? Have you been aware….”

Cand. Evans ” I’ve been in town for 40 years.”

Paul ” Are you aware of the whole process we went through with the students designing El Mar?”

Cand. Evans ” But I’m also aware that time was for nobody and my frustration living in this town is that we have an asset here that we supposedly have been given a mission that this supposedly the end of this mission is to beautify El Mar Drive.”

Paul ” Correct.”

Cand. Evans “That’s supposed the end of the mission the current mission and I when I have people who work for me and I say ok in January I want to open a new program and this is what I expect from you in November , this is what I expect from you in December. I can see what my options are and then make the decision. But it seems like there’s not a defined mission that you guys have that the commission has sent to you. This is what I want from you. This is when I want it and so you’re spinning your wheels because according to Jim (Silverstone) you got professional help and (Paul disagreed) well he [Jim] said you go professional help.”

Paul ” They looked at it Jimmy but come on, I man how much help did we get? Look at the World Trade Center, it’s been going on and look at all the professional help they probably had.”

Cand. Evan ” Well I’ll tell ya, I think I have worked with the government a long time and it is frustrating to work with government because they don’t move and decisions are made and time is you know I mean the merchants the people who live on El Mar Drive. I’m sure that for them that means business that’s means money coming in here. That means tourists. You don’t want the place lookin’ crappy!”

Paul ” Believe me I have a lot at stake on El Mar Drive and I don’t want the place to look crappy and I have some opinions about alot of things on El Mar Drive but I’m not going to bring them up at this meeting because I don’t think it’s the time to bring them up. I think this board has done what it was asked to do as far as the El Mar project.”

Marc Furth “That’s right”

Paul ” We met the schedule in 5 or 6 weeks.”

Cand. Evans ” Then why are we still debating it?”

Marilyn Carr ” Because the commission didn’t make up their minds.”

Paul ” I don’t want to debate anybody all night in the audience here.”

The board then felt the need to defend themselves after Candidate Evan’s comments…Marilyn Carr,was pretty P.O’d and slammed those who never came and participated as the meeting were advertised… Louis Dvorak mentioned that only this writer was coming to the meetings throughout and said of those who had not,”suddenly everybody’s an amazing expert on El Mar Drive” …and blaming their sudden appearance in the hall to it being “an election year”…Paul spoke again of the previous roundtable meeting asking for more MPSC meetings…

Comm. Silverstone spoke again ” Obviously there’s some tension which way we should go here. Why don’t we ask the people out there to call the commissioner sand give us some feedback because you know it’s hard to say what the people of this town feel from a small group siting here and as was said out there I think we have plenty of time to get feedback from the people. But as Marc Furth said it always seems when the decision’s made  we get you know, people saying it’s the wrong thing to do. Well, maybe that’s true maybe people haven’t been paying attention. Hopefully we are now as a commission. I hope the other commissioners will agree to do this if we get a lot of calls. I think one of us can put it back on the agenda. Maybe review this or look at this again. I think that’s fair but until I hear from people out there, um, I’m gonna pretty much say what the vote of the, the  commission.” …

Marc Furth said to put it in Town Topics and Marilyn Carr said also channel 78…

Joe Couriel spoke for the 4th time ” I just wanted to suggest that you come up with a plan of action today to present to the commission at the next meeting, ok? Not wait 2 or 3 meetings. Debate it today, ok? And come up with something, something that says to the effect that there is trepidation about the paving of the median, ok? And you as a board suggest they were approved and maybe come up with the contracts aren’t signed , nothing is concrete. It can still be debated as to the final product. But don’t delay the product but try to influence the final outcome but do it this meting and maybe suggest that maybe more input from ah, from the town between now and then from the citizens. But do have a proposal to present to the committee to, to,  to the board  at the next meeting. In other words don’t ask for a postponement. Just say let’s look for a revision, ok? Because there is some concern about less green. I’m all for more green and less concrete. More flowers, green over black anytime. So I don’t disagree with that but let’s not postpone everything. Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Le’s come up with a plan B. Let’s tweak it, ok?”…

Commissioner Dodd stood to say he had already put this on the agenda…and Paul then sais he would ask for the MPSC to have more meetings and have direction at the commission meting..

Marc Furth ended by saying he sees nothing wrong with “piece-mealing”…

Adjourned…

Dear Readers…Why verbatim?…Why so long? ….For LBTS voters to see and compare these opposing Candidates for commission on March 9, 2010!… District 2 Candidate Commissioner Silverstone is his usual uniformed- self… Dist. 1 Candidate Marjorie Evans did not even know the function of the MPSC and had no idea what they had done…insulting them big time …(2 for 2 with her visits to Jarvis Hall in insulting others!)…and Mayoral Candidate Joe Couriel…his long winded talking out of both sides of his mouth dissertations should scare the bejesus out of any voter that wanted to cut down the length of the commission meetings!…

A look at Dist. 1 candidate Scot Sasser and Dist. 2 Candidate Chris Vincent shows the glaring difference when comparing th above candidates to these fine candidates who are well spoken, well informed and concise ….

The choice is up to you…4 more years of sub-standard representation on the dais by a CIC-Furth led majority or a new beginning with  a “NO Guard” commission made up of qualified officials who can represent us all proudly?…

Anyone on the fence…please distribute this post…

more to come………

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