I attended this evening's city council meeting. It was a packed house with every seat filled. This room was smaller than the ones at Kay Ceniceros Center and the Paloma Valley High School Theater. And close to the end of the meeting it got hot and muggy in there as well.
Newport Road Realignment
Juan Perez, from the county transportation department was the key speaker. He started off by describing road improvement projects all through Menifee and surrounding areas. And there's quite a bit going on...
- Murrieta Rd Widening - located between Ethanac and Rouse Rd, to begin Fall 2009, cost $6 million.
- Newport Rd Bridge - improvements to the bridge and interchange over I-215, to beging Spring 2011, cost $40 million.
- Scott Rd Widening - between Briggs and I-215, to begin Winter 2008, cost $7 million
- Scott Rd Bridge - over I-215, improvements to begin Summer 2011, cost $50 million
- Bundy Canyon Rd - improvements between Murrieta Rd to I-215, beginning Summer 2010, cost $50 million
- Leon & Rice Roads - connector roads between Domenigoni Pkwy and Simpson Road, beginning Spring 2011, cost $40 million
It sounds like it all hinges on moving these two reclaimed water mains. Those mains belong to EMWD, and the county can't move without their coordination.
The other biggie is that the new Goetz Rd Bridge is very difficult to build because the elevation of the existing bridge is much lower than the elevation of the realigned Newport Rd. Building this bridge requires having to shut down Goetz Rd. And they can't shut down Goetz Rd unless they open up the realigned Newport Rd to use as a bypass. And of course, they can't open up the realigned Newport Rd until they relocate those two reclaimed water mains. So, it all hinges on the water mains.
But worse yet, the county will likely have to go after the developer's $17 million bond money. However, Perez said that when they file a claim to get the bond money, the bond insurer will likely deny the claim, and the county will have to seek legal recourse to get it. That could take between 18 to 24 months to do.
So Perez said they could obtain Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee (TUMF) funds to finance a "Short Term" solution.
The Short Term solution will open up the southern lane of the realigned Newport Rd. This southern lane is wide enough to allow bidirectional traffic. They can do this without having to build the new Goetz Rd bridge. The existing Newport Rd that we're using now will be renamed to Normandy Rd, and will still carry traffic. The exception is that Normandy Rd will end at Berea Rd. It will not continue out to Murrieta Rd.
Perez didn't say if this Short Term plan will happen. He kinda proposed it to the city council. I got the sense that the County is not really moving forward on Newport Rd, and that this is all being handed off to the new city. Maybe I'm not totally correct on that, but that's my sense.
I did speak out, however, and addressed Perez that the Short Term plan he described was actually the official plan that the developer was putting into place. I said that we ought to move forward on it, on the grounds that all road construction done thus far was done based on doing exactly what he described. Perez acknowledged that. I guess it's up to the city at this point?
Another commenter suggested that all those other road improvement plans (what I noted above), are projects scheduled for years later. Therefore, why not use that money to improve Newport Rd, since it's about 80% completed already. I didn't exactly get what Perez said to that effect, but it sounded like he said the money for those projects is not exactly in hand at this point, it's just projected costs.
If the city moves forward with the Short Term plan, we can have traffic moving on the realigned Newport Rd within 6 months of starting the project, assuming we have the funding in place.
Meet & Greets
John Denver announced that the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce is putting together a "Meet & Greet", presuming for the members of the Chamber. City council members are invited to come speak to Chamber members. This is scheduled for Sept 10, at 7:30am.
Denver also said that the Masonic Lodge is doing a Meet & Greet, and that this one is open to the public. Apparently, food will be provided. I didn't hear Denver give a date and time on this one.
City Manager George Wentz announced that there will be a series of "workshops" that will educate the public on how our new city operates. These workshops will take place on days when the city council has their public meetings, but will occur prior to the meeting. Such topics will include rules and proceedings, the roles of city council members, city manager, etc. More information on these workshops will be forthcoming.
City Website and E-mail Addresses
That "more information" will be published on the city's new website, which should open up for official business in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, Wentz announced that city council members already have their e-mail addresses, and that these e-mail address are in use now...
Wallace Edgerton - firstname.lastname@example.org
Darci Kuenzi - email@example.com
Fred Twyman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Mann - email@example.com
John Denver - firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to e-mail a city council member, you now know how.
I'm assuming George Wentz is email@example.com
Wentz went on to say that all city staff and elected officials will have the same format of "first letter and full last name, with "cityofmenifee.us" at the end.
Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee
Mayor Edgerton announced the creation of a Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee. Scott Mann and John Denver will sit on this committee. However, nothing else was said. I'm assuming more information will come out on this later.
Cityhood Inauguration Committee
Darci Kuenzi announced the formation of the inaugural event committee. Read the announcement here...
Mary Porter, who owns a towing service in Menifee, located by Zeiders Rd (just south of Scott, west side of 215), said that she and several other business operating in that area was cited by the County Code Enforcement with administrative code violations. Some were served in person, others were served by just hanging a notice on their fence. I didn't quite understand the details of the violation, but they were all in common. The notice asked her to vacate the premises by August 10. I asked her to send me the full details, which I would republish here. But I did listen to Porter speak with our City Attorney, who said the code enforcement notices didn't look legit. The attorney felt it was an improper way to get these small businesses to leave in order to make room for an new office building.
Anne Pica, addressed the council by asking certain members to resign from their posts on the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce, saying it presented a conflict of interest. Darci Kuenzi spoke out saying that she doesn't hold a position with the Chamber. She was at one time a paid employee of the Chamber, but that's not the case anymore. Mayor Edgerton asked John Denver if he wanted to comment. Denver responded angrily, that he had no intention of leaving the Chamber, and that he has already sought a legal opinion, and that he was in no violation. At which point, Denver responded back to Edgerton that he shouldn't have to respond to such questions since they have nothing to do with getting this new city going. Edgerton responded back that the people have a right to say whatever they want being it was a public comment session, and that he was only trying to give Denver an opportunity to say something, if Denver wanted. Edgerton went on to say that it was the duty of the council to serve their "bosses", and pointed at the audience. To which the audience clapped in appreciation.
Bill Zeidlik spoke up asking the council to establish an advisory committee to review all the existing projects (I'm assuming he meant business and residential projects), and advise the council on which ones should be disregarded, and which should move forward. I didn't really hear the council say anything constructive on this, but I'm assuming Bill will be in touch with the powers at be.
Bob Duke, a resident of Romoland, and a member of the Romoland MAC, who happens to live just north of the Menifee city boundary (north of Mapes Rd), asked the city council to consider incorporating the additional areas of Romoland, Homeland, and Green Acres into its sphere of influence (SOI). He said he's not representing a concensus, however, he did speak with other residents all of whom agreed on becoming part of Menifee's SOI. They suggested a fear of being swallowed up by Perris or maybe Hemet, and would rather have the protection of Menifee. Mayor Edgerton looked over to our City Manager, George Wentz and said that he was already looking at establishing a SOI. Wentz nodded in agreement. So it looks like we're already eyeing some more land.
City Manager's Progress Report
George Wentz presented a Power Point Slideshow which outlined all the things he's been doing this past couple of weeks. I have to say, it's all stuff that will put most of us to sleep. He's getting a location for a city hall, he's getting benefits and retirement packages put together for employees, and I'm afraid I didn't write everything down. But suffice to say, he's doing all the tedious work that earns him the big bucks.
I don't have date yet on the next meeting, however the council moved to conduct these meetings twice a month, instead of every week. They will now be held at this same location at Mt San Jacinto College, and at 7:00pm.
If these meetings attract more people, they won't have room for them. And I hope they turn up the AC next time.