In Other Words

Some Things Stay the Same

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME DEPARTMENT.
In our fair city of Holtville there is a tradition of asking for too much, which usually leads to the people getting nothing.
Huh?
Well, it seems the folks who want to redo Mack Park want to do the whole thing over again at an outrageously high cost to the city.
The soccer coach and the baseball coach only asked the city recently for another baseball diamond and another soccer field to accommodate all the kids who want to play their games on them.
Ask for a Volkswagen and the planners give you a Rolls Royce.
Plans that were presented at a town meeting this week called not only for a baseball diamond and two soccer fields. They also called for a T-ball area, new playground equipment walking paths, picnic tables and landscaping.
All that would drive the cost up to five times higher than was originally planned.
All that was asked for was the ball field and the soccer field.
It’s been my experience that when the city asks for elaborate plans such as this, they wind up doing nothing at all.
We had a beautiful public safety and civic center building designed about five years ago  with a $5 million cost that never got built.
We had a skateboard park, hiking trails and soccer field complex that never got built either.
C’mon, the kids just want to play ball, whether they throw it or kick it. Give them what they want with the current economic climate kept firmly in mind and everyone will be happy.
If the city wants to add all that other stuff over time, then that would be fine. But, remember what you started out to do. Baseball and soccer. Focus on those two things and put the rest on hold.
Maybe the city council and city staff will actually get them done as promised.
A STATE AUDIT OF CDBG funds points out  more than a few discrepancies in how the city has been run over the last few years. It may be that the state is just looking for more funds of its own and is taking a harsher look at city funding. They’re probably hoping to get a little more loot out of the cities that they haven’t already taken away.
But the discrepancies are still there and need to be dealt with. One is an arrangement which I always thought was a little suspect.
The Holt Group was processing CDBG loans while at the same time acting as the city’s engineer. Which means they were contracting with themselves to provide city services. Or that’s what the state is trying to claim.
The government should have more openness and a lot more citizen involvement in anything that is using public funds.
Right now you have an employee of the Holt Group acting as the City Planner and the Holt Group acting as the City Engineer.
The State is saying that’s not a good situation if you want to keep a watch on  funds and where they are going.
Other cities have planners who are employees of the city and city engineers who are also employees.
Somebody needs to take a look at the large amount of money that is being laid out for all these plans and designs and what is happening to it.
In the case of Mack Park, nothing was presented to the Planning Commission and the body has only had two meetings since the first of the year. That makes it look as though one individual is doing all the planning.
It’s time to get back to some small town basics. In the good old days several volunteers would get together and help construct the fields, or clean up the property and lay out the necessary markings to provide the extra fields that were the only thing asked for.
What would be wrong with several volunteers doing the same thing now? Forget the big city plans. Get some people who are interested in Little league and Youth Soccer and have them come up with what’s necessary to make improvements to the field.
I think they might find lots of volunteers if they looked.
Meanwhile, the city needs to get more people involved in the planning stages. That’s what you have a Planning Commission for. But it doesn’t get consulted until the final plans are laid out and they are told what to do.
It’s definitely time for some changes in policies and procedures at City Hall. Maybe the CDBG audit will be  the catalyst to do that.
I hope you’re having a great Spring. I know I am.
Peace.