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DOWNTOWN ARTESIA PEDESTRIAN PROJECT ON PIONEER STALLED

By Rico Dizon 

The forward movement of the Downtown Artesia Pedestrian-Oriented Project on Pioneer Boulevard has yet to hurdle the third and hopefully, final obstacle that kept the project from fulfilling its targeted completion by the end of 2014. This is the review on whether the project is consistent to the City’s General Plan that includes the Mobility Element, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and traffic impact study.

Deputy City Manager Justine Menzel reported during the City Council regular meeting and project update last March 10, “Two of the three outstanding issues have been resolved and these are the acquisitions of letter from the Los Angeles County Fire Department assuring that the new enhanced design of the project has met the safety considerations and support of the department, and, the favorable review issued on March 5, 2014 by Professional Engineer Kahono Oei on the project’s Safety of Design and Elements. “Yet to be resolved is the consistency of the project to the city’s General Plan that includes the Mobility Element, the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA and the traffic study as it impacts the project,” explained Menzel.

City Manager William Rawlings informed, “We have received one bid for $65,380 to do the job and we are waiting for two more bids. For the city to choose, hire and analyze company services from one among these bids, we are looking at a new timeline of 5 to 11 months for the whole process.”

Council Member Ali Taj found the quote “too high,” and both he and Mayor Tony Lima were of the opinion “the project is taking too long.”  Lima said, “I have been with the City Council for 7 years now and we are still discussing about the same project. As we resolved one problem, another one kept showing up. Let us not expect a perfect plan.”

City Attorney Kevin Ennis confided, “Former Mayor John Lyon had done outstanding projects for the city but in his original plan to have a more vibrant downtown in Artesia, he somehow forgot to factor a few issues including the vehicular and pedestrian traffic as outcome of the plan. Also, there are necessary litigations involved due to the deviations of the plan from the city’s Constitution and General Plan.”

To fast tract the project, Rawlings offered to sit down with the City Attorney and the current engineer to revise the previous traffic study and present the in-house study together with the bids to the City Council for a thorough “pros” and “cons” discussion in the next project update and City Council meeting scheduled on April  14

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