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Artesia City Council Approves Application for Trail Grant Funds

By Rico Dizon

Imagine Artesia residents riding their bicycles to go to Los Cerritos Mall and visit adjoining restaurants in the vicinity in the near future. Likewise, residents of Northern Artesia can pedal their way toward the Artesia Downtown.

The Artesia City Council, during its regular meeting last Sept. 9, approved the City’s application for Supervisor Don Knabe’s 2013 Competitive Trails Grant Program.
This application for Excess Funding for the Fourth Supervisorial District Grant is meant for the Pedestrian and Bike Trail Project in Artesia that starts from the Historical Museum on 187th St. and extending to 183rd St. and Gridley Avenue close to Los Cerritos Mall.

It is referred to as the Historical District Recreation Area (HDRA).

Before the voting, conflict-of-interest issues emanating from the residences of three council members which are located within 500 ft. from the encompassed area need to be settled.

To pick one from the three affected members in order to establish a quorum, a drawing as suggested by City Attorney Kevin Ennis was held for said three council members.

The results ended up with Mayor Sally Flowers participating while Mayor Pro Tem Tony Lima and Councilman Victor Manalo abstaining.

After the City Council gave its go-signal, Melissa Gobas, Parks and Recreation Superintendent, will now submit the competitive trail grant application to Mr. Knabe’s office which will decide if the new trail design will come close to reality.

The new design infuses the MTA bike and pedestrian trails with the old HDRA’s open space recreational plan. Per the proposal prepared by Gobas and Interim City Manager William Rawlings, “priority will be given to public trails projects in the cities that provide linkages to regional facilities and/or existing or planned regional trails.”

It will be recalled if the Metropolitan Transit Authority has an existing regional plan for the addition of a bike and pedestrian trails along the MTA right of way that runs from Paramount to Santa Ana.

The City of Artesia, on the other hand, has an existing plan to develop the MTA right of way between the Historical Museum and Old Fire Station No. 30 to create open recreation space. “The city is optimistic that the new extended trail design will meet the priority requirements for the grant,” said Gobas.
To strengthen the city’s bid for the grant, it was learned that the City approached MTA with the proposed project.

MTA has confirmed thru a letter affirming their support of the project and permission to develop the land pending final approval.

Likewise, the City has secured the nod of Los Angeles Conservation Corps to be a partner in the HDRA project to develop the trails and recreation areas.
In the application for the trail grant, Gobas mentioned the allowed maximum amount of $300,000 to develop the project.

Phase I is expected to cost $1,015,000, with the remaining balance of $715,000 to be derived from the use of unspent non-housing Artesia Redevelopment Agency bond funds which were originally allocated when the MTA property around the Historical District was previously part of the City’s Capital Improvement Plan. It is explained in the proposal that prior to committing the bond funds for this project, the City and Successor Agency will need to enter into a bond funding agreement. The agreement will need the approval of the Oversight Board and upheld by the Department of Finance.

In addition the Successor Agency will need to add the project to the upcoming Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS) for January through July 2014. The City and the Successor Agency will determine if the additional funds will be available prior to the announcement of the grant awards in January 2014. The proposal clarifies that the use of non-housing bonds funds is not a grant match, but rather a supplement to complete a larger project, and the funds are not required for an award.

If the bond funds are not available and the grant is awarded, the project may move forward on a smaller scale pending approval from the grant funder. The balance of set aside bond funds, the proposal continues, may be allocated to other projects, or can be set aside as matching funds for future grants to complete Phase II of the HDRA project.