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Million Gateway of Americas project grant is approved

SUPERVISORS: $1

January 24, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors approved a two-year $1 million grant request from the state to complete certain work on infrastructure at the Gateway of the Americas project.

The approval came after a public hearing Tuesday afternoon where no one spoke against or for the item, though Gateway area landowners said they were pleased with the action.

"This is a big step forward and we appreciate your help," said Eric Rice, whose plans include a hotel, truck stop and restaurants. "We're very happy this has gone this far. We'll soon get it finished up."

Rice added his development is undergoing certain plan modifications.

Gateway area landowner John Pierre Menvielle said with the grant money slated for infrastructure work, it will benefit all the landowners and he fully supports the action taken by the board.

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"I'd also like to see the supervisors move forward with a lawsuit against the surety company, so when they win that lawsuit, that money will come back to help pay back this grant," he said. "The landowners are responsible for paying back this grant. It's not a freebie."

The lawsuit Menvielle referred to would be against the surety company of Tower Construction, which did not complete the Gateway project infrastructure.

County Counsel Ralph Córdova Jr. said the county would likely file a motion for summary adjudication against the surety company involved within the next 60 days or so.

"We're still moving toward resolving the matter," he said.

The filing would be made in Superior Court in San Diego County.

As a condition of the grant award, the county must guarantee at least 51 percent of all jobs created will be filled by members of targeted income groups, that is, individuals whose household incomes fall below 80 percent of the median for Imperial County, according to a county staff report. Additionally, if the grant is awarded, the county must agree to provide matching funds in the amount of $76,574 to be obtained from property owner trust funds. The county will be allowed to use up to $75,000 of the $1 million grant for general administration.

The grant money would further efforts under way at the project area, where infrastructure work began last year.

"The sewer and water plants started construction in early October of last year," said Grady Dutton, Gateway project manager. "They have a project completion date, I believe, of Feb. 28."

Dutton said the project is close to its schedule and most of the work is being done by locals under subcontracts.

In other business, the board approved the acceptance and allocation of $152,868 in state Community Oriented Policing Services program funding for fiscal 2000/01.

It was announced that the county received a $750,000 grant from the state Integrated Waste Management board to help with the closure of the Brawley landfill.

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