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Sidewalk, handicap curbs' resolution approved


February 08, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

WESTMORLAND — Despite negative feedback from the community, the City Council here approved a resolution to build a sidewalk and handicap curbs on Third Street.

During its meeting Wednesday the council approved a resolution that would give the city $10,400 to build a sidewalk on the south side of Third Street between Center and D streets.

The money is provided by state Senate Bill 821, article 3, which states every county in California must set aside 2 percent of its local transportation fund for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Construction of the sidewalk will start in April and the project will take about three months.

Residents attending the meeting were upset about the area chosen for the project. Some said other blocks are in more need of a sidewalk.


Mayor Thomas Marquez said that section was chosen because it is heavily trafficked by children walking to school.

Resident Secundino Castañeda told the council he disagreed with the site chosen. He said the council should start with streets next to Westmorland's schools and work its way outward.

Daniel Ramos, another resident, said more planning should have gone into the decision.

Marquez said city officials had been planning the improvement since August and the idea was brought up at council meetings where residents didn't show up to give opinions.

Councilman Lawrence Ritchie said to residents, "We need you to come and tell us what you want. We don't hide anything from you."

Ramos said he and other people weren't informed of the project. He told the council it should have made more of an effort at informing the public.

Marquez said he will work with staff members to seek a way of better notifying the public about future projects.

Council agendas are posted in front of City Hall and the post office.

Resident Maria Olivas said that isn't enough.

The resolution to do the sidewalk work where planned passed by a 3-2 vote. Ritchie and John Makin voted against the item while Rumaldo Marquez, Thomas Marquez and Henry Halcon voted in favor of it.

The council received more fire as it considered another resolution to have about 15 street sections in the city receive maintenance work.

Residents seemed confused, thinking the streets were going to be repaved or rehabilitated when they are only going to be coated with a slurry seal to keep streets from cracking. Cracks also will be sealed.

Jack Holt of the Holt Group of El Centro, the city's engineering consultant, said it would cost less to maintain the streets in good condition than to let them run down.

"It's like changing the oil in your car," he said. "If you put oil in your car and run it until the engine pops then you're in big trouble, but if you change it then your car will stay in good shape."

California Pavement Maintenance Co. of Fontana was chosen to do the maintenance work, which will cost the city $46,537.88.

The work will start in the first two weeks of March and take about two days.

Residents argued they should have been informed of the streets that were chosen.

Even at the start of the meeting the council dealt with angry residents. During the public comment portion of the meeting Olivas expressed disagreement with the changing of water billing dates.

Water bills had been due on the 22nd of every month. The problem the city faced was too many residents were asking for extensions.

The council changed the date to the fifth of every month.

City Treasurer Sandy Pereda said the percentage of people paying the bill on time has gone up to about 90 percent.

Olivas, though, is unhappy with the change.

"Why should the rest of us that pay the bill on time be punished for the people that don't?" she asked.

Resident Edith Woodring presented a possible solution.

"I don't see why you changed the date. To me it seems the problem was not the billing date but the enforcement of the date."

In other words, she said, residents shouldn't be given extensions. They should have their water service cut off if they can't pay the bill, she said.

Mayor Marquez said he and the council will work to find a solution.

Ritchie expressed appreciation for the people who showed up to express their opinions.

He encouraged all Westmorland residents to attend the next meeting Feb. 21 to discuss the water billing issue and other city matters.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.

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