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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 2:33 am | Fair 50º


John Linn: Correcting Ron Fink’s Facts

The Lompoc Valley Parks Recreation and Pool Foundation was formed in August of 2008. At that time, Ron Fink was one of my key advisors and he agreed it was a great idea to provide non-profit status to community groups that wanted to build amenities to improve Lompoc.

John Linn Click to view larger
John Linn

When the Dog Park was constructed with a design approved by the city, an entry walk path was discussed. Unfortunately at that time the city could not settle on a path design.

Remember, the city approves the design of the parks that the Foundation Committees build and then the committee gives the finished park to the city.

In about 2012, I again discussed an entry walk path with city staff, as a local contractor had offered to cut the path and the Work Force Investment Board Youth Corps workers were available to do the finish work. Again the city chose not to move forward.

With regard to Jim Mosby, I first met Jim Mosby when he saw a group of adults from Boy Scout Troop 103 salvaging roof lumber off the former City Community Center for the Scout building the troop was building. He stopped and helped us for the day.

After that, we talked when we ran into each other. When I was elected mayor, Jim was on a short list of Lompoc residents that get things done to replace me as Foundation board chair.

He was selected by the Foundation board, which is made up of the operating committee chairmen and the Foundation officers.

I had already resigned from the board and could not vote. At that time, Jim and I were casual acquaintances at best.

Regarding the Motorsports Park Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), that document was drafted by the city attorney, and council members are prohibited from taking part in that process. At council I suggested several changes to the MOU, some of which the council considered.

I continue to strongly support the Motorsports Park that over 10,000 people signed petitions in favor of and 80 precent of respondents to a recent Lompoc Record poll supported.

The constant cry from our children is that there is nothing to do in Lompoc.

The seven motorcycle tracks in the park will provide seven-day-a-week recreation, just as Motorsports Parks at many other cities do, and replace riding in the river, which was legal until a few years ago.

Here are the facts on the NEPA and Airport Master Plan Study. Ron refers to an Aug. 6, 2012, series of emails between FAA staff and I. The purpose of those emails was to discuss the viability of the airport site for a Motorsports Park.

What Ron fails to mention is my responding email of Nov. 1, 2012, when I recap city and Foundation progress on the project since the August email to the FAA.

What Ron also did not mention is that I gave a copy of the August email to city staff and city staff called the FAA and discussed the email.

I also sent an email to Teresa Gallavan with the FAA August email attached when an environmental consultant was being discussed.

I said “in cleaning up some old email, I found this one I had held because the FAA is looking for an EIR consultant with Aviation Experience, which we need to have in our RFP.” (City RFP for a project environmental consultant.)

The Foundation recommended an environmental consulting company that had done dozens of off-highway projects for State Parks, but the City demanded Meridian Consulting.

Only the city has a contract with Meridian and not the Foundation. The contract was signed between the city and Meridian in September 2015.

When the NEPA issue with the FAA came up in May 2016, Meridian stated they had a number of conversations with the FAA after September 2015 when they began environmental work, and the FAA had not required a NEPA or Airport Plan update at that time.

In fact, the FAA had never mentioned the NEPA or Airport Plan until a conversation the city manager had with the FAA on May 3, 2015.

On that day the city manager had called the FAA to discuss the potential terms of a lease with the Foundation to operate the Motorsports Park after the park was completed and donated to the city by the Foundation.

Had Ron taken the time to ask me questions, I could have provided him the documents and information contained here.

At the Council meeting of May 12, 2016, the concept that the city could take funds from all of the Foundation committees was first discussed by city staff. This came as a big surprise to the Foundation, and after that meeting there was concern in the Motorsports Committee that the Foundation would need to have legal defense to protect the other committees.

Only then was the decision made to stop the $10,000 check, just given to the city, to provide funds for the Foundation’s potential legal defense.

The following week, the city manager stated it was never his intent to take funds from other Foundation committees, and a cashier’s check was delivered to him the same day the check was charged back to the city.

However, the city staff report of June 7 says “… then the City as creditor could choose to request the funds raised by committees under the umbrella of LVPRPF, such as the Fallen Warrior Project or the Bike Skills Park…”

Happily the Council resolution, passed on June 7, makes only the Motorsports Committee liable under the MOU.

With regard to whether the Motorsports Committee failed to raise money in a timely manner as the mayor and Ron allege, I will simply say it is hard to hit a moving target of the amount of money needed for the project match as shown below:

Here are some of the various dates and grant match estimates from the City:

» 2012 staff estimated cost from Rincon: CEQA cost $70,000; grant match, $35,000.

» Nov. 26, 2013 state grant with 26-percent match: CEQA cost $209,045.00; grant match, $54,351 .

» City letter dated Sept. 4, 2015: grant match, $116,370.

» City letter dated Oct. 8, 2015: grant match estimate, $174,555.

» May 12 council meeting Staff report: grant match, $270,680.

(Less any NEPA or Airport Plan cost that might be approve for coverage under the grant.)]

» June 7, the final and correct grant match for CEQA, NEPA and more staff time: $103,324.

» June 7, Airport master plan cost less any grant the city and Foundation can find: $73.310.

» Foundation funds on deposit with the city: $55,695.92.

» State funds due Foundation committed to city: $23,698.00.

» Foundation check due at signing of MOU Amendment 3: $23,930.95.

» Total CEQA NEPA and staff time Foundation cost match: $103,324.87.

» Funds expended by Foundation for NEPA study applied to Airport Master Plan: $4,275.00.

» Foundation check due at signing of MOU for Airport Master Plan: $5,725.00

» Total Airport Master Plan match funds from Foundation: $10,000.00.

» Balance the Foundation will raise for Airport Master Plan if no grants are found: $63,310.00.

Remember, the Foundation only learned of this new cost of $73,310 on May 3, 2016, and the City Council suspended the Motorsports project on May 12, 2016, which stopped all fundraising until after June 7.

During the Airport Master Plan [AMP] presentation to council, Andrew Scanlon of AECom had stated that the change to the AMP for the proposed Motorsports Park could be completed for little or no cost.

Andrew recently stated that because of extensive changes in FAA rule,s the change now requires $73,310 in work for the change.

Regarding a business plan and insurance, the city asked for and received a business plan in 2013 that the committee paid an industry consultant $10,000 to prepare.

Motorsports Park insurance is readily available from two large Motorsports carriers, which the committee has had extensive discussions with. The insurance cost is in the business plan listed above.

Clearly Ron does not support the Motorsports project and that is his right.

Even though Ron is just an opinion writer and not a journalist, providing erroneous facts when the correct information is readily available is irresponsible

— John H. Linn is a Lompoc businessman, former mayor and chairman of the Lompoc Parks, Recreation and Pool Foundation. He also is a current candidate for mayor. The opinions expressed are his own.

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