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READER’S EDITORIAL: A YEAR DOWN THE ROAD—OR IN THIS CASE, ALPINE BOULEVARD




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For three years, the Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG) had a SRPL Ad Hoc Subcommittee...No one is quite sure what it did, since it never had agendas or minutes.

 

By Lou Russo

September 4, 2011 (Alpine) -- Alpine is suffering especially hard in this recession. This is due to having Alpine Blvd. dug up for Sunrise PowerLink (SRPL). While the entire county and state struggle to overcome hard economic times, businesses in Alpine find themselves not only having to deal with a poor economy, but also with daily traffic jams/delays, noise, dirt, etc. from a power line being placed underground through the business district.

 

Some residents resigned themselves to this construction with hopes of a silver lining--that Alpine Blvd. will look and function better when it is all done. They may be deluding themselves, though. 

 

For three years, the Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG) had a SRPL Ad Hoc Subcommittee. Three years. No one is quite sure what it did, since it never had agendas or minutes. Let's take a minute and take a look at what its Chairman, George Barnett, said would happen versus what the reality is a year after his communication to the community of Alpine.

 

This is a communication by George Barnett of a year ago, 10/2010, in the Alpine Community Network: http://www.alpinecommunitynetwork.com/2010/10/possible-changes-to-alpine...

 

Let's look at what George said, and where we are a year later.

 

George 10/2010: "The County obtained two different sets of grant monies for which to pay for further studying the improvement of Alpine's down town. On(e) set of funding paid for consultants to prepare a visualization study of what Alpine Boulevard might look like if it were to be improved to the concepts the Revitalization workshops."

 

Actual 9/2011: According to the County Presentation at the ACPG last month, the final design will not be done until 12/2012.

 

George 10/2010: "The current PER has become the basis of negotiating with SDGE, and they have agreed to pay for perhaps 95% of all the work in order to mitigate the impacts of the power project on Alpine."

 

Actual 9/2011: At last month's ACPG meeting, it was revealed that SRPL will pay for only 60% of Streetscape, e.g. only for 60% of curbs and sidewalks between Victoria and Tavern. Of the area not already done, for example excluding the area already done in front of Albertsons, the County will have to pay for the rest (except, of course, the County has NO money to do that). Please note this does NOT include any "beautification", e.g. planting trees, etc.

 

George 10/2010: "So where we are today, is that Alpine has the real opportunity to improve Alpine Boulevard in both appearance and its ability to handle traffic - and to get it paid for by SDGE."

 

Actual 9/2011: See above. Also, take a drive by Alpine Elementary and see if it really is improved in appearance. (My personal "ugly" award goes to the metal bridge across the small gully right in front. But please, don't let me influence your opinion.)

 

George 10/2010: "Concurrent to all of this work is the under-grounding of all overhead utilities along Alpine Boulevard at the same time everything else is being constructed. To this end the county has approved the formation of an Alpine Underground Utilities District and has allocated $4 million to the effort."

 

Actual 9/2011: Ahhhh, where did the $4 million go? I don't see any poles coming down and at the last ACPG meeting, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) affirmed they are NOT undergrounding the current lines.

 

George 10/2010: "But that is not the end. Revitalization and the APG is already working with the county on performing a detailed block-by-block town plan, and in getting more sports fields built. That sort of work will require grant writing by the town and by the county for design work, then property purchases, then actual construction. If Alpiners at that future time wish to proceed with direct beautification projects and with additional sports fields, citizens will have to determine how that work will be funded. There is no provisions in existing county ordinances to raise funds or tax for that kind of improvements. It will be up to the residents. One way of funding the maintenance and operation of beautification and sports projects is for voters to approve a ballot measure to establish a beautification district and a sports district. That means taxing in some manner. But it's way too early in the process to start looking at funding. The first concrete steps are in getting the Alpine Boulevard improvements finalized and built."

 

Actual 9/2011: I have seen NO plans whatsoever, especially for sports fields. How does everyone feel about taxing ourselves for a "...beautification district and a sports district..."? (Hint: How do you like that you taxed yourself for a new high school that isn't happening?)

 

Is it just me, or do some of you think that the ACPG/Mr. Barnett didn't take full advantage of the opportunity put forth by SRPL. How many of you agree that for years of having our main street dug up, for a lifetime of ruined views, we got a "good deal" from Mr. Barnett and ACPG?

 

Lou Russo is a member of the Alpine Community Planning Group. The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of its author. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org. Readers may also post comments in the comments section at the end of this reader’s editorial.

 

 

More Lies from Barnett; Blames Others for his Failures

Another set of lies and distortions perpetrated by George Barnett – the president of the Back Country Land Trust – an environmental group. That should be enough said these days, since it his kind of groups that are killing jobs and the economies of our country.

However, let’s talk the bigger picture. Mr. Barnett has done nothing to help the ailing businesses in Alpine, in the wake of the economic disaster the Sunrise Powerlink has caused. Many businesses are going out of business, and employees being laid-off. Yes, the recession takes a large part of the blame, but the SPL is the final nail in the coffin for many shops and shop owners.

George supported SPL (on the record) as a member of the APG. He may think sidewalks and curbs are adequate payment to our community, but shouldn't we have gotten a better deal? And why didn’t he do more to protect the businesses from this mess?

It also turns out SDG&E is NOT responsible to repave all of Alpine Blvd. There are several miles that are the County’s responsibility, and that may take 3-5 years to complete. A slight oversite by Barnett and crew.

Why do we just get “walkways, curbing, side walks, storm water management, paved connecting driveways from private properties onto the Boulevard (instead of dirt tracks or other unimproved ingress/egress), and the Boulevard will be repaved with the latest technology rubberized asphalt for lowered traffic noise, longer life, and less maintenance.” Why didn’t he negotiate face lifts for the local shops; a more homogenized look and feel? Seems to me this community deserves more given the years of horrible inconvenience, loss of monies, and loss of jobs.

While George has done nothing to aid any of the local businesses in distress, Lou has been working with scores of people in our community trying to get financial claims paid by SDG&E.

I have copies of literally hundreds of emails from Lou to various organizations connected with the project. Emails to SDG&E; SD County officials, PAR Construction, Aspen, and numbers of others, on a number of issues related to traffic, rules violations, helicopter flyovers, destruction of county roads never intended to be used for the SPL, storage yard abuse and help to many of the businesses who are suffering through this economic calamity. Can George lay claim to any of these issues?

According to George, Lou’s sole motivation is the permanent blight on his view. How disingenuous. So, the fact the Lou’s view is permanently ruined disqualifies him from commenting or helping the rest of the community? In George’s world, Lou should to be completely unaffected by the SPL to have a say in the matter. His logic is dumbfounding. There are hundreds of people in the area where Lou lives that are permanently effected by the SPL transmission lines. Who speaks for them? George?

George Barnett has done NOTHING to help the local businesses, nor the residents. He has stood by idly while those of us who are dealing with the mess and trying to get through this ordeal are suffering.

Let’s take a step farther back. George has been part of the political fabric of Alpine for well over a decade, possibly two. Just where are those parks he so blithely supports? Where are the playgrounds for our children? Where are our ball fields? Where is the high school? Just what exactly has he accomplished, other than to acquire more land as passive park space for his beloved Back Country Land Trust?

• Free Throw Percentage - 0.0%
• Passing Completion Percentage - 0.0%
• Batting Ave. .000
• Shots on Goal – 0

There is a simple solution here. Barnett and his eco-group could offer part of the 200+ acres that his organization owns for ball fields, etc… Just ten percent of their portion of Wright’s Field would have been more than adequate to provide Alpine and our children with a great play area. Oh, I am sure he will come up with some lame excuse as to why he can’t do that. He’ll say his hands are tied in some regulations somewhere. Typical response from a political puppet master. I’m sure they’ll be some political explanation as to why his group continues to deny our kids an active park. God forbid they give up a few measly acres of their precious passive park in the middle of Alpine to help our kids.

Don’t believe any of what he says. He’ll say there is an Environmental Impact Report on the property that says the land is filled with some kind of protected something-or-other. Ask him for the complete EIR? Not the one from the school district. The EIR for the part of Wright’s Field the BCLT owns. He won’t release it because it doesn’t exist.

Lots of talk; lots of ^^&#*; no results.

Seems everything he is involved with or touches – fails. Just a mixed bag of failed projects. Except to line the coffers of his eco group. What has he exactly accomplished except to support a project that has been a misery to all of us here in Alpine?

Most recently, he has been working in the shadows on a passive park for the land that was mitigated by Albertsons when they built the market. That was supposed to be an active playground for our kids, filled with equipment. Now, we find out that he has been working with the County, in an authorized fashion, to turn that space into passive parkland under the control of his eco-group. So much wrong with this. Who authorized him to act on our behalf? Was it the APG? Where does this self aggrandized sense that he knows what’s best for us exactly come from?

As to George’s assertion that the property shown below will become an active park, don’t hold your breath. This is another lie, and he knows it. This plan calls for millions of dollars to purchase and develop this park. The SD County Park Land Dedication Ordinance (PLDO) fund does not have the monies necessary to develop this project – not even close.

Barnett is quick to cast dispersion elsewhere. Blame others for his failures. Sounds rather a familiar political tactic these days.

George Barnett has hurt Alpine and our children in ways that will be felt for years to come. He is a liar Alpine. It’s just that simple!!!

George Barnett has forwarded

George Barnett has forwarded information refuting and clarifying remarks made by Lou Russo in his editorial above.

 

“There’s so much wrong with Russo’s comments; a compendium of aged stuff taken out of the broader context in which they were made and from two different venues; reports I have made to the Alpine Community Planning Group as a member of Dianne Jacob’s Alpine Revitalization Steering Committee and from Alpine Community Planning Group meetings,” writes Barnett.  “Russo mashs those together to construe an apparent support for his own personal views."

 

Barnett states that curbing and walkways are “complete except for a final asphalt repaving.” While some Alpiners may feel sidewalks change the town’s rural character, beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder. “To me it looks danged good, a vast improvement,” Barnett writes, “including making the pick-up and drop-off of children at Alpine Elementary much, much safer.  These improvements, and the timing of their construction, were driven by the local school district.”

 

Barnett, in October 2010, observed that "Concurrent to all of this work is the under-grounding of all overhead utilities along Alpine Boulevard at the same time everything else is being constructed. To this end the county has approved the formation of an Alpine Underground Utilities District and has allocated $4 million to the effort."
 

Russo asked in his editorial, “Actual 9/2011: Ahhhh, where did the $4 million go? I don't see any poles coming down and at the last ACPG meeting, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) affirmed they are NOT undergrounding the current lines.”

 

 

Barnett forwarded a May 12, 2010 Board of Supervisors document indicating that last year, the Board of Supervisors approved an underground utility district along Alpine Blvd.  “The project includes placing existing over-head utilities (power distribution, cable, telephone, etc.) underground.  The project is a County project to be undertaken generally concurrent with the Sunrise Powerlink work for obvious reasons,” he noted. “The project is funded by $4 million approved by the BOS from so-called A-20 funds, an account under County ordinance into which rate payers have been paying for years to fund utility undergrounding in the future.  SDGE is not doing the work as it has nothing to do with the Sunrise Powerlink.  But to ensure coordination, most of the underground utility work will be done by SDGE’s contractors.  The work is planned to be completed before the fall of next year.”

 


He adds,  "But that is not the end. Revitalization and the APG is already working with the county on performing a detailed block-by-block town plan, and in getting more sports fields built. That sort of work will require grant writing by the town and by the county for design work, then property purchases, then actual construction. If Alpiners at that future time wish to proceed with direct beautification projects and with additional sports fields, citizens will have to determine how that work will be funded. There is no provisions in existing county ordinances to raise funds or tax for that kind of improvements. It will be up to the residents. One way of funding the maintenance and operation of beautification and sports projects is for voters to approve a ballot measure to establish a beautification district and a sports district. That means taxing in some manner. But it's way too early in the process to start looking at funding. The first concrete steps are in getting the Alpine Boulevard improvements finalized and built."
 
As for Russo’s contention there he has seen “NO plans whatsoever, especially for sports fields. How does everyone feel about taxing ourselves for a "...beautification district and a sports district,” Barnett responds:
 

“There is a long standing plan for a sports field.” He forwarded a series of Alpine Community Planning Group e-mails, on which Russo was copied, discussing a proposed park behind Albertson’s shopping center. 

 

“Under the auspices of the Revitalization program, a mutual letter of understanding has been signed with a prospective property owner, and various Alpine stakeholders.  The County performed an appraisal, and initiated purchase discussions.  The project has been awaiting the BOS approval of the General Plan Update and is conditioned on the property owner receiving approval to relocate some of his industrial operations to another site.  County Parks have performed a conceptual study,” Barnett writes. “This information is all in the public domain via reports to the Alpine CPG.  Here is the County concept plan:  3 baseball diamonds, soccer/football field, kiddies’ playground, amenities and parking, etc.”  He included this rendering of the proposed sports fields:

 
 

Barnett also objects at Russo’s claim that the APCG didn't take full advantage of the opportunity put forth by Sunrise Powerlink.

 

“Here Russo lets the cat out of the bag when he talks of “a lifetime of ruined views”.  Of course, by the time the Sunrise Powerlink project is finished, nothing will be seen of it the length of Alpine Boulevard as it will all be underground,” Barnett observes.  “And all existing overhead utilities will be underground.”  Alpine Boulevard will be vastly improved in terms of walkways, curbing, side walks, storm water management, paved connecting driveways from private properties onto the Boulevard (instead of dirt tracks or other unimproved ingress/egress), and the Boulevard will be repaved with the latest technology rubberized asphalt for lowered traffic noise, longer life, and less maintenance.  What therefore does Russo mean by “ruined views?”  He’s talking about his personal home site in east Alpine that overlooks part of the Sweetwater River watershed to the south.  From his home site on Montecido, Russo will see some of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line towers as they march north and west towards and up Star Valley Road.  His interests against the project are personally motivated and have little to do with the town’s people.” 

 

Barnett further criticized Russ: “He has not participated in any of the work by any Alpine stakeholder, including the work of the Revitalization group and the Alpine CPG, over the past 5 years or so in trying to improve the town.  Russo would rather, it seems, tell us after the fact – way after the fact including way after these items were presented, reviewed and approved at Alpine CPG meetings before the public -  that the work of others is deficient, and that he would have done it better.  But because he’s never participated, and refuses to ask questions from those that did participate, he gets much of the story quite wrong.”

 

Time His Lies Became Public - Hoorah

George Barnett has been active in Alpine’s politics for years and has hurt our community inestimably. He is a community organizer who uses his position on the Alpine Planning Group to do nothing more than lobby for the Back Country Land Trust – an environmental group of which he is president.

He has been a major player/architect on the PowerLink project – fail. He was a major player of the Alpine High School Citizens Committee – EPIC FAIL. His accomplishments include working to bankrupt the Stagecoach Ranch builder and keep them from building a golf course community in Alpine – in order to secure 230 acres of passive park space in the middle of our city, even though we are horseshoed by hundreds of thousands of acres of Cleveland National Forest.

Another egregious example: Most people in our community do not realize there is approximately 165 acres of Wrights Fields which is still owned by a private individual – Mr. Singer. The BCLT has been trying for years to get their hands on it and get Mr. Singer to donate it to them as well. Apparently, 230 acres just wasn’t enough. Several years ago, Mr. Singer was considering giving 80 acres of HIS remaining land to the Grossmont District for the new high school – at no charge. Barnett’s BCLT threatened Mr. Singer and the School District with lawsuits, if they proceeded. The donated land would have exactly filled the funding gap, and we would likely have a high school being built right now. This is something he and his group have worked tirelessly to prevent becoming public.

Barnett has been lying to his neighbors for decades. In an era where people crave transparency, he has been working behind closed doors to make deals. The most recent example is the mitigated space for the Albertson’s Supermarket. We were all led to believe that would be an active park – a park that our kids could play in. Now, Mr. Barnett has publicly asserted that he has been acting as a liaison between the county and community to ensure the space would be a passive park, and under the control of his BCLT. No playground equipment. Just walking paths.

My fellow Alpiners, this man has, in all likelihood, hurt our community and our children more than any one individual. These are just a few examples of the largest issues.

I am tired of the lies of this untrustworthy individual. Bravo Mr. Russo for exposing some of his recent high jinks. Thank you for exposing this man for what he is – a liar and a thief – subverting the good will of the people in our community.

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