But the project still needs county board of supervisors approval and -- the real challenge -- to scrape together $30 million for construction.
The project has about $10 million committed to it, and authority board member Sam Pedroza said at last week's meeting that fundraising difficulties could derail the project. Of course, he said the same thing to the Los Angeles Times a year and a half ago when the authority had raised only -- $10 million.
"Was the center planned to be built 'regardless' of what the actual citizens in the region want? Was the request for public comment simply (and cynically) an effort to make people believe they actually have a say-so about such things?"If you're interested in a recap of the meeting at which this took place, please see the Pasadena Star-News story, "Officials OK new river center at Whittier Narrows site."
The story gives a good sense of the opposition that was expressed at the Jan. 21 meeting, but it doesn't place it into the context of the opposition that's been building for some time. (Have a look at the reader comments for an idea of the growing anger over the waste of the public's money.)
If you take last week's meeting and the public hearings on the project's draft environmental impact report last summer, this is who you see lining up against the project:
- Numerous residents of the local communities that are the ostensible beneficiaries of the project
- Local members of environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Aububon Society
- Latinos ranging from high school and college students to professionals and retirees
- Numerous educators, including a past vice-president of Rio Hondo College
But who supports the project? you ask. A very small, very narrow slice of society, to judge from the handful of voices speaking in favor of the project at the same hearings and meeting. And few, if any, of these drawn from the communities of the Whittier Narrows area.
But none of this seems to matter to the RMC and the water districts that apparently can't wait to take advantage of the marketing and meeting-space opportunities the outsized building promises.
It makes one wonder if the environmental review process was undertaken in good faith, or as one observer of this matter asked: "Was the center planned to be built 'regardless' of what the actual citizens in the region want? Was the request for public comment simply (and cynically) an effort to make people believe they actually have a say-so about such things?"
The project must be serving someone's interests. But whoever that someone is, it's clearly not the community.