The last community-based environmental organization on the booster committee for the troubled San Gabriel River Discovery Center water museum project voted in July to remove itself from the committee.
The exit of the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society is the latest page in an exodus from the project. In past years, the Discovery Center Authority claimed to have nearly 30 members on the committee. Today the list is down to seven.
The project booster committee is now made up almost exclusively of government agencies and water districts, a fact which reveals the project for what it is: unsustainable pork-barrel spending at a time when the taxpayer and ratepayer can no longer bear it.The $22 million taxpayer-funded water museum and meeting hall -- deemed "incompatible" with the Whittier Narrows Significant Ecological Area by the county's own habitat experts -- is being pushed by a group of government agencies and water districts. Now, their booster committee consists almost exclusively of other government agencies and water districts.
Remaining members include the watershed council, an interest group dominated by agencies, water districts and utility companies; and another government agency whose chairman supports expanded oil drilling in the nearby Whittier Hills even though the agency was established to protect habitat and wildlife there.
Organizations that have decided to walk away because of their opposition to the project or their concerns about its goals, impacts and viability include the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and the Whittier Narrows Nature Center Associates. Volunteer members of these and other organizations are deeply committed to community, conservation and education -- and they reject the destruction of wildlife habitat and public lands for a building intended primarily as a meeting hall for government officials and water execs.
But the authority seems to be little concerned that the local community, the habitat experts and the conservationists have all rejected the project. With a handful of its fellow agencies still on the booster club, the authority can claim a kind of support. But that support reveals the project for what it is: unsustainable pork-barrel spending at a time when the taxpayer and ratepayer can no longer bear it.