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Council votes added funds to improve parks

By Helen Tomlin News Review Staff Writer–

The Ridgecrest City Council met for their first meeting in June.  All four items under the “Consent Calendar” portion of the meeting were voted on unanimously by the city council members. Besides approving the Minutes from last week, additional park funds were voted on for unforeseen changes that could happen after bidding for the Leroy Jackson Softball Shade Structure Project.  Also, for the softball fields, Ron Strand was authorized to sign a “Notice of Completion” for the Installation of four dugout shade covers and four spectator seating shade covers. Finally, there was a resolution for Ridgecrest to “levy and collect sewer fees” on the general tax rolls for the fiscal year 2023-2024.

Under the “Discussion/Action Items” portion of the meeting, Deputy City Manager, Travis Reed, discussed a resolution to “levy and collect assessments” within The Consolidated Landscaping and Lighting District no. 2012-1. He explained that all seven Districts have Landscaping and Lighting needs that are addressed by the assessments. Of note, “The Zone 3 District (which includes the areas around the new Walmart, specifically on Bowman Road and on China Lake Blvd), is running in structural deficit.  This is because of a previous city council action that limited the assessed amount on four parcels.  With all reserves depleted, Ridgecrest’s citizens are paying $8000 per year to subsidize four properties.”  The council gave directions for the city staff to work within the committee to bring the assessments back in good standing and end the deficit spending.

Under the “Ordinance” section of the meeting, Heather Spurlock reported that the zoning map where Villa Crest Apartments will be built would change from medium density (R-2) with a park designation to high density (R-3) with the park designation removed.  This 21-acre parcel is located east of Downs Street and south of Rader Avenue.  This apartment complex has 361 units planned in three phases.

There were three changes proposed for the city’s budget.  First, $13,000 was added to the IT Department for two transmitters for the IWV TV boosters. Second, $80,000 was added for the police department to acquire License Plate Readers (LPR) software.  And finally, $92,380 has been added to make room for another mechanic position for the city’s fleet maintenance.

During the council’s comment section, Scott Hayman objected to the LPR technology that the police department is asking to be put on the budget.  He said he has been researching this topic and does not know if he wants to “keep perpetuating [this type of] surveillance on the public.”  He said that from his research, he has found that in some cities that have implemented it, they might have nine hits out of one million leads, but three to four were not valid, and only three stolen cars were retrieved.  He felt this was not a good use of the city’s money. He said, “I’m not comfortable with it myself.”

During public comments on this portion of the meeting, Mike Sinnott continued with Hayman’s reservations about LPR being implemented by the police department in Ridgecrest. He agreed with Hayman that this technology is bothersome and said, “It’s not just the cost to deploy them, but the staff time and the cost of making it less desirable to come to Ridgecrest.”  He added, “When people realize they’re being monitored and surveilled,” it makes them feel unwelcome here.  He said, “We can hide our phones, but we can’t hide our license plates.”

After both council and public comments, Mayor Eric Bruen stated that these budget changes would be discussed and voted on at the June 21st council meeting.

During the “Committee Report” section, Councilman Kyle Blades announced an upcoming “Community Resource Fair,” which will be held Friday, June 23, from 10 am to 2 pm at the Kerr McGee Community Center (100 W. California Ave).   Many organizations are slated to be there, offering services for aging adults, veterans, animal care, crime prevention, families, and much more.

In his report from the “Parks and Recreation” committee, Bruen emphasized that the goal is to “get as many of these projects rolling out simultaneously [as possible], so the impact on the citizens is at a minimum.”  A few of the planned projects mentioned were shade structures for Leroy Jackson’s skate park and for the upper softball field project at Kerr McGee.  There will be “Pool Town Hall #3” on Tuesday, June 20, at the Council Chambers at 5:30 pm.

Council Member Skip Gorman asked for input from the community for theme ideas for the new pool project.  He requested that four elements be integrated into the theme: the Navy, the water, the desert, and, of course, Sergeant Pinney.  Any ideas can be emailed to .

The next City Council meeting will be held June 21 at 6 pm in the City Hall Council Chambers. However, the July 5th meeting will be canceled.