City approves $800K power pole relocation

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council voted last week to use $811,718,87 in Tax Allocation Bond funds for the relocation of a Southern California Edison power pole on South Downs Street near Ridgecrest Charter School. The pole’s relocation puts the city one step closer to widening and repaving the road. The South Downs Street Improvement Project will ultimately result in a four-lane street properly marked for safe crossing.

The street project has been discussed for many years now, and a dispute with SCE over who is responsible for moving the power pole has been a thorn in the project’s side.

The city allocated the TAB funds “under protest,” hoping to be refunded “if the city prevails in the rights determination,” according to a staff report.

“We think there is a very strong case to be made here that we have the superior right,” said City Engineer Loren Culp. “We have researched the case law and there is a very strong case that we would get our money back.”

Councilmember Lindsey Stephens opposed the distribution of funds, questioning whether the expense was appropriate with so many local roads in need of repair. The resolution passed 3-2 with Stephens and Councilmember Wallace Martin opposing.

Council also officially bid farewell to Economic Development Manager Gary Parsons last week. After 16 years with the city, Parsons is retiring and valley newcomer Phenvana “Pen” Panpradith is stepping in as community and economic development manager.

Council will meet next on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m. at City Hall.

For more information visit www.ridgecrest-ca.gov/ridgecrest-city-council.

Story First Published: 2017-09-29