To the Editor: Responds to O’Neil editorial

This letter is in response to, and was inspired by, the guest editorial authored by Scott O’Neil and published in the Aug. 9 edition of The News Review. In his editorial, Scott challenges us to identify our city’s vision for the future as a means of focusing our response to proposed projects by builders who seek support of the city with their projects.

As a 49-year resident of Ridgecrest and 24-year employee of the Navy at China Lake, I?find it perfectly clear what the mission of Ridgecrest growth is and should be for the foreseeable future. What is clear is the long-standing synergism between the city and the Navy. We need each other.

I submit that the No. 1 item in any specification for a Ridgecrest mission statement is support of the Navy’s continuing growth at China Lake. I further submit that all new projects coming before the city’s planning reviewers be evaluated as to how and in what way this project meets that criterion. Projects should then be graded on that basis and those with high compliance be encouraged by suitable perks or incentives granted by the city to further encourage support of the Navy at China Lake. Such perks could be in the form of reduced taxes and fees applied to a project or delays in the implementation of such as lighting districts etc.

Here is a suggested short beginning outline of a Ridgecrest mission statement:

1. It is the mission of the city of Ridgecrest to directly enable the growth and support of the Navy’s mission at China Lake.

2. The city of Ridgecrest shall indirectly encourage growth projects that provides service to the mission of China Lake.

3. ...

Folks smarter than I can identify how a project can be in support of the Navy, but here area few ideas to start with.

The Navy needs many items of civilian nature in order to carry out its mission at China Lake. Some of them are affordable housing for civilian employees and military visitors (a currently pressing need); foodstuffs (the military contingent requires fresh food for daily issuance); office supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, computers, erasers, etc.

Also required are motor vehicle repair beyond what local capability can handle and construction labor to install new infrastructure such as concrete buildings and paved roadways.

City employees servicing compliant projects need to be specifically encouraged and empowered to implement the authorized contractor incentives. An employee reward program that encourages city assistance to projects would encourage the proper attitude.

Further meeting between organizations like the chamber of commerce and the Navy can identify the types of project that can be supported by my suggested scheme.

The implementation of this process will require a reorganization of the city staff and a change in the city staff attitude towards project leaders. The new attitude will be one of cooperation between the city and the project leaders to enhance the support of the Navy at China Lake.

The partnership between the city employee and the project leader can be viewed as a “team” that can awarded at the completion of the project.

It is apparent that any new project process must protect the experience and knowledge of the existing China Lake workforce or employee morale would plummet and declining productivity would follow.

I hope that sharing my thoughts on this subject will encourage those with the power of position to consider this as a possible start to development of a Ridgecrest mission statement.

Noel Gravelle

Story First Published: 2019-08-16