MINUTES OF THE FORT ORD VETERAN’S CEMETERY CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Public Health Department Conference Room
1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey
Thursday July 12, 2007
1:00 – 3:00 PM
 

1. Chairman James Bogan called the meeting to order and a roll call of members was conducted.

Present – Ralph Villar (District 1), Frank Aguillon (District 2), Leonard Ortiz (District 3), James Bogan (District 4), Ralph “Norm” Channell (District 5), Abel Quinones (United Veterans Council), Jack Stewart (United Veterans Council). Ex officio – Steve Jorgensen (California Department of Veterans Affairs), Eddie Pedrozo (Monterey County Military & Veterans Affairs Advisory Commission), Janet Parks (Central Coast Veterans Cemetery Foundation) , Tom Mancini (Ft. Ord Reuse Authority), Alec Arago (for Representative Sam Farr), Rito Guerra (for Senator Maldonado).

Excused – Pat Feore (for William Gourley, Ft. Ord Retiree Council), Colleen Freeman (for Assemblyman John Laird).

Absent – Barbara Nelson (City of Seaside).

2. None

3. By-laws – Motion/second (Stewart/Aguillon)) (that the bylaw, as amended, be recommended for approval. Motion carried.

4. Pamela Lapham (for Jim Cook) presented the report of the Staff Working Group meeting of July 3, 2007. (Report attached). Motion/second (Stewart/Channell), to accept Scope of Work as presented. Motion carried. Mr. Channell requested that the Staff Working Group report be published as an addendum to the minutes.

5. Mr. Arago reported on the status of legislative efforts to increase the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reimbursement for veterans’ burial costs. A legislative effort to increase the reimbursement amount last year was unsuccessful last year and was not reintroduced this year. Congressional efforts regarding VA funding are being focused on enhancing health care. He pointed out that an increase in the reimbursement amount would reduce the overall amount needed to make the State Central Coast Cemetery Endowment Fund viable.

Mr. Stewart commented on VA policy regarding cemetery construction and the organizational makeup of VA.

Mr. Jorgensen pointed out that veterans’ burial reimbursements were not restricted to State veterans’ cemeteries and, therefore, represented significant federal expenditure.

Mr. Arago concurred and announced that VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, William F. Tuerk, will be in this area on August 20, 2007 to review the status of the cemetery project.

6. Mr. Mancini reported that both FORA and the City of Seaside are willing to work with the CAC. The process for waiving any development fees associated with the sale of any “excess” land on the cemetery parcel will have to be negotiated.

(Question from public): “I thought that land was set aside.” (Mr. Mancini): Land is set aside in reuse plan, but has not been officially transferred. (Mr. Arago): Expanded on the issues of the establishment of the Cemetery Endowment Fund and the sale of “surplus” land to fund the endowment.

(Mr. Channell): Who owns the land? (Mr. Mancini) FORA is the agent that approves how land is to be used, gets the deed for the land published by the Department of the Army and transfers the land to the user.

(Ms Parks) I thought Seaside gave the land for a cemetery. (Mr. Bogan): The land for the cemetery is allocated to the City of Seaside and County of Monterey, but still controlled by FORA. (Ms Lapham): But the land is earmarked for a cemetery, not any other use. (Mr. Mancini): A cemetery only.

(Question from public): How is it determined that there is too much land? (Mr. Arago): That is the reason for the development study. (Mr. Garza): The federal requirement is that a cemetery has to be open for 20 years. (Mr. Jorgensen): Increase in cremations and new technology are increase life of cemeteries. (Mr. Channell, Mr. Villar, Mr. Bogan, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Arago): General discussion about other possible uses for land in and around cemetery. (Mr. Villar): Let’s concentrate on the cemetery. We have no control how the County or Seaside or Marina use the land around it. We can’t resolve all those other details, so let’s just stick to the cemetery

(Mr. Channell): Where is money to pay consultant going to come from? (Ms Lapham): Until cost is known, question is a bit premature, but it will be a joint effort of agencies of jurisdiction.

(Public comment): Information about what is going on with this project is difficult to obtain. Will plans and minutes be posted on website? (Mr. Garza): With CAC permission, approved minutes will be posted on the CAC page of the County Military & Veterans Affairs Office website. Agendas will be posted there as well. (Mr. Arago): A brief summary of the history and status of the project would be a good thing to include on the web site also.

(Public comment) Attending meeting for a long time. Leaves them not knowing what is going on. There is no excess land, it is all for a cemetery. Also offered ideas on cemetery design and fund raising. (Ms Lapham) Part of the scope of work includes public outreach.

(Mr. Villar) Offered to speak before any organization interested in getting information about the cemetery or what is being done to get the project finished.

Meeting adjourned at 2:30 pm. Next meeting August 9, 2007 at the Agriculture Department Conference room.