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

Agricultural Center Conference Room
Agricultural Commissioners Office
1432 Abbott Street , Salinas
Monday, August 9, 2007
1:00 PM– 3:00 PM

Note: Maps referenced in this meeting are linked at the bottom of this page

1. Vice-chairman Jack Stewart called the meeting to order and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. A roll call of members was conducted.

Present –Frank Aguillon (District 2), Leonard Ortiz (District 3), 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), Bruce Evans (for William Gourley, Ft. Ord Retiree Council), Alec Arago (for Representative Sam Farr), Colleen Freeman (for Assemblyman John Laird), Rito Guerra (for Senator Abel Maldonado).

Excused – Ralph Villar (District 1), James Bogan (District 4).

2. Public Comment –

Luis Montana – How many acres for cemetery site and how many dedicated to cemetery? Various CAC members - Approx. 170 acres. Usable acres +/- 15%. Some land my be used to finance endowment fund needed by State to meet ongoing operation costs. That is the purpose of the land use study and plan recommended by the Staff Working Group.

Joe Tynman – How many veterans can be buried at the proposed site? Mr Stewart – According to the report/plan developed by the State, 120,000.

Unknown – Has boundary been established by a legal meets and bound description? Mr. Garcia - Land is pending transfer from the US Army to FOR A. Is there a preliminary title report? Mr. Clark – Meets and bounds to be established when cemetery land is conveyed to the State of California.

Joe Tynman – How much money has been donated toward the cemetery to date? Mr. Garza- $80,000. How much is needed overall? $3.5 million. Who is in charge of donations? Mr. Stewart – Central Coast Cemetery Foundation (Janet Parks). At a recent State Veterans of Foreign Wars convention a representative of the Governor said there is not enough support to get the cemetery completed. Mr. Guerra – There is support. Mr. Jorgensen – I have never heard anything negative from the State. Mr. Garza provided a brief history of efforts to establish the cemetery to date. Ms Parks - All veterans say they want a cemetery, but they won’t donate until it is built.

James Melgy – Not seen any information published about how to donate, just “contact your Congressman”. Mr. Garza – In the past five months the Foundation has run two full page newspaper ads soliciting donations and there is a link to the Foundation on the Military & Veterans Affairs Office website. Mr. Stewart – We need to continue the process in the media to draw public attention. Once bylaws are passed, one of the subcommittees to be established will be P.R.

Ed Whalen – Please have patience. This process has been going on for 13 or 14 years. It takes time. It took 17 years to establish the State Veterans Cemetery in Shasta.

Greg Nakamishi – Is there a marketing plan for fundraising, going to foundations and corporations for assistance? Mr. Stewart – The Foundation has done some marketing, but can use all the help it can get. The proposed plan for a consultant that the Staff Working Group is involved in is part of this process as well.

Frank Hernandez – When will bylaws be approved? Mr. Stewart – That is the next item on the agenda and they will go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval following CAC approval.

Unknown consultant – When would it be appropriate to address issues regarding the County’s RFP for a consultant to work on the cemetery project? Mr. Cook - Either after the FORA presentation or speak to me after the meeting.

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

4. Presentation by Jonathan Garcia (FORA) on Fort Ord clean up and endangered species habitat issues was introduced by Jim Cook. Mr. Cook noted that the process to get the cemetery project was moving forward, but that there needed to be an understanding of some of the obstacles that exist as well. Mr. Garcia provided a history, current status and projected future of the Ft. Ord base clean up process. He noted that, since a schedule for clean up has not yet been established, there is the potential/opportunity to transfer property with completed development plans sooner. He also noted that the land designated for use as a veterans’ cemetery is not a habitat reserve for endangered species. FORA is seeking permits for the “development” parcels, including the cemetery, that would address endangered species concerns.

Bob Harrell – We understood that the cemetery land was clean. Mr. Garcia – There is evidence of training in the area and ordinance has been found.

Unknown – The area was an impact zone for mortar and artillery. Mr. Guerra – The clean up plan for this area is under review.

Consultant – Is there going to be a survey of animals and plants in the area? Mr. Garcia – It will be done as part of the environmental review.

Mr. Channell – Is 2011 a reasonable timeframe for end of clean up? What happens when an endangered species is identified? Mr. Garcia – Clean up will be done before 2011, but approval by all relevant agencies may take until then. FORA is going for a base-wide permit that will eliminate delays by designating habitat areas. Mr. Arago – 2008 is a reasonable timeframe. The Habitat Management Plan will allow” takes” in development areas because other habitat areas will be preserved. Mr. Mancini – Summarized Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) process.

Mr. Cook – FORA has combined State and federal processes to document protection of endangered species in order to speed up resolution of habitat issues. FORA has also taken action to take responsibility for and speed up the environmental clean up process, with federal funding.

Mr. Channell – Has clean up started on cemetery property? No. When is it scheduled to start? Mr. Cook – That is being negotiated now.

5. Presentation by Nick Nichols (Monterey County Redevelopment Agency) on transportation infrastructure issues. FORA base reuse plan address the need for road improvements to accommodate transportation needs arising from development. Proposed development of “Eastside” Road, connecting Reservation Road to East Garrison Road to Eucalyptus Road will run by property designated for the cemetery and should be built by 2010/2011. That land needs to be cleared and transferred in order for work to start. FORA and Monterey County Public Works are working together on the design and construction or the roadway.

Mr. Channell – With this be a four lane road? Mr. Nichols – No, a high speed two lane road.

Unknown - Is right of way in place? Mr. Nichols – A 200 foot corridor has been established.

Unknown - Will the road establish the eastern boundary of the cemetery? Mr. Nichols – The 200 foot corridor was established to run along the property line.

Consultant - What about water supply? Mr. Nichols – Water is another infrastructure issue. Mr. Mancini – City of Seaside and County of Monterey have water allocations. Negotiation for water from these allocations is possible. Mr. Stewart – This Committee will ask the Staff Working Group to look into this issue at a later time.

6. Mr. Garza stated that his research had shown that Committee minutes cannot be published on CAC page at the Military & Veterans Affairs Office web site before they are formally approved by the CAC. Mr. Arago stated that he will be providing a historical background to be posted on the site shortly.

Meeting adjourned at 2:45 pm. Next meeting September 13, 2007 at the Health Department Conference Room, 1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey.


MAPS referenced during this meeting (all maps below are in .pdf format):