November 14, 2022 – After a lengthy discussion at Monday’s City Council meeting, another topic that involves a specific amount of money spent by the City was discussed briefly before being approved by a 4-0 council vote, with one absence due to Mayor Jose Flores’ abstention.
$2 Million extra dollars were afforded to the efforts of the creation of the Landmark Square which will house both the new Clovis Senior Activity Center and a new Transit Center.
After an update on the construction of the Landmark Square was given by Planning and Development Services Director Renee Mathis, council made the decision to add a budget amendment of plus $2 million in hopes to further complete the site.
This added $2 million intends to cover further delays created by the soil conditions, other project delays, design modifications, increases in materials and labor costs, and construction management costs.
Councilman Vong Mouanoutoua, frustrated more with the DTSC, (Department of Toxic Substance Control) stated, “You know I don’t like it when the government does something that keeps increasing and increasing and increasing because when I first got on the council, what was it the 13 to the 19 [million dollar increase]? And that bothered me a lot.”
Mouanoutoua then went on to recollect that the last budget increase was due to the DTSC, but thought it was warranted due to the soil contamination that was found at the site.
It was then explained that $1.3 million out of the $2 million will be taken from the general fund of the City of Clovis, and where this will affect the fund balance available for the City of Clovis, City Manager John Holt believes that they can cover this portion directly from the general fund. There will be no cuts for other departments due to this addition.
As Mouanoutoua explained, at each delay there is cost, and this specific delay, explained by Renee Mathis comes from the DTSC. Examples such as testing buildings and operations can take up to 6-8 weeks causing further delays for the construction of the buildings and the site as a whole.
Councilman Drew Bessinger asked if involving other legislators in the DTSC situation would help the timing and staffing issue that is claimed to have been going on at the Department of Toxic Substances.
Mathis affirmed to the council that the prior agent that the City was working with at the DTSC was removed from the situation and that this is now the third different agent that they will be working with on the issue of the soil contamination. The City is hoping to get something back by December on how they can continue with this project.
It was settled that if the DTSC does not respond by mid-December, the City may go to further legislators in the state as an “added pressure”.
Nonetheless, the Landmark Square, which includes the new sites for the Clovis Senior Activity Center- A Smittcamp Family Legacy, and the William H. “Harry” Armstrong Transit Center is said to still be on track for a spring 2023 completion. With that spring completion however, the sites are more or less looking to be in full use by the summer of 2023.
For now however, the remaining balance that has been taken to fund this center totals up to around $25 million, with only time telling whether or not that number will rise or remain stagnant.