Newman takes on board over air base plan

NEWMAN -- The City Council is preparing a letter of opposition to the proposed industrial park at the former Crows Landing air facility, denouncing its impact on the West Side and chastising the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors for not engaging local leaders in the decision-making process.

"The city of Newman remains unconvinced the board will protect the values and quality of life of west Stanislaus County residents and communities during the redevelopment of the Crows Landing Air Base," a draft copy of the letter states.

It continues, "Previous board decisions and the failure of the master developer to engage local leadership and incorporate them into the development process reinforces the belief that this project is based more upon politics than job development and sound planning."

It is the second time the council has spelled out its opposition to the project headed by PCCP West Park's Gerry Kamilos. Kamilos is negotiating with Stanislaus County to build a 4,500-acre industrial and business park surrounding the Crows Landing air facility, with a short-haul rail link to the Port of Oakland.

Newman's council, as well as Patterson's City Council, sent similar letters of opposition to the Board of Supervisors in February before the supervisors decided on a 3-2 vote to go with the West Park proposal.

The council did not vote to send the letter at its Tuesday night meeting because Councilman Ted Kelly was absent and the council wants to present a unanimous front, said City Manager Michael Holland. It will return to the council Nov. 13.

It lists a number of concerns about the Crows Landing pro- posal, including its impact on the West Side, aesthetics, size of the project and related urban growth. Newman has invested a lot of money into revamping its downtown corridor, the letter said, and having a rail yard nearby will affect the city negatively and deter future investment.

"The city will not support a plan that transforms west Stanislaus County into a rail yard with stockpiles of graffiti-laden storage containers and railcars," the letter said.

Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at csalerno@modbee.com or 238-4574.

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