No New DWP Lease- No Federal Money for Bishop

Money and land, if you dont have either, you have to hustle.

City Administrator Rick Pucci has been working with the Department of Water and Power to negotiate a long term lease for the Bishop City Park that will in turn allow the City of Bishop to pursue federal money to possibly build new facilities at the park. bishop_park

Pucci reports that in September of 2008 the City of Bishop and local LADWP staff had worked out a new lease agreement that would give Bishop both greater control over what happens at the park property and a lease extension to 40 years. Ten months later, delays in the LA City bureaucracy have left the new lease in limbo hurting Bishops ability to apply for federal economic stimulus money.

In the past, when the City of Bishop wanted to make improvements to the park, the improvements had to be cleared with LA. A new lease will allow us to move forward without entanglements when we deal with the City of Los Angeles, Pucci told the Bishop City Council this week. He called the newly negotiated lease, a vital document for the City of Bishop.

In a city with a slow economy, Bishop staff works to find federal and state grant money to pay for projects. Pucci explained that a 40 year lease would help the city pursue money to build facilities in the park like a community center, basketball courts, baseball diamonds and others. He added that Bishop had already missed a deadline to apply for $5 million in federal money for the park because Bishop could not show long-term control over the property.

With another August deadline to apply for federal money fast approaching, Pucci appeared to be upping the pressure on DWP to get the lease agreement through the, bureaucratic morass of the City of Los Angeles.

Assistant DWP Aqueduct Manager Clarence Martin explained that a mix-up at the legal department after a word change had contributed to the delay, but also explained that the lease had to be approved by the DWP Commissioners, before heading to the City Council Energy Environment Committee. From there, Martin said that the lease would have to go to the LA City Council, where the lease would require a two thirds vote. This is not something that happens overnight, he said.

In response to Pucci, who had said that the city missed a March deadline to apply for $5 million, Martin said that, If Rick thought that this would be done by March, he was sadly mistaken, adding that the Council takes a summer recess in August, so Bishop wont likely have the lease approved before the next August deadline.

Councilman Jeff Griffiths explained that the reason that Bishop is pushing this issue now is that while the current DWP General Manager David Nahai is supportive of this 40 year lease, Nahai might not be in charge of DWP forever. Political winds change, he said, and added, a delay could cost us the whole thing.

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