Developing Lockeford's first community park and expanding sewage capacity to aid development dominated Tuesday's Lockeford Community Services District candidates forum.
Incumbent Chris Locke said acquiring the district's 10 acres and developing the land has been a pet project for him.
"With our four boys, we spend a lot of time going to Lodi (for recreation)," said Locke, a walnut rancher who comes from the pioneer Locke family for which Lockeford is named.
The board has chosen a landscape architect, but a contract is still being negotiated, Locke said.
Challenger Eileen Indelicato, a Lockeford restaurant owner and president of the Clements-Lockeford Chamber of Commerce, said she is running for district board because of her concern for "proper growth" and to work on the Lockeford portion of the San Joaquin County General Plan.
Challenger Janet Irons, administrative assistant for the Hanot Foundation, a home for the developmentally disabled south of Lockeford, said she is running to learn more about the district's operations.
Locke, Indelicato and Irons are seeking the three available seats on the community services district board, which oversees water and sewer operations and development of the new Lockeford park.
Two other candidates didn't attend Tuesday's forum. Incumbent John Pahl said he couldn't participate due to a family emergency, and challenger Mike Henry was out of town on business.
The forum drew 21 people, including six members of the Lockeford Municipal Advisory Council, which hosted the event at the Mokelumne fire station.
Indelicato urged the district to form a partnership with the Lodi Unified School District for joint use of school grounds and the 10.21-acre park site adjoining the school to the south on Tully Road.
Indelicato said she would like the park to be used for activities like barbecues and a family-type softball game. Irons said she would like to see facilities for children and for the park to be safe.
Asked about how park maintenance would be financed, the three candidates present agreed the district may need to charge ratepayers a small fee, enlist the help of service organizations and seek county, state or private grants.
A related topic was how to prevent crime in the new park. Locke said he hopes for adequate sheriff's patrol since the county will have about 60 new deputies next year. Indelicato said she would like added patrol throughout the community.
Aside from the new community park, questions centered around providing enough sewage disposal capacity to serve the 307-home Livermore Acres subdivision northeast of Brandt and Jack Tone roads.
The county Planning Commission approved the subdivision earlier this year, but the Lockeford Community Services District has enough sewage disposal capacity for only 73 of the homes.
Locke said the district has tried to find suitable farm land near the sewer treatment plant near Brandt and Tully roads, but there is no willing seller.
"It's not as easy as it sounds," Locke said.
The district can't purchase just any parcel, Locke said. For example, it can't buy land where sewage would drain into local creeks.
"I would say they would have to just keep searching," Irons said.
Locke said it's a gray area whether the developer or the community services district has the responsibility to seek land to serve development.
"I think the responsibility lies with the district," Indelicato said.
Since the county approved the Livermore Acres subdivision, the district needs to provide water and sewer.
"I would like to research all of those things," she said.
Indelicato said she will suggest a couple of possible options to solve the lack of sewage disposal capacity, but she didn't want to state them with the media present.
Indelicato and Locke agreed that condemning someone's land to solve the sewage capacity problem is inappropriate, while Irons said she couldn't answer the question.
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