Specifics of a grant project for the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District are progressing and a final proposal could be available in the coming weeks. However, a decision must be made soon because the deadline to secure funding is approaching.
The Tracy Lake project, a proposal from area growers to fill a temporary lake with water and draw from it throughout the year, was discussed by directors for the district on Monday evening.
The district was awarded a $300,000 grant for the project in June and is determining if it will accept the money. It has until the end of September to finalize engineering documents, environmental reports and funding specifics for the project. To help support the project, the board is considering creating an improvement district, which would require the beneficiaries of the project to foot the cost. If successful, it could secure operations for the district, which has struggled to obtain funding in recent years, supporters say.
“If you can do this, it forms a financing model,” said Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney for Herum Crabtree, a law firm representing the landowners supporting the project. “If this falls apart, it’s very bad.”
To move the project forward, the board voted 3-1 to waive its standard bidding process for engineering and California Environmental Quality Act work.
“Since the Franzias are paying for the bids themselves, it doesn’t need to be opened up to bid,” said Director Joe Petersen.
If the district accepts the project, construction firms will be able to place written bids.
Directors Petersen, Mark Beck and Hugh Scanlon approved the motion. Chairman Bryan Pilkington voted against the motion and Director Marden Wilbur was absent from Monday’s meeting due to a prior commitment.
Beck and Scanlon sit on a steering committee for the project and will continue to meet with the players of the deal in the coming days. They will report to the board in mid-September.
The district’s next meeting will take place Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. at a location to be determined.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at email@example.com.