No action was taken at the July 16 Riverside County Planning Department hearing on proposed revisions to the Idyllwild Arts Master Plan, according to Idyllwild Water District Board President Allan Morphett, who attended and spoke at the hearing.
“The project was continued to August 20 … No decision yet,” said Matt Straite of the Riverside County Planning staff. “Frank Coyle, sitting in for the Director of Planning, Carolyn Syms Luna, wanted to see a water availability study that had not yet been finished. This study was being commissioned by the school [Idyllwild Arts] to the IWD. We have yet to receive a copy.”
Further review of the proposal was rescheduled for Aug. 20, he added.
Prior to the Planning meeting, former Idyllwild Arts President Brian Cohen wrote the district and offered to provide $150,000 for the construction of a 300,000 gallon storage tank to help supply the school and the district’s Tollgate Zone customers.
“Idyllwild Arts water system must meet Idyllwild Fire Prevention District requirements for fire suppression capability. … The existing storage tank capacity, in combination with the existing 3 [inch] meter capacity, does not meet this requirement,” Cohen wrote on July 12.
Consequently, Cohen made the following offer, “To assist in [construction of 300,000 gallon or larger storage tank in the Tollgate Pressure Zone], IAF will advance to IWD the sum $150,000 in water facilities connection fees.”
The funding would be provided before Dec. 31, 2012, and IA expects the tank to be purchased and installed within one year, which Lyons said is feasible if no unexpected problems arise.
“We’ve been trying to work with the water district to make things possible,” said Darren Schilling, director of communications for the school. “We offered the $150,000 for the tank and larger meter and are working with a water engineer, Robert Krieger [of Kreiger and Stewart] who’s helping with the studies.
“We’re doing everything we can. The new buildings will conserve more water and eventually the water usage on campus will be down,” Schilling added. “This benefits the community for all to be involved.”
The two organizations expect to develop a memorandum of understanding to confirm their agreement and commitments.
Morphett stressed that the water district continues to feel that its requests for information about future water needs at the school have not been answered adequately.
With respect to the specific request for a will-serve letter for the two residences and new health center next for the school’s construction program, Morphett said a will-serve letter will not be issued without the tank being operational.
The county planning process, rather than helping bring parties together on a common solution, has created some irritation. Director Warren Monroe noted that the hearing had originally been scheduled in Palm Desert without any notification to the district.
Several residents concerned about the plan’s effect on the district attended the hearing and the district’s monthly meeting.
“The county was telling the district they had to issue the will-serve letter for the entire project. That’s absurd,” said Sue Nash of Idyllwild. “I hope they will have listened to Terry’s [Lyons, IWD general manager] draft letter and all the things you need to issue a will-serve will be in a future document.”