In 2003, Idyllwild Arts Foundation revised its Master Plan for the school to include new additions, such as a dining hall and a dormitory, among other things. The revision required OKs from county and more local agencies, such as the fire department.

Any contractor who has dealt with the county on building issues (Eric Townsend, are you there?) recognizes the insanity and outrageous costs involved with simply getting paperwork filed, no less approval after numerous revisions and coughing up  more $$.

No different than IAF with its gi-normous, as my grandson would say, new and complex buildings. Only a contractor/designer/building owner knows the tremendous head- and heart-aches involved.

Imagine getting through all the hassles at the county only to face the unbelievable:  a local fire department refusing to sign off on the final plan until you agree to buy it a $500,000 fire truck.

Numerous meetings of IAF’s negotiations to get Idyllwild Fire to back off failed. IFPD insisted it needed the ladder truck for the two-story buildings at Idyllwild Arts. Did it demand money of The Fort owner or any other multiple-story building owners in Idyllwild? No. Just IAF.

Months of this until Jim Venable, then-county supervisor, stepped in with our taxpayer dollars to fund the truck, despite claims of its size preventing balance on most local hillsides.

Back then, I called the whole issue “boys with toys.” I was right. We know of only a handful of fires that truck has been able to handle. Mostly it is used, as Nancy Layton said, as “an expensive flagpole” or, as we see, as a great fun ride to lunch/dinner at local restaurants.

It was a dumb mistake 12 years ago. Hey, but dumb mistakes are IFPD tradition.

Becky Clark, Editor