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City Signs Industrial Park Leases
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A day before the Army yielded control of its ammunition plant to the City of Riverbank, the Local Redevelopment Authority held a special meeting on March 30 to authorize adoption of a budget and allow the city manager to execute leases with the private companies that currently occupy part of the site and are expected to stay on and form the nucleus of a future industrial park.

The city entered into leases to continue occupying space at the plant with Dayton Superior, Donaldson Company, Kiva Energy/Kamps Propane, Environmental & Lubrication Solutions, Sierra Northern Railway, T-Mobile West Corporation, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Technologies, Riverbank Oil, ECO2 Plastics and Leisure RV.

In an unusual move to ensure all Authority members were present, the city arranged a telephone conference call to member Dave White so that he could participate in decisions and vote by telephone while he was vacationing in Palm Springs.

The Authority approved a resolution authorizing City Manager Rich Holmer to execute documents for the leases but balked at adopting an incomplete budget.

Citizen Scott McRitchie came to the podium to say he had a problem with the Authority taking action when the budget on the plant was not complete. He was not opposed to executing leases with the Army and the plant's tenants, but felt the budget should be finalized ahead of other actions.

"You know the figures for the lease agreements, I'm sure. Why are they not in a budget?" he asked. "I'm not opposed to going ahead with leases but doing the budget later is not good business. It undermines your credibility."

Would Councilmember Dan Fielder take on another golf course without knowing its budget and cash flow, he asked in a rhetorical question. Fielder manages several golf courses.

"If it turns out less than we expect we could have another Del Rio," said McRitchie.

The city spent several million in redevelopment funds to buy the Del Rio building at Atchison and Third streets for conversion to a performing arts center. But an engineering study after its purchase showed it needed extensive and expensive renovation before it could be occupied. The building has been closed and unused ever since.

Other Authority members agreed with McRitchie.

"This is one of the most important undertakings the city has ever made," said Mayor Virginia Madueno. "From a business point of view we must be fiscally prudent. We need to assure we safeguard public monies. We must take the proper measures."

The matter of adopting a budget, therefore, was continued until the next Authority meeting scheduled for April 12, although Director of Development and Housing Tim Ogden pointed out Holmer was authorized during a closed-door session of the special meeting to go ahead with arranging leases.

"We're still putting the finishing touches on the budget with the Army," Ogden said later. "They will coexist with us for six months or so before they leave. So we want some financial compensation from them for this use. The Office of Economic Adjustment will put up the rest. We know the total but we don't yet know how it will be divided between them."