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Tuesday, Aug 19 2014 01:10 PM

Mountain Meadows making drainage, road improvements

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Richard Williford, general manager of Mountain Meadows CSD, explains some of the improvements being made to district roads and drainage systems. Much of the improvements comes from private donations that would otherwise far exceed the district’s meager budget.

Mountain Meadows Community Services District completed development of more than $180,000 in projects as part of a disaster mitigation project.

According to Richard Williford, general manager of the CSD, said that portions of the district's main drag, Summit Road, will receive a fresh paving job and some drainage improvements at its south end.

The funding for the project comes from a private source, whom Williford said wished to remain anonymous for now.

Williford said that the improvements, including a water catch basin at the south end of Summit Road, will help with some mitigation efforts should a heavy rain come.

"We had extensive flooding come out of Wyman Ranch because of the steepness in those canyons," Williford said. "All that water comes down Summit and we've done our best to control it, but some times in the past it went off down into the city of Tehachapi and caused havoc there."

Williford said the project was approved by a previous Mountain Meadows board, but the district lacked implementation funding.

Part of the project includes clearing out carry pipes for floodwaters, which had been overrun and blocked with mud and debris in a previous flood.

"Summit Road is the most dangerous road to our community because of the steepness and the straight line," Williford said. Water that comes from canyons in Wyman Ranch channel down into Summit, where it can't properly drain because some of the district's drainage outlets remain clogged.

Water could theoretically funnel down onto South Curry Street into the city and impact places like Kern County Fire Station 12 and Tompkins Elementary School, he said.

The catch basin that will be placed on the southwest side of Summit will properly channel water away from Summit and into drainage outlets, which will be cleared.

"This sump should give us some control," Williford said.

In addition to the new improvements on Summit Road, Mountain Meadows also oiled Cheyenne Avenue and Apache Street, two of its graded gravel streets.

At a little more than $180,000 for both the road improvements and catch basin, the investment is more than what the district pulled in from its property assessments for the year.

"We're doing all we can and then some with what we have," Williford said. He said that the assessments came in at just a little over $100,000 -- $20,000 shy of what is needed to run the district.

He attributed the shortfall to a 30 percent delinquency rate in Mountain Meadows property owners paying their $200 assessment bills.

When it comes to securing grants or other types of funding from the county, state or federal government, Mountain Meadows is low on the list, especially when the district lacks cash to provide for local matches, Williford said.

He added that funding from private sources is an option, but the only thing the local agency can offer is to act as a tax write-off for contributions received.

Williford said private funding for the current improvements will benefit Mountain Meadows to a point.

"This money brings us advancement of the district and allows us some improvement and room to work other places," Williford said.

State emergency grant

In addition to the funding for the district's new improvements, Mountain Meadows has qualified for a set of grants from the California Office of Emergency Services -- should a calamity occur.

Those grants include a $100,000 disaster mitigation roads grant and $200,000 for drainage.

Williford said that money would come if the area and California as a whole were hit with a lot of rain, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would funnel money through the state to the affected areas.

"We would hope that the funding would come through and that we would be able to make the repairs before a disaster," Williford said.

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