CALEXICO — With financial resources scarce, Calexico must find $175,000 to finish installing grant-funded sports lighting for Joel Reisen Park after the first attempt ended in vain in October.
Volunteer crews from the
Imperial Irrigation District began to dig the first of seven 14-foot holes for
the lights when they struck water just several feet down, Calexico City Manager
David Dale said Nov. 21.
That forced the dig to
stop until city officials could consult outside help to figure out how to
Located at Sapphire
Street and Andrade Avenue, Joel Reisen Park is a repurposed 3.5-acre retention
basin for the adjacent Victoria Villas subdivision. It has been used for
baseball and softball but lack of lights limits use time.
members, including city Council Member Morris Reisen, who is the son of the
park’s namesake, have been fighting for lights for at least a decade.
With the seven light
poles sitting uninstalled for months, Reisen vowed Nov. 21 that “One way or
another, we’re going to find that money.”
However, Dale added, “We’re
stymied at the moment” on how to pay for it.
The lighting, labor and
even the volunteer electricians to power up the poles once they are erected,
have all been coordinated or donated through IID board President Erik Ortega,
whose Division 4 district includes Calexico.
“I’m following through until we get this
done,” Ortega said of the lighting issue.
One of the engineering firms
consulted on the matter said with the water table so near the surface
installation will cost about $25,000 per pole because it’s a “complex process,”
Various city commissions will
be asked to re-allocate funds from other projects and, as such, the project has
no time line, Dale added.
Bid for Measure H dollars
Reisen said he intends to
soon contact the city’s Measure H Committee to get on its monthly agenda to
lobby for funding.
“I feel the city of
Calexico should put their part in now. Everything else has been freebies. I
feel like the city should intervene and do something,” Reisen said.
Measure H is a half-cent
sales tax measure approved by city voters in June 2010 in part to fund public
safety and parks and recreation. As part of the measure, an oversight committee
was established to make certain the money was being spent responsibly.
“I think we have a good
shot to get it,” Reisen said.
Ortega helped the city
secure the funding to purchase the lights shortly after his election to the IID
board in 2016. In 2017, he approached the city and encouraged the council to
apply for a Local Entity grant funded by the San Diego County Water Authority.
The monies are part of the authority’s mitigation payments to the IID to
address potential farm-job losses due to the 2003 water-transfer agreement.
Calexico was awarded
$150,000 to design and purchase its own sports lighting. Dale said it took some
time to design the lights and for the lights and poles to be built.
Ortega said he was able
to corral the volunteer labor for installation from IID work crews and
coordinate with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569 San
Diego and Imperial counties to donate some of its local union electricians to
wire the lighting once it was installed.
Reisen said the park was
named after his father, Joel Reisen, about 15 years ago and recalled informing
him of that.
“I went up to the old man — he was nearly
100 years old — and I told him, ‘We got the field named for you,’” he said.
Reisen said his
father, who was a Calexico pioneer and owner of the Tienda Del Army Surplus
Store its downtown, “gave a lot to the community.”