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New River Improvement Assembly Member Garcia
Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella | COURTESY PHOTO

Assembly Member Garcia Seeking Quicker Funds For New River

CALEXICO — Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia said he is seeking to more quickly secure the final piece of funding for the Calexico New River Improvement Project through a $15 million to $20 million budget request.

While originally stating the money likely would not be available until sometime in 2021, Garcia is now stating publicly that through the budget allocation process the funding could become available to Calexico sometime in 2020.

Garcia’s office was contacted to provide more information on the sped-up timeline but did not provide any further detail. But the statement did mention a two-pronged approach to getting the funding.

“We will be pursuing two tracks to obtain funding for the New River Improvement Parkway, including a $15 million state budget request in January, as well as ensuring that the same amount is allocated in the climate infrastructure bond proposal we initiated last legislative session, which, if successful, could go before voters for approval in the November 2020 election,” Garcia stated Dec. 3 through his communications office.

A legislative staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity indicated a state budget request could result in money allocations within the 2020-2021 state budget cycle.

Through the bond process, the staffer indicated the bond measure would require legislative approval before appearing on the ballot Nov. 3, 2020.

Meanwhile, Assistant Calexico City Manager Miguel Figueroa has said the city needs between $15 million and $25 million for the final phase of construction of the New River project.

The currently unfunded portion includes a trash-screen where the river crosses the border with Mexico, improvements to Calexico’s wastewater-treatment system to partially clean the New River water, and undergrounding the part of the river that flows through the city.

The city has the first $10 million set aside for those improvements, which it received through the state 2018 Parks and Water Bond Act.

“We welcome the latest efforts by Mr. Garcia to secure the additional funding we need to complete the infrastructure projects identified by the New River Strategic Plan for Calexico,” Figueroa has said.

The Assembly member would likely have more details available once the legislative session resumes in January, said Aurora Saldivar, Garcia’s communications director.

Contacted Dec. 3, Figueroa did not immediately respond for a request for comment on the possibility of receiving the final funding sooner. However, in a recent email Figueroa acknowledged he was trying to find out more about Garcia’s new timeline. The river improvement project also includes improved parkland along the river, some of which has already been funded and completed.

This story is featured in the Dec 05, 2019 e-Edition.

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