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Holtville residents lined up in front of the United Methodist Church on Dec. 19 to receive donated food items from church volunteers. | JULIO MORALES FILE PHOTO

City Manager Explains ‘Inaccuracies,’ ‘Misconceptions’ on Methodist Issue

HOLTVILLE — In recent weeks, the concept of a “welcome center” for migrants has been discussed in local newspapers, on various social media platforms, and in public comments at a Holtville City Council meeting.

The proposed center, which would repurpose the United Methodist Church property located at 217 W. Seventh St. in Holtville, is currently vacant after its local congregation was recently expelled.

Since the issue arose, several inaccuracies and misconceptions have circulated with regard to how the city is dealing with the issue. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify the city’s position in this matter.

The city of Holtville treats all proposed endeavors that come to our town similarly. The process usually involves the submission of a proposal document to be evaluated, reviewed by staff, and, when appropriate, considered by the Planning Commission and/or City Council.

New business ventures, housing projects, establishment of new churches, and even repurposing of existing church properties all follow this procedure. Should a proposal be submitted for (South District Union of the California Pacific Annual Conference’s) proposed use, the applicable process would be followed accordingly. Every application is considered on its own merits.

First and foremost, the city of Holtville is not currently in receipt of, processing or otherwise evaluating any formal proposal from the owner of the property, the South District Union of the California Pacific Annual Conference (SDUCPAC), nor any entity regarding the use of the aforementioned property. No such document has been submitted. The organization’s contention that they are “working with” the city, its Planning Department, or staff has been an exaggeration of the facts.

Nick Wells is Longest-serving Holtville City Manager
City Manager Nick Wells, a Holtville native, in September became the city’s longest-serving city manager. | JULIO MORALES FILE PHOTO

Until today (Friday, July 23), approximately three phone conversations wherein SDUCPAC officials made broad inquiries regarding allowable uses of the property and potential support from the city were the sum total of the interaction between the entities.

Moreover, in those conversations, based upon citizen feedback, neighborhood concerns, and inadequacy of the physical facility, staff has expressed deep reservations for some potential facets of the property’s speculated, repurposed use and its implications. From the outset, city staff informed church officials that the city itself would NOT be interested in partnering in any such endeavor.

On Friday, July 23, 2021, the Mayor and City Manager had their first in-person meeting with Rev. Paige Eaves of SDUCPAC. The meeting served as an introduction and the city was given its first opportunity to inquire as to their specific intentions, discuss how the city’s process works, and request a formal submission that can be evaluated. The process of evaluating the submission will begin immediately upon receipt.

Should residents wish to comment on the issue, please feel free to contact the city using one of these methods of communication:

US Mail: Holtville City Hall, 121 W. Fifth St., Holtville, CA 92250

Email: Mail@Holtville.ca.gov

The public is also always welcome and encouraged to attend City Council meetings. Time is set aside at each of these meetings to allow for public comment. The next Holtville City Councill meeting will be held on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in the Civic Center at Holtville City Hall.

Nick Wells is Holtville’s city manager.

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