Sunday, July 21, 2024

Fort Bragg’s Officials ‘Take the Development of Our Youth Seriously’—Letter to the Editor


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A mural in Fort Bragg [Picture by Judy Valadao]

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to statements made that perhaps the city, the police department, nor the City Council prioritize in any way our youth. I would like to make a few things very clear. This council, the city, and our police department take the development of our youth, their involvement in our community, their safety, and their success seriously.

Some of the initiatives the City has undertaken in recent years to prioritize youths; include allocating the Transient Occupancy Taxes- Measure AA/AB funds, approved in 2016. A total of $140,000 has been allocated to the Fort Bragg Unified School District over the years to improve the school’s fields which are utilized by the community and the schools for several sports, including soccer. We have purchased a tractor to help facilitate maintenance of the fields, an aerator attachment for the tractor, and funded the rebuild of its water system at Dana Gray, allowing them to properly irrigate the fields. Most recently, the City allocated funds to help refurbish the dilapidated four tennis courts at the middle School. The refurbishing included converting tennis courts into eight Pickleball courts and restoring two tennis courts. The public is allowed to use these courts after School and on weekends or any time school is not in session. The remainder of the time, the schools and the students get to take advantage of these new courts.

For the soccer fields at Bainbridge Park conversation, which began at a council meeting where community members requested that in our grant application process, we change the proposed use of that area to an all-weather soccer field (this is also a water-saving project). This was met by unanimous support from the full council. In 2021, the City applied for California State Parks Program Grant (SPP Prop 68) to enhance Bainbridge Parks benefiting the community and our youths. Improvements to Bainbridge park have been a priority for the City Council for many years, as defined in the Bainbridge Master Plan . Unfortunately, the City was unsuccessful in being awarded the Grant funds but scored very high compared to other applications. Subsequently, the City secured some funding of $177,952 from the Department of Parks & Recreation. Understanding how important the soccer fields would be to our community we proposed a new source of funding to be combined with the grant funds, including funds from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, the General Fund, and Facilities and Maintenance Funds. Much to our disappointment, the bids for the soccer field came in $500,000- $800,000, 2 to 3 times more than the budgeted funds of $250,000. We then made the hard decision to postpone the soccer fields again and allocate the grants received toward replacing all the playground equipment.

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The SPP Prop, 68 funding of $2,241,000, was finally awarded in July 2023, and the City Council has directed Staff to put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) from qualified firms to rehab and build various new amenities at Bainbridge Park. This includes the construction of two artificial surface soccer fields with lights, a complete renovation of the playground with new equipment, a multi-use pavilion, Camera systems, and Public Art and landscape throughout the park. The entire project is bundled into one RFP to save time and money. The soccer fields will be built, and the youth and the community will benefit tremendously.

Moreover, the Police department holds a strong commitment to our youths as well. Over the last several years, the Chief and his department have committed over $123,000 to our youths in the form of sponsorships. One project that I personally hold dear to my heart is the opioid grant the department received. Under the Chief’s direction, these funds were used to build a program to help our community. The program is referred to as “Project Right Now”, More specifically, the age groups between 12-24. The department has collaborated with the judicial system, including Judges, the DA office, probation, and the public defender’s office. This program allows our CRU team and success coaches, all of which work out of the police department, to work closely with our youth that have addictions and are going through the courts due to crimes committed. All the departments mentioned above have agreed to allow our team to take part. The team will reach out to our youth while in juvenile hall or jail and help them navigate the struggles of addiction and rehab. More than one with court approval, have been picked up from detention and taken straight to detox and or rehab. The police department is currently in the process of certification with BSA t start a Police Explorer program for youths ages 14-21 and Boy Scouts, which now includes all genders. Project right now also goes to the schools teaching about drug addiction and offering alternatives to a better lifestyle.

Finally, numerous City employees including police officers volunteer their time to coach youth soccer, little league, football, and other youth sports. As I’ve mentioned above, the City Council, the Police Department, and the entire City Government are committed to the safety of and improving the lives of our youths and the community.

It has been my experience that anytime government is part of the process, the obstacles and red tape are high and frequent. The process of getting work done at a governmental level can be confusing and frustrating. Whenever anyone finds themselves not understanding the process, please do not hesitate to reach out to your government. We work for you.

Mayor Bernie Norvell

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  1. The always wordy Mr. Norvell uses almost 1,000 words to tell us what? Not clear other than the city got some grant money and employees of the city and police department are decent people, something we already knew. But he leaves unaddressed the deterioration of life for young people trapped in a city that offers them no economic future.


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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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