It’s very possible that the approximate $8 million dollars spent by the City of Santa Clarita over the past eight years in an effort to fight the installation of a massive gravel mine in Soledad Canyon may have been money well-spent given the recent truce declared between the City of Santa Clarita and Cemex, a gravel mining giant. Only time will tell.
“We’ve come to a meeting of the minds and come up with a solution that is equitable,” announced Mayor Marsha McLean at the February news conference at City Hall where both Cemex and city officials sat side-by-side after the years-long public battle.
City Councilperson Bob Kellar, and member of the Cemex subcommittee member for the City, announced the signing of a four-point agreement with Cemex, calling it more than a breath of fresh air.
“It’s a new beginning,” said Kellar.
The one-year agreement freezes the advancement of all pending processes and permit applications related to the project, a mutual cease-fire in the media and the promise by both parties to use their resources to come up with mutually acceptable solutions in 2007, which may include federal legislation.
When City Councilperson, Laurene Weste, a sub-committee member for the City’s Cemex efforts, took to the podium at the news conference she referred to the millions of hours already spent by both sides on the proposed project saying, “Make no mistakes, we will continue to protect the community. This issue isn’t over yet. It is at a critical juncture and we resolve to come up with a solution that will mutually benefit all involved.”
“We’ve called a ‘time-out’ and will now have discussions in a civil atmosphere. Both parties have been trying to protect their interests. It is time to come together,” said Cemex Executive Vice President, Rick Shapiro. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein both expressed their support of the truce.
“Let me congratulate Cemex and the City of Santa Clarita for agreeing to work together to find a solution on the Soledad Canyon mining project. It is clear to me that the problem is a serious one. At the highest projected levels, mining would result in over one thousand truck trips per day and would disrupt the community. It is my hope that an agreement can be reached that will satisfy both Cemex and the City,” said Feinstein.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior could put together an alternate plan for Cemex to mine another property should the mining company dispense with the Soledad Canyon project. When reflecting back, Gail Ortiz, City of Santa Clarita Communications Director said, “The City feels strongly that spending the money over the last 8 years shows how very dedicated the City is to preventing mining at this level from occurring in this area. The Council is unanimous in their thoughts and actions regarding this issue. We believe that the efforts and expenditures of the City had an impact on bringing Cemex to the table.”
Plans to annex 1,885 acres of city-owned land in Soledad Canyon will move forward, but will exclude the proposed mine site for now.
In the meantime, the temporary truce will continue the rest of 2007 and longer, if need be and plans will pick up where they left off for both parties if no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.
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