The owner of Temecula Valley RV in Murrieta, Calif., recently asked the city to reaffirm its commitment to extending Jackson Avenue and finding the money to start work on the long-on-the-drawing-board project.
Erik Kitley moved his business, which includes sales, servicing and storage of RVs, from Temecula in 2005, in part because he was told by Murrieta officials that Jackson would be widened and extended so that it connects with Ynez Road in Temecula to the south, the North County Times, Escondido, reported.
He was told the project would take “a couple of years.”
Seven years later, the road in front of his business is a two-lane, unmarked black ribbon pitted with cracks.
“They’re thinking they’re going to nowhere,” he said about customers who venture south from Murrieta Hot Springs Road to his $7 million facility.
There is about a 1,300-foot gap of creek bed between the end of the paved portion of Jackson and the edge of Ynez to the south. The two cities have long said it was a priority to extend the road, which would require building some type of bridge across the creek.
About five years ago, Temecula suggested installing a “dip crossing” similar to the crossing at Via Montezuma in that city, but Murrieta leaders preferred to move forward with a permanent bridge.
Speaking at a recent Murrieta City Council meeting during public comments, Kitley said he was becoming “disenchanted” with Murrieta’s commitment to the project and he said that it seems as if the project is no longer the city’s No. 1 priority.
The appearance served to “rattle cages,” he said, and he was contacted the next day by city officials. But he said he’s after more than shaking things up.
“Who cares how many cages you rattle? I want to see action,” he said.
During an interview in front of his business, Kitley said he’s especially frustrated because he believes the city missed a chance to lock in funding for the project before the state’s 400 redevelopment agencies, including Murrieta’s agency, were dissolved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature earlier this year.
“Murrieta failed to be decisive in a timely fashion, and they lost the ability to use the RDA funds,” he said.
According to his calculations, the price for the project has fallen lately to around $7 million, with Murrieta’s share amounting to around $3 million.
“They can’t find $3 million?” he asked.
In a phone interview, Murrieta Mayor Doug McAllister said the Jackson extension is a very high priority for the city, a connection that will benefit Murrieta and the entire region.
McAllister said the initial plan was to use RDA money to bankroll the project, but in the aftermath of the state’s actions, the city is looking for alternative sources of funding.
“We haven’t found the answer yet, but we’re not giving up,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll figure something out.”
Temecula Deputy City Manager Grant Yates said officials from both cities have met to discuss how they can work together to extend the road, a discussion that has included talk of a financial contribution by Temecula toward the project.
“It’s a very important connection between both communities,” he said. “Bottom line, we’re very hopeful they can come up with the funds on their end to make that connection work.”