Tag: Col. Kim Colloton

River advocates welcome Army Corps first female commander

Col. Kim Colloton emphasizes a point yesterday at the Los Angeles River Center. She is the first female commander to occupy the U.S. Army Corps top job in L.A. (Jim Burns)
Col. Kim Colloton emphasizes a point yesterday at the Los Angeles River Center. She is the first female commander to occupy the U.S. Army Corps top job in L.A. (Jim Burns)

In an unprecedented first, river advocates threw a party to  welcome the first U.S. Army Corps female district commander to Los Angeles.  Spanish guitars played as guests from a multi-pronged coalition of community groups, private enterprise and government officials sipped sangria  to welcome Col. Kim Colloton at the Los Angeles River Center plaza.

The river center is a stronghold of advocacy groups, which include Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco Foundation.  The audience and speakers included two Los Angeles city councilmembers, the mayor of Burbank, and representatives of local cities, the  state and the federal government.

“This has never been done before,” said Lewis MacAdams, founder of FOLAR, and, until recently, a longtime self-proclaimed “enemy” of the Corps. But MacAdams, along with others, increasingly see the Corps as part of the solution, not the problem.

“It’s going to get more challenging as the interest gets wider, as more and more people view the river as an asset  toward open space, and renewal, and improvement of the city,” Alejandro Ortiz, FOLAR chairman said. “You would wonder if the Corps of Engineers is the ideal partner. At first thought, you might think it’s not, but as it turns out the Army Corps of Engineers is the guiding light toward salvation. And salvation has a name. It’s Option 20.”

At stake is how much money the federal government is willing to put into implementing an ecosystem restoration that could possibly remake the Los Angeles River into a vital part of the city. Last week, the Los Angeles City Council made it officially known that it wanted to see the biggest package possible, that’s $1 billion (Alternative 20), which would be spent on the river from Glendale Narrows to downtown, an 11-mile area. There are three other “best buy” alternatives that will be spelled soon-to-be-released report, each with a lesser price tag.

“Just from my short month here in my new job, and by this synergy that I have felt and seen tonight, I can feel that we are united in a vision to protect, restore and maximize this river’s benefits for future generations,” Col. Colloton said to the crowd of around 200.

The crowd found out that the long-awaited ARBOR study, which names four possible paths to ecosystem restoration, will be available for public comment on Sept. 13. There will be an email box to make it easy for people to voice their opinions on the Corps’ website. How much money is spent must be voted on and approved by Congress.

See you on the river, Jim Burns


Quick Mends: O’Farrell takes river baton from Reyes

Newly elected Council-member Mitch O'Farrell. (Courtesy City Council District 13)
Newly elected Council-member Mitch O’Farrell. (Courtesy City Council District 13)

Even though termed-out river champion Ed Reyes’s district went to Gilbert Cedillo, the new self-proclaimed keeper of the flame is newly elected Council-member Mitch O’Farrell.  And front-and-center is the most important decision to impact the Los Angeles River since it was channelized last century.

“We have some alternatives that are being entertained right now by the Army Corps [of Engineers] and the Feds,” O’Farrell recently told The Los Angeles Downtown News, referencing Alternative 20, which is the most extensive and expensive of the revitalization plans. “We all support that, but it has a $1 billion price tag. There are some [alternatives] that are a lot less than that.”

Meanwhile, the Corps can’t officially comment on the details until the report containing the four alternatives (not three, as was widely reported in the Los Angeles Times last week) is released in early September, according to a spokesman. But sources close to the process say that Washington balked at the Alternative 20, billion-dollar price tag and will push for the cheapest of the alternatives. When released, the report will also identify the Corps tentatively selected plan (TSP).

“The TSP is ‘tentative’ and not a final agency decision,” said the new Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kim Colloton. “We will ask for public and agency comments on all alternatives, and consider all comments before we make a final decision. Transparency and community involvement are vitally important.”

In a press release, Colloton said the Corps, City of Los Angeles and stakeholders have jointly developed the alternatives, and the purpose of the collaborative effort has been to find ways to improve the L.A. River ecosystem in a constrained funding environment.

“Hundreds of ideas were explored, and the best of these were combined to come up with the final array of alternatives in the draft report,” she said.  “The ultimate goal is to maximize ecosystem benefits relative to costs.”

Once released,  the action will trigger a 45-day public comment period that will help inform a final report, which will include a recommendation to Congress.

See you on the river, Jim Burns