By Mansfield Collins
Today was a milestone for the City of Walnut and UWT in our fight to save one of our cities last remaining hillsides, Grand and Amar/Temple, the gateway to Walnut. My family and I have lived in Walnut 29 years. Like most of you, we see this hillside everyday and appreciate its natural beauty and the unique open space natural habitat character it gives to Walnut. It is a relaxing sight to view as we drive southbound on Grand from the 10 freeway into Walnut. It has been undisturbed since 1948. Neighbors tell us about Roadrunners, bobcats, hawks and other rare species that can be found there. Now, Mt Sac CEO Scroggins wants to bulldoze it and place hundreds of solar panels in plain view for all of Walnut to gasp at. Well today, 50 plus residents participated in a protest rally at the solar site to tell Scroggins to relocate the solar farm on campus to carports and rooflops.
The press appeared. Attached are some excerpts.
About 35 residents protested a hillside solar farm proposed by Mount San Antonio College by marching onto campus on Monday and demanding the college president’s resignation.
“We have brought the community to you because you have failed to come to the community,” said Layla Abou-Taleb, leader of United Walnut Taxpayers during an extraordinary confrontation with President William Scroggins just outside his office. “It is time for you to step down.”
The crowd stayed for about 20 minutes, shouting “Scroggins must go!” and demanding the college reverse its position on building the solar project, which the residents say will lower property values, cause glare and destroy a natural hillside habitat.
After distributing 50 letters to residents of Snow Creek on Stonybrook Drive, Regal Canyon Drive and Buckskin Drive on Friday, saying grading of the natural hills would begin Monday, the college reversed itself and indicated it had placed the project on hold. Since the city of Walnut and UWT had taken the college to court over this project and a proposed five-story parking structure (which the court placed on hold last year), the college said it wanted to wait until after the results of a court-ordered mediation session beginning Nov. 17.
“The work on the solar project is on hold pending the mediation,” Scroggins told the angry crowd who gathered inside the plaza at Founders Hall, the administration building. When told some earth-moving equipment would be moved onto the east side of campus by next week, residents and members of UWT called it a trick and said they wanted zero work done until the judge decides the case.
During the tense confrontation, Scroggins was asked by a member of the group if he would be willing to reconsider the location of the solar farm, something residents say should be put atop campus buildings and on carport structures. After first saying it was not up to him but to the college board of trustees, he said: “No direction has been given by the board or by me,” promising that the college is going into mediation with an open mind.
Before the march, about 50 protesters stood beneath the site on Grand Avenue waving placards and shouting slogans. They were joined by City Manager Rob Wishner, as well as council members Mary Su, Eric Ching and Andrew Rodriguez.
Wishner said a city stop work order, along with assurances from the captain of the Walnut Sheriff’s Station of enforcement, had an effect. The city contends the college must pull permits for the project, but the college says it is exempt.
“I am hopeful we can put this dispute to bed,” he said.
Wishner said he understands the residents concerns about Mt. SAC growing, with 60,000 students, adding to noise, traffic and environmental degradation to the small city. “Now with about 60,000 students, it is beginning to have a quality of life impact on the community,” he said.
He chastised the college for not doing a better job working with residents and City Hall. What was usually a positive relationship has degraded these last two years, officials and residents said. Abou-Taleb puts the blame on the president, there for the past six years. “Scroggins always wants to have it his way,” she said.
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The relationship with Mt Sac has been bad ever since it hired Scroggins. We do not trust him. The Judge has ruled against him more than three times. Nevertheless, his actions are consistent with the mantra, “dam the torpedoes full speed ahead”. He just doesn’t care. He is responsible for an unprecedented period of bad relations with Walnut. His assault on Walnut is without conscience. He has a complete disdain for Walnut and community input. He is wasting our taxpayer dollars on legal fees instead of classrooms. This was avoidable had he tried to be reasonable. He is wasting taxpayer dollars on “solar farms” by as much $5 to $7 million dollars because our expert says that’s how much would be saved by putting solar on carports and rooftops. The solar farm looks like there is a hidden agenda why waste millions of taxpayer dollars! Follow the money. It is time for us to demand his resignation. We need CHANGE at Mt Sac. We need a true neighbor, a true partner working to create respect and balance for Mt Sac and Walnut. That will never happen as long as Scroggins remains as CEO. It is time. The time is now to demand his resignation. Otherwise, Scroggins will continue to poison relations with Walnut while continuing to destroy the quality of our life. One man should never think he has the power or authority to do whatever he wants and whenever he wants and to whoever he wants. If you agree, please email the Mt Sac Bd of Trustees and tell them that we are fed up and Scroggins must go!
Dr. Manuel Baca, Ms. Rosanne Bader, Ms. Laura Santos, Mr. Jay F. Chen, Dr. David Hall, Ms. Judy Chen Haggerty, Esq., Mr. Robert Hidalgo at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the trustees will not act, we need to push for term limits and elect some trustees who will seek a fair and reasonable balance with Walnut. Not one of the seven trustees lives in Walnut.
There were many new faces that participated in the rally today. More information about UWT can be found at this link. http://savewalnut.org/. United Walnut Taxpayers is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit Public Benefit Corporation formed to preserve and protect the quality of life in the City of Walnut. All donations are tax exempt. We raise money to defray the costs of our legal fees required to protect the quality of life in Walnut. To donate click on the donate tab or send your donations to;
United Walnut Taxpayers
P.O. Box 1665
Walnut, CA 91788
A group of neighbors got together initially to oppose a 5 story parking structure planned by Mt. SAC, to be built within 125 feet of their homes. We quickly realized that Mt. SAC had many more projects that could negatively impact the quality of life in the City in terms of traffic, safety, pollution, noise, and aesthetics. What started out as a neighborhood concern became a Citywide community concern, and United Walnut Taxpayers was formed. Please support us. We need your help. We are planning another event. Please attend city council meeting on Wednesday, October 26. Thank you for coming out today Walnut. We have only begun to fight!