Extract from Village Life January 7 - 13, 2004
Published by Life Newspapers LLC, a member of the McNaughton newspaper family.


Grassroots organization becomes non-profit

By Janna Marlies Santoro, Staff writer

Often times, it takes a significant event or occurrence to bring a community together. In the case of a group of homeowners in the eastern part of El Dorado Hills, along Bass Lake Road, it took a common goal.

A core group of residents, most of who live in the Woodridge development, got together and formed the Bass Lake Action Committee (BLAC), which recently incorporated and became an official non-profit organization.

Their common goal: Informing the community on issues that directly affect them.

Stimulation for BLAC began last summer when El Dorado County plans for the Bass Lake Regional Park came to life, leaving nearby homeowners feeling left out of the loop.

"Many people were caught unaware with lights, a 350-car parking lot, sports facilities," said Kathy Prevost, BLAC's president.

Prevost and the other BLAC board members said homeowners felt misinformed when plans for the park became public. Residents were under the impression that the park would be a natural and passive park, blending in with the surrounding community.

In addition, residents of the area felt the county did not provide "due diligence" in publicizing town hall meetings for community input, said David Glazier, a BLAC member.

It was after two county meetings that Prevost and Peggy Glazier drafted a letter expressing their concerns to EDC Supervisor Rusty Dupray (Dist. 1). The two women went around their neighborhood and gathered 70 plus signatures for the letter. In it, they explained their concerns, which included increased traffic and safety on Bass Lake Road, along with the fact that there were no apparent plans to address that or other issues.

After receiving the letter, Dupray met with some of the Bass Lake Area homeowners.

"He told us to get more organized," said Prevost.

So they did. The key event that solidified their efforts was a public meeting organized in June. The group mailed out some 800 postcards announcing the meeting ' and between 200 and 300 community members turned out.

It was this meeting that validated BLAC's efforts, said Fran Thomson, secretary of the committee.

"We were confident that we were representing not just small groups of homeowners," she said about the meeting's turnout.

The success of the meeting led to the creating of an e-mail listing and defining what BLAC will accomplish, said John Thomson, BLAC vice president.

Since that June meeting, BLAC has kept up its efforts to inform the community about anything having to do with Bass Lake Regional Park. They have grown from an original steering committee of about 20 members to a serious interest group of nearly 300 people.

BLAC also maintains a Web site (basslakeaction.org) and publishes a monthly newsletter, "The Bass Lake Bulletin." At the moment, they're waiting for the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIT) on the park, which is due out sometime this month.

The concept of BLAC operating as a service organization that provides information and a voice for the area it represents led to its becoming a non-profit corporation. BLAC is now classified as a 501(C)(4) corporation, which covers organizations with the purpose of lobbying legislative bodies.

"It helps us keep our affairs in order," said John Thomson, explaining some of the reasoning behind the official organization.

As a non-profit, BLAC can accept contributions from those who wish to donate. And the non-profit status allows for accountability, said Fran Thomson.

As a non-profit, the group has a five-member board of directors: Kathy Prevost, president; John Thomson, vice president; Fran Thomson, secretary; Peggy Glazier, treasurer; and Vince Mamone, director at large.

"(Non-profit status) gives recognition to the group" both with the community they represent and with the county officials, said Glazier.

The group will have a lot on its plate. Issues it plans to address include the Bass Lake Regional park, which will be developed in stages; the county's general plan, the possible city-hood of El Dorado Hills, and the development along Highway 50.

E-mail Janna at jsantoro@villagelife.com.


Extracted/transcribed by Bass Lake Action Committee