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Nestle Waters Seeking New Negotiation With McCloud; Town Says “Not So Fast”

Nestle’s proposed water bottling plant in McCloud has been the subject of two recent meetings of the McCloud Services District (MCSD), and while the outcome remains unclear, what is apparent is McCloud’s ardor for a Nestle water bottling plant has cooled.

Little wonder; after five years of Nestle’s fractious, town-dividing interference in local politics, the residents are simply suffering from Nestle Fatigue. At the most recent McCloud Services District meeting, the directors spoke of proceeding cautiously (if at all), and prevaling public opinion was to take a long breather, or dump Nestle entirely.

In fact, the only real decisive action was to ask to speak to someone higher up the Nestle food chain, Nestle operative Dave Palais apparently having worn out his welcome. Witness this from Charlie Unkefer of the Mount Shasta Herald:

After almost three hours of board discussion, a review of communications – letters submitted to the board prior to the meeting, expressing a myriad of opinions – and public comment, the board passed a motion 5-0 to “address the issues with higher level Nestle executives.”

Though the issue listed on the meeting agenda cited “discussion/action regarding a request… to enter into new contract negotiations,” the motion passed focused only on continued dialogue, with  a tone of caution prevailing.

Director Tim Dickinson, who first brought the issue to the table in his opening comments on the project, noted,  “What I need is a conversation with the executive level of Nestle to find out what direction they are going in… I would hate to go six months or one or two  years and then have the contract dropped. My idea is to have that contact and have discussion.”

Farther down the story, the idea of a “community survey” reared its head, though director Schoenstein should be commended for resisting Nestle’s pressure negotiating tactics (that have worked so well in other rural towns):

Schoenstein also expressed his interest in conducting a thorough survey of the community’s desires around the issue. “We need to know where the public stands,” he stated, emphasizing that this information would better inform the board as they continue their discussions with Nestle.  However, Schoenstein remained cautious. “There is no need to hurry or fear that if we don’t (re-negotiate now) that Nestle will leave.”

Clearly, Nestle’s attempts to speed back into negotiations for a water bottling plant aren’t working. Moreover, the whole McCloud fiasco has cost them bitterly in terms of time, bad press, and yes – money. In the past, I’ve commented on Nestle’s unwillingness to alter their business template to meet the needs of small rural communities. That seems true in the current situation; they’re not offering the town any incentive to enter into negotiations, and to their credit several of the MCSD Board of Directors seem to recognize it.