Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Concord Council to take up Naval Weapons Station plans

CONCORD — For the first time, city leaders will embark on choosing a land use plan for the shuttered Concord Naval Weapons Station, weighing in on the number and locations of parks, and the placement and quantity of development.

Instead of holding the City Council meeting in the smallish chamber at the Civic Center, leaders will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Concord Senior Center to accommodate expected a larger crowd.

Housing and environmental organizations have been watching the city's years-long effort to come up with new uses for the base's 5,028 inland acres. And finally on Monday, they will get to talk with the full City Council about what they want to see happen on the former military station. Members of the public are encouraged to attend, too. In fact, Councilman Guy Bjerke said, the more the merrier.

"I hope people will come and explain why they like one of the options, or what they'd like to see changed, and I'd like to see people be as specific as they can be," he said. "Whether it's a different (greenbelt) buffer or wanting to see more active park areas east of (Mt. Diablo Creek), we want to hear it."

The council will continue to discuss the plans at a Dec. 1 meeting, and the panel is expected to make a final decision Jan. 12. There are two plans on the table. The "clustered villages" proposal calls for 12,300 housing units and a population of 28,880, with 65 percent of the land designated as open space and parks. AdvertisementThe "conservation" plan contains more concentrated development, and more open space — 73 percent — than the other plan. However, that plan contains fewer "active" parks, land that is developed with park uses, versus open space. This proposal calls for 10,040 housing units and 21,260 jobs.

Both proposals preserve the hills and ridgelines, and they include hiking trails, a sports park and education facilities, plus a park in the central and eastern portions of the property. Both plans also put most development near the North Concord BART station.

The clustered villages proposal, however, features more roads connecting residents to parks. Also, retail and bus routes are closer to the rest of the city.

Amie Fishman, executive director of East Bay Housing Organizations, said she is happy with the general concepts, but she wants the city to put in writing some guarantees regarding housing for the work force, seniors and those with special needs.

"Frankly, there are families making less than $40,000 per year and they make up the work force," she said. "If they don't get housing, they'll be clogging up the roads and creating traffic jams, and this will not be a smart growth project after all."

Putting the guarantees in writing, she said, gives developers a sense of what their constraints and opportunities will be. Fishman also would like to see the city put in writing that it will not renege on promises about open space years down the road.

Kathy Gleason of the Concord Naval Weapons Station Neighborhood Alliance is passing fliers around in Concord neighborhoods encouraging them to attend the Monday meeting. Her organization wants to see 80 percent open space on the base and wants to see a large linear park separate new development from "old" Concord.

For details on the project, go to www.concordreuseproject.org.

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