Residents present alternatives to casino for Point Molate
on September 10, 2010
Citizens at a forum on alternatives to the Point Molate casino plan Wednesday suggested developing a wind farm and solar energy plant, among other ideas. Tarnel Abbott, a Richmond resident of 25 years, noted in her green energy plan that Point Molate’s westward-facing position would be conducive to a wind farm. Architect Darrell Caraway presented a mixed-use plan for the site.
Wednesday was the second of three forums the city is offering to invite the public to present ideas for developing Point Molate. Six options are already under review, including one similar to Caraway’s proposal. Steve Duran, the Executive Director of Richmond’s Community Development Agency, said Wednesday he was unsure either of the two proposals offered would be suitable for the site.
“I don’t know if it’s different enough,” Duran said of Caraway’s plan.
The Berkeley firm Design, Community & Environment (DCE) hosted Wednesday’s workshop, along with the Richmond Planning Department. DCE president David Early said the company has an obligation to the city, paid for by casino developer Upstream L.L.C., to analyze all the proposals for Point Molate and make a recommendation to the city.
Half the options under review include a mixed-use tribal resort and casino, a controversial project proposed by the Guidiville Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. The tribe has petitioned the federal government for trust land at Point Molate. In an agreement with the city, the tribe and its partner, Upstream L.L.C., have promised that thousands of the jobs created by the casino project would go to Richmond residents, who are suffering from 18.5 percent unemployment.
“The absolute, deep, real concern is about joblessness,” Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman said. “That’s where the casino gets its support.”
Roughly half of Richmond residents support the casino’s development and half oppose it, Ritterman said. “It’s a wedge issue that divides our community.”
Among those who came Wednesday night to oppose the casino was Wende Heath, who lives near Point Molate in the San Pablo Yacht Harbor.
Heath and other opponents favor designating Point Molate for mixed-use development, limiting the area to park spaces, or doing nothing at all. These are the other three options the city is reviewing. “The idea that a casino is going to go in breaks our hearts,” Heath said.
Meanwhile, Jim Levine, managing partner of the developer, Upstream, says his company is paying the city $115,000 a month for basic maintenance of the site. Levine estimates he has paid out more than $16 million since the city selected Upstream as the developer in 2003. “The city has to make a decision,” Levine said.
The final workshop on alternative plans for Point Molate will be held on November 17, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.
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