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Media Coverage
Rocky Start For Pt. Molate
May 28, 1996



Tuesday, May 28, 1996
Section: Opinion
Page: A11
Column: Editorials

The Richmond City Council has done the expected more's the pity and reaffirmed an earlier, queasy-making decision on Point Molate.

Expected, because there was no way a council majority was going to do an about-face and change its mind about hiring Dan Peterson & Associates as design consultants.

A pity, because this jewel of a waterfront development on the site of the old naval fuels depot no matter how it turns out from now on has been flawed by an inept selection process that has now been sanctioned by Tuesday night's vote.

There was no tidy way out, other than to stand pat, for the five council members who originally voted for Peterson: Irma Anderson, Nat Bates, Alex Evans, Richard Griffin and Lesa McIntosh. Predictably, they voted as they did in March.

To have done otherwise, would have been an admission that critics of the earlier decision were right.

Why did the council reverse an earlier decision to vote in favor of the city staff's top-rated firm and switch over to select one ranked sixth among seven contenders?

Two of the council members explained their positions in written communications to the Times. Anderson's letter to the editor was printed on March 31; Griffin's bylined op-ed piece appeared April 7.

Both relied heavily on the caliber and qualifications of various associates which Peterson, a small, sole-proprietor firm based in Richmond, would assemble for the project. Most of these are based outside Richmond.

In buttressing arguments for the Peterson selection, they succeeded also in adding to the puzzle. If the Peterson group had all that going for it, what wondrous accomplishments did the losers bring to the table if they all ranked ahead Peterson.?

The whiff of pressure by Richmond lobbyist Darrell Reese, a charge first raised by Councilman Tom Butt and later modified, is intriguing and apt, but it clouds and fails to clarify the central issue.

Every official, anybody with a finger on a decision-making button, is lobbied all the time by those trying to sway an opinion all for a payoff of some kind.

The five Richmond council members took the only way out, short of losing face, perhaps facing a lawsuit if they didn't affirm their original choice and started back at square one, and satisfying a federal requirement that local squabbles be settled at home.

It's just too bad that the grand potential of Point Molate had to get off to such a messy start toward its realization.