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Media Coverage
Group: Don't Store Fuels At Pt. Molate
June 20, 1996



Thursday, June 20, 1996
Section: news
Page: A03

RICHMOND It would be premature to bar petroleum from Point Molate's future, the Richmond City Council told members of a citizens group Tuesday in a meeting that featured an unusual outburst by a councilman.

The citizens group asked the council to pass a resolution preventing the former military base from being used as a fuel depot or having any other petroleum operations there.

Such uses would be incompatible with recreational, educational or other activities, members of the group argued.

"You can forget about using your hills your shoreline " if petroleum operations continue there, said Don Gosney, a member of the citizens commission who said he has 22 years' experience building and demolishing oil facilities.

"I agree with the concept," said Councilwoman Lesa McIntosh. "But the problem I have is this is extremely premature."

The council has hired a consultant to design new uses for the 420-acre area, and the council should let him do that, McIntosh said. "I just don't feel comfortable tying anyone's hands at this point."

Council members Nat Bates and Irma Anderson concurred. "If Chevron offered us $10 million a year," Bates said, "you think I wouldn't vote for that?"

Point Molate has been considered a possible site for parks, a convention center or a college campus. A former naval fuel depot that lies just west of the Chevron refinery, it was decommissioned last year by the Defense Department.

The council, sitting as the Local Reuse Authority for the former base, discussed the item as part of an agenda-setting meeting. Though no formal action was taken, Mayor Rosemary Corbin said she heard a majority of council members speak against it. She declined to move the item to next week's agenda for a vote effectively killing it for now.

A long study session prior to the meeting had stretched both time and tempers. It was 11 p.m.

Councilman Tom Butt asked the mayor to require a vote or a show of hands on whether to move the item to the agenda. She refused, saying that would be inappropriate for an agenda-setting meeting.

Butt responded by heaving his foot-high stack of papers from the dais onto the floor.

"That's a hell of a way to run a meeting," he said, breaking the stunned silence. He then gathered up the papers and stomped out of the room.

Butt said Wednesday that the meeting's speakers convinced him of the importance of barring petroleum uses on Point Molate.

But he was more upset with the lack of process in the meeting, he said.

"I think my reaction was probably excessive given the circumstances." On the other hand, he added, "If it takes losing one's temper to get people's attention, then maybe that's the right thing to do."

In related business Tuesday, several council members participated in a conference call with city staff and federal officials in Washington.

The subject: a decision by the federal Office of Economic Adjustment to suspend a $150,000 grant to the city for Point Molate re-use planning.

The grant was suspended because Richmond failed to comply with federal rules regarding the selection of a re-use project consultant, OEA officials said.

During the phone call, federal officials reiterated their demand that Richmond create and submit to them written procedures on the selection of an outside consultant. The city also must have procedures on how it would handle any disputes arising out of such a selection.

Several council members argued that the city already has procedures.