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City Unsure Who Will Pay For Point Molate Plan
January 17, 1997


Friday, January 17, 1997
Section: news
Page: A06

RICHMOND Transforming the Navy's old fueling depot into homes, businesses and parks will take big bucks, and some on the City Council are wondering who will pay the bill. 

The council on Tuesday got its first official look at a proposal to develop Point Molate, a 300-acre beachfront property just west of the Chevron refinery. 

Though they praised ideas to remake the area, some worried that they about the price tag. 

"I need to see the scope to see the economic feasibility of some of these proposals," Councilman Tom Butt said. 

"I'm looking for some good numbers on what this is going to cost." 

Consultants, using input from a city advisory committee, say the land could be used for a winery, a retreat center, outdoor classrooms, a shoreline park and 544 new homes, most of which would be multi-family residences. 

A historic district revolving around the old Winehaven winery should be the centerpiece, consultants have said. 

Mayor Rosemary Corbin said an economic analysis of the area has been conducted, and consultants found "there are some real opportunities" at Point Molate. 

Butt, however, said the city should have a backup plan just in case they can't pull off some of the proposals. 

"I'm concerned that we need to have a backup plan," Butt said. 

"I see a lot of wish lists where we say If we get the money, then we're going to do it.' " 

City staff and members of the Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee considering the plan said it's premature to talk about money. Council members, sitting as the Local Reuse Authority, are a month or more away from voting on the proposal. 

And federal housing and defense officials must still sign off on Richmond's plan. 

The federal government has not yet given permission for the city to take control of or develop the land. 

"This is an application on whether we want the land or not," said Lonnie Washington, a former councilman and member of the advisory committee. 

"We can work out the rest later." 

Still, the city may be forced to take up some of the funding issues now. 

The area is not part of the city's redevelopment plan. Pat Jones, who handles Local Reuse Authority issues for the city, said council members may want to take up the issue as soon as they can to increase the amount of redevelopment cash they generate. 

Redevelopment shaves a portion of property tax revenues to help revive blighted areas of a city. 

State law has been amended to allow redevelopment to cover former military bases, Jones said. 

City officials and committee members also said they are counting on developers to pick up much of the cost of roads and new sewers in the area. 

The land's proximity to Chevron also raised questions from Councilman Alex Evans. 

The proposal says nothing about the impact of Chevron's refinery operation on potential businesses and housing, he said. 

Consultants, however, said the land is protected by a high ridge, and prevailing winds would blow fumes from a potential chemical spill away from the area. 

The council meeting opened a 30-day public comment period on the 275-page Point Molate Reuse Plan. Copies of the plans can be reviewed at Richmond libraries and City Hall. Comments should be forwarded to Pat Jones at City Hall. 

The council must submit a final plan to the Department of Defense by March 28. 

Point Molate shut down operations in September 1995 and the Navy is cleaning up toxic waste at the site. The station was established in the early 1940s.