Paul Cotten 0

Say NO to the 'Mare Island/Vallejo Port'. Say YES to Mare Island's Future.

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Help us derail the TCRY/Mare Island Rail Service's flawed proposal to build a mega-port on Mare Island.

Mare Island has come a long way, from a decommissioned Naval shipyard to a smart, mixed-use community with hundreds of local jobs, a diversity of businesses, open spaces, a medical college and a thriving residential community and many other positive uses too numerous to mention here. What happens to Mare Island directly impacts all Vallejoans both businesses and residences alike.

Especially now, as Vallejo climbs out of recession and bankruptcy, when the value of Mare Island is becoming apparent, we need to continue moving forward with mixed-use development that is compatible with all of Vallejo with a particular focus on removing North Mare Island eyesores, continue attracting a diversity of new businesses (Blu Homes, Enclos, the Mare Island Ferry terminal project) and expanding walkable and bikeable neighborhoods for the enjoyment of all Vallejo residents.

A recent proposal by the Mare Island Rail Service proposes a so-called "North Mare Island Port and Rail Yard" that would be on the scale of the large mega-ports on the Pacific coast. The individuals behind this scheme have no plans to comply with the island's long-standing environmental clean-up plans, which call for the removal of crumbling, dangerous buildings, and installing needed infrastructure. Most telling is that instead of building a working relationship with the residents and Vallejo city officials, the people behind this project are mired in litigation against the City of Vallejo. On it's own, this is a red flag! No project can succeed without collaborating with those impacted.

And who would be impacted? Many citizens and businesses in Vallejo would be harmed - not just those on Mare Island. This proposed use would drastically change Mare Island, the Napa River front and would be in direct conflict with the current mixed-use of the island, which has created - and continues to create- a diverse economic and residential base within the City of Vallejo.

This is not a case of residential use versus industrial use. It's already been proven that the two can and do co-exist on Mare Island as elsewhere. This is, however, a case of smart, diverse-use development, conducted in collaboration with all the players versus one larger player steamrolling their agenda ahead like a bull in a china shop.

This proposal to use North Mare Island (North of G Street) for a mega-port and rail yard goes entirely in the wrong direction. It would create few jobs, make the North Island area unusable for most other businesses, and other uses, and would create enormous environmental impacts (both in terms of hazardous wastes and negative aesthetics) not only for Mare Island residents, but anyone living, working or playing downwind of the area.

This short-sighted proposal for a mega-port would replace temporary eyesores with permanent eyesores and would allow the transportation and storage of dangerous and toxic commodities like chemicals, oil from tar sands, fertilizer, and coal stockpiles in our city and riverfront. The Napa river would be filled with huge container ships. More diesel trucks and long trains would clog our bridges and local city roads day and night. Moreover, once in place, it will prove difficult, expensive and likely impossible to control the inflow of these dangerous stockpiles of toxins, leaving residents and some businesses no alternative but to move out, resulting in declining property values and neglected communities, not to mention creating a new challenge to attract future businesses to the area.

The project would also require a wide range of environmental impact reports which would tie up use of the proposed sites for years to come. This would make it more difficult to attract other developers, both business and residential. It would essentially freeze development while Mare Island Rails Service potentially spends years in litigation and court challenges attempting to skirt or overturn environmental concerns and other community concerns.

This proposal will impact more than just the North Island area. It will include much of the existing industrial area, including the waterfront south of G Street. Given that the Mare Island Rail Service's proposed mega-port plans are vague and poorly organized, that they are in litigation with the City, and that they already control rail access to and from the island via their exclusive right-of-use of the rail system going through the city, they've situated themselves to launch a major and messy attack that will likely cost the City thousands, if not millions, in legal fees.

Yes, you heard it here: The Mare Island Rail Service is planning on creating a major shipping port (containers, trains, diesel smoke, stockpiles of dangerous and toxic products, trucks, cranes - the whole works) right smack dab in the middle or our city on the Napa River on Mare Island.

Under the guise of "Campaign Vallejo", they're eagerly funneling money into the Vallejo City council race this year with hopes of swaying the City Council to move in their direction: Building a vast, mega-port facility that would rival the Long Beach port in scope and scale.

Again, this is not a residents versus industry. Nobody, including residents of Mare Island are against development (residential or business) if it fits within the existing mixed-use plan. Most of us were in support of the opening up of the former dry docks on the river for use.

Now the POSITIVE news:

There has been a sea change in the way the City and our representatives in Washington view the North Island area thanks to community action (such as this petition) and wise planning, lobbying and collaboration on the part of a number of key players.
Currently, Senator Louis Wolk and Congressman Mike Thompson and other important officials (navy, Lennar Mare Island), in concert with the City of Vallejo Council and Planning Commission and local community leaders, have committed to expediting existing environmental cleanup and demolition activities, thus laying the foundation for positive future smart, mixed-use development of the North Island area as well as the whole of the island. We believe this continues the forward movement - now at a faster pace - towards the final goal of transforming Mare Island to diverse, mixed-uses, compatible with the greater Vallejo community.

We should NOT compromise this productive effort by pursuing the deeply flawed and contentious "North Mare Island Port and Rail Yard" scheme proposed by Mare Island Rail Service.

Therefore, help us stop this train before it leaves the station! Help us send a strong message to the Vallejo politicians on behalf of Mare Island and all Vallejo citizens and voters: Say "NO!" to the "North Island Port and Rail Yard" proposal.

Please sign this petition, pass the petition link on to your neighbors and friends and help us realize the full and positive potential of not only the North Mare Island area, but of all Vallejo!

Sincerely, Wendell Quigley, resident, activist.

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