Fort Ord Rec Users
Recent Letters to the Editor:
More news coverage regarding forU.

      * Monterey County Weekly "Hitch the Wagons" Article


News coverage regarding the press conference held on July 14.

      * The Californian News Article

      * Monterey County Weekly Article

News coverage regarding the Board of Supervisors Meeting on June 14th.

     * KION News Coverage

     * KSBW News Coverage

MST plan makes no sense

The initiative to save 4,000 oak trees at Fort Ord, not to mention avoiding the incredible expense of clearing the land for the proposed MST Center, was the easiest petition I have ever circulated. It appears that putting this issue to a public vote is nearly a reality. I am confident that the people will tell the Board of Supervisors not only no but hell no.

I agree with the sentiment of a great many people who signed the petition: there is something rotten in Denmark, something underhanded afoot the public is not being told about. The present plan makes no sense when a shovel-ready project site is available at the Marina airport, one of many alternatives.

Now we are seeing a similar lack of candor and secrecy in the proposed horse park development at Fort Ord. The public has a right to know what the plans are out there and who has their hand in the cookie jar. These are public lands administered by public officials we pay for and who are supposedly acting in the public interest. The public must have 
a seat at the table.

Susan Goldbeck
Pacific Grove

Airport site a better alternative

MST is trying to build a bus terminal out at Fort Ord. It wants to tear down acres of trees and destroy the Fort Ord Riding Club trail.

I suggest they rethink their plan and build it out by the Marina Airport or the old post motor pool, which is all cement and ideal for buses or on Second Avenue and 10th Street, the old Army Advertisement barracks with no troops in them. Why do they want to destroy a nice riding trial that more than 100 people use plus bicycle riders and walkers?

I had been a member of the Fort Ord Riding club since 1946 while the 11th Cavalry was still here. I rode my horse Commanche in many parades with the Army at Fort Ord. I have many letters from generals and a photo of me carrying the five-star flag for Gen. Douglas MacArthur when he was at the French embassy in Tokyo receiving France's highest honor from a one-armed general. I am proud that the trial was named after me.

I feel MST should build in another location.

Allan MacDonald

Rise up against MST project

With the exception of Supervisor Jane Parker, the Monterey County supervisors collectively approved the Monterey-Salinas transit project at Fort Ord which, in my opinion, is perhaps the biggest environmental travesty of the decade.

Does it make sense to adhere and abide by an inflexible 20-year-old Fort Ord reuse plan, decimating thousands of mature oak trees and paving the forest floor with asphalt and concrete? Certainly there are less destructive ways of saving this environmentally sensitive land, such as considering the barren land available at the Marina airport.

If there was ever a time when public indignation and reaction is needed, it is now.

Where are the concerns of environmental organizations, such as our local Sierra Club, with its watchdog role of preserving and protecting our natural surroundings, at least those that are left and worth saving?

It is highly likely that 40 to 50 years from now, people will remember that the 2011 Board of Supervisors lacked the wisdom and foresight to save this irreplaceable natural land for enjoyment and use by future generations.

We applaud you, Supervisor Parker, for your dedication, sincere environmental concerns, diligent research and listening to your constituents.

Jim Willoughby
Pacific Grove

Oaks crying 'foul'

I know exactly what those oaks are whispering after the Board of Supervisors, minus Jane Parker, voted to approve the Whispering Oaks project  that would destroy 3,500 coast live oaks to put in an Monterey-Salinas Transit facility on the former Fort Ord.

Despite the abundant vacant and derelict acreage waiting to be renovated on Fort Ord and the five hours of public concerns expressed, the supervisors approved the forest's destruction. The oaks and a lot of people are whispering the same thing, but it can't be printed.

Vienna Merritt Moore

Land belongs to the people

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! King Davie has spoken.

Supervisor Dave Potter and his minions have determined that subjects entering his fief of Whispering Oaks are trespassing and that they have no say in use of this land. The "trespassers" feel that this is public land and belongs to them.

Potter and his minions have turned a deaf ear to the people and listen to only the barons of wealth in Southern California. His subjects are thwarting his grandiose vision for the development of his Fort Ord kingdom.

Whispering Oaks is the first step in the process with Monterey Downs and Eastside Road being the kingpins in his plan to dispose of Fort Ord as he wants, the people be damned. It is time to depose the king and replace him with a democracy where the leaders listen to the citizens and take their concerns seriously.

It is time to replace him and his long-live-the-king attitude with a new leader who recognizes that public land belongs to the people. Hail to a new chief.

John Hutcherson

Parker fights MST plan

Congratulations to Supervisor Jane Parker. She listened to the unanimous vote of her Planning Commission and the multitude of voices from her constituents.

In a recent decision, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to allow Monterey-Salinas Transit to move forward and chop down 3,400 trees in a beautiful recreational wildlife habitat at Fort Ord called Whispering Oaks.

Why? Because the suits that represented MST were more convincing than the more than 3,500 signatures presented to the board by constituents asking for a change in location. The speakers, including the mayor of Marina, spoke overwhelmingly in favor of preserving Whispering Oaks as a recreational opportunity.

To be sure, MST does need a better location for its offices and bus parking lot. Public transportation is vital to this county. However, for the same reason that we don't need to build another hotel on the beach, we also don't need to build a business park in an established recreational area.

But only Jane Parker was willing to cast the vote of reason that would have provided a win-win situation. I am truly proud of this chairman of the board.

Roelof Wijbrandus

Project unraveled by backroom deals

The misled Latino and labor leaders who formed Friends of MST should listen more closely to Supervisor Dave Potter's remarks about the controversy over the proposed Whispering Oaks site: "This isn't about MST."

Potter has led the fight to keep the proposed Monterey-Salinas Transit site, in spite of unanimous disapproval by the county Planning Commission and overwhelmingly negative impacts to the environment and the community. Potter doesn't care about bicyclists or bus riders. His only concern is about "unraveling" his plan for Fort Ord.
Potter unraveled his own plan when he moved the original MST site because it was offensive to the horse track developer from Los Angeles, who didn't want it next to his proposed site. He relocated it to an untouched oak woodland with a vital segment of recreational trails.

So this isn't about MST, or bus riders, or working-class families. This is just another example of how money talks in our community. The rest of us be damned.

It's time to revisit Potter's outdated redevelopment plan for Fort Ord, this time with public input. Let your supervisor know that you want important decisions about open space and the environment done in public session, not with a handshake on the golf course.

Karen Morgan
Pacific Grove

Many oppose MST yard

An article on the Monterey-Salinas Transit proposal for an industrial bus maintenance yard and business park on the Whispering Oaks recreational corridor mentions opposition to this project by a "a group of horseback riders and history buffs" but fails to mention the hundreds of hikers and bicyclists, preservationists, eight Monterey County Sustainability groups, land-use groups, CSU Monterey Bay community members and others who recognize the unique economic value of a connected trail system and who are also working tirelessly to oppose destruction of this woodland habitat.

There is a broad coalition of Monterey County residents demanding that the supervisors affirm the Planning Commission's unanimous denial of a plan to bulldoze 58 acres of 4,400 trees. We love our bus service, but refuse the proposition of heavy industrial at this location with so much of blighted Fort Ord already cleared and waiting for development exactly like what MST needs.

Luana Conley

Protect Fort Ord's trails

For too long, recreational use of Fort Ord has been neglected by government planners.

One excellent example is the plan to build a Monterey-Salinas Transit regional bus repair hub on top of an important recreation trail that has been in use for decades. The Sgt. Allan MacDonald Cavalry Trail is big, long and obvious as it cuts through the parcels MST wants to build on. Yet it was not even mentioned in the project's environmental  impact report.

Another example is the planned Eastside Parkway, which will wipe out the two Peninsula-side access points to Fort Ord recreation: the Jerry Smith Corridor (at the east end of Inter-Garrison Road) and the Gigling Road entry (at the corner of Eighth Avenue).
It's time Monterey County and the Fort Ord Reuse Authority take seriously the opportunities for the history and comprehensive trail  network that could be promoted to increase real estate value and escalate the eco-tourism attraction for surrounding communities. Let's work together to save vital historical sites and trail segments before they are lost forever.
The trails that mean so much to Peninsula residents may have been overlooked by powers that be, but they have huge economic and social potential for this region.

Jan Shriner

Planners made right call on MST facility

The county redevelopment agency and Monterey-Salinas Transit officials want to put a 58-acre industrial business park and maintenance facility on forested open space within sprinting distance of the Jerry Smith Corridor to BLM trails. The county Planning Commission finds the plan unacceptable and unanimously rejected it twice.

According to an April  14 Herald article, the redevelopment agency and MST officials believe the commission is wrong because "the site has been designated for industrial uses under the Fort Ord re-use plan, and a business park has been planned there for years." Thank you, planning commissioners, for soberly considering what is in the best interests of your constituents and the reality of the land itself before rubber-stamping the clear-cutting of 4,400 oaks and insertion of heavy diesel congestion into a recreational corridor and campus zone.

Thank you for taking a stand in opposition to county and MST officials, though someone thought it was a smart idea two decades ago.

Thank you for understanding that there was no way of knowing then that in 2011 there would be more than 1 million square feet of approved commercial development yet to be built and an oversupply of vacant  commercial space for sale or rent.

Gail Morton

MST transit hub good for county

I have recently read the opinions of several members of the community concerned about the intention of Monterey-Salinas Transit to build a public transit maintenance and operations facility on land owned by the Monterey County Redevelopment Agency on Fort Ord.

The Fort Ord Base Reuse Plan was adopted by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority board, which consists of elected officials appointed from local cities, the county of Monterey and other parties, including CSU Monterey Bay and MST. The plan was developed after years of negotiation and litigation. It was ultimately agreed to by a diverse group of interests including local, state and federal officials and the Sierra Club in 1997, and it set aside nearly 20,000 of the 28,000 acres of Fort Ord for habitat and open space recreational uses.

The remaining 8,000 acres was designated for residential, commercial/light industrial, hospitality and other recreational uses. The agreed-to plan has always contemplated redevelopment of the parcel at Inter-Garrison Road and 8th Avenue. That the Redevelopment Agency is now planning to develop this parcel as planned should not come as a surprise to anyone.

The proposed MST facility and other light industrial commercial uses proposed for the parcel are consistent with the reuse plan and the 2010 Monterey County general plan. The MST facility is designed to high environmental standards, which include the use of photovoltaic power, rainwater harvesting, natural landscaping and other design elements that are expected to earn the project a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating.
The facility is desperately needed by the working families served by Monterey-Salinas Transit, as our 35-year-old facilities can no longer effectively support the fleet of transit vehicles needed by the growing numbers who depend on MST for transportation. The lack of sufficient space to park and maintain the fleet has created safety concerns within the bus yard - bus mechanics are required to work outdoors in the rain while repairing equipment - and constrains MST from continuing to grow.

The MST facility does not inhibit access to the area on the parcel that is now being used as a horse trail without the permission of the property owner. The needs of those who use the trail could be accommodated within the remaining area being developed as a business park by the redevelopment agency once they are granted permission.

The project does not result in a loss of trees, as MST and the redevelopment agency have committed to replanting more trees onsite and offsite than are being removed.

The project will create hundreds of local construction jobs and help mitigate the jobs/housing imbalance by placing jobs closer to homes, reducing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving the quality of life in our region.

It seems some horse trail users would be inconvenienced by having a small portion of the trail slightly realigned to access over 82 miles of existing trails. Those opposed to the realignment have proposed that MST move its project. That would require as much as $1 million for additional design costs. In these difficult financial times, MST and the taxpayers cannot justify this expenditure to subsidize a trail being used without the permission of the property owner.

MST has undergone a thorough and well thought out public planning process over the past several years and has invested more than $ 4.5 million of public funds in designing an appropriately sized facility for our home for the next 50 years. The project is good for the hardworking people at MST, the working families that depend on MST services, and the Monterey Bay region as a whole.

Carl Sedoryk is general manager and CEO of Monterey-Salinas Transit.

Ask MST to withdraw transit hub plan

Please contact Monterey-Salinas Transit and urge the board's members to withdraw their proposal to develop a transit hub and repair yard in the pristine oak habitat of the Whispering Oaks greenway. The project as it is structured destroys 4,400 oak trees, is not cost effective and does not offer the most multimodal, interconnective options for  public use.

The Planning Commission denied the proposal because of its severely disadvantageous geographical and environmental parameters. Please, do the sensible thing and withdraw the proposal, select a site already commercially developed and save tax money while protecting our heritage environment.

Deborah Helen
Del Rey Oaks

MST should give up on Fort Ord project

Monterey-Salinas Transit and the Monterey County Redevelopment Agency have twice asked the county Planning Commission to rezone a 58-acre,coast live oak woodland from open space to "heavy commercial" and approve the bulldozing of 4,400 mature trees.

Twice the commissioners have unanimously refused, but under the guidance of the Redevelopment Agency, an appeal to the Board of Supervisors has been filed.

Maybe it's time for our Board of Supervisors to defer to the Planning Commission's good judgment in this matter, or even better, for the MST board of directors to take the bold stand of withdrawing their appeal. This project on the Fort Ord location is just bad planning.

The lands bequeathed to the Peninsula after the closure of Fort Ord are a magnificent gift, demanding our most careful stewardship. Monterey County is beyond fortunate to have an area that provides abundant recreational opportunities while preserving diverse habitat. Unfortunately, myriad proposals are coming forward that will destroy large swathes of this beautiful land.

Two such proposals are the MST maintenanceŠoperations facility and the county's proposed Whispering Oaks Business Park. This regional transit yard and poetically named adjoining industrial development will clear-cut 4,400 oak trees in the natural scenery abutting the Bureau of Land Management open space and trail system.

The MST project is more than just a passenger depot. It includes repair yards, washing and maintenance bays with accompanying runoff into the environment, and parking lots for the MST bus fleet.

The land under threat is a robust habitat of bobcats, foxes, hawks, turkeys, deer, coyotes, badgers and rare native plants. This development will introduce diesel emissions, noise and lumbering traffic to a mile of scenic corridor, and sever the Sgt. Allan MacDonald Cavalry Trail, the only link between the Marina Equestrian Center and 82 miles of federal trails.

Destroying this trail segment will cause irreparable harm to the recreation network promised in Fort Ord Reuse Authority documents. The public was intended to have unbroken access between the coastal and interior open spaces of Fort Ord from multiple entry points. The cavalry trail is necessary to complete the link between the state beach and federal recreation land, with Marina Equestrian Center as hub.

In 2009, the Board of Supervisors adopted the "Monterey County Voluntary Oak Woodland Stewardship Guidelines," affirming the significant "cultural, economic and ecological value" of our dwindling oak habitats, committing to their conservation and making the county eligible for conservation grants.

Less than a year later, the redevelopment agency was promoting an oak wilderness as an ideal setting for heavy industry. This is bad communication, bad stewardship and bad faith.

Yes, MST needs to consolidate facilities. But at this location, the price is too high. Other sites available include a parcel of blight at 7th Avenue and Gigling Road, which is the designated site in the 1997 Fort Ord Reuse Plan and is already owned by MST. The city of Marina is offering land at the Marina airport, with ready-to-go infrastructure and nimble air, bus, auto and light-rail interconnectability.

MST has worked overtime to achieve a reputation for green practice and environmental savvy. No one wants to see this image shattered. At the May 9 MST board of directors meeting, it is optimistically expected that our community leaders will exercise their power to withdraw their appeal to the Board of Supervisors. It's not too late to turn the bus around.

Margaret Davis is coordinator of Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse, a group dedicated to preserving the history of the mounted cavalry, quartermaster pack trains, Army Veterinary Corps, and horse-drawn artillery at Fort Ord.
KSBW Supports forU in its Battle Against the MST/Whispering Oaks Project!!

  KSBW Editorial: Pick Your Battles - Ft. Ord Oaks?