NEWS RELEASE, 2/21/97
Plan for future of Fort Ord parcel, sought by police, artists, Native Americans, to be presented Feb. 21
Berkeley -- Three plans for Fort Ord that meld varying needs -- from police emergency training to Native American pow-wows -- will be presented Friday (Feb. 21) by a UC Berkeley design team working with the National Endowment for the Arts.
Known as the Fort Ord-East Garrison, the 700 acres of pristine land overlooking the Salinas Valley sparked a controversy last summer when police agencies, an artists colony, a Native American group and an equestrian program all staked a claim. The parcel is one of the remaining portions of Fort Ord on which planning is not yet resolved.
The architects will present their plans for the East Garrison Friday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. in the Battle Simulation Building of Fort Ord's East Garrison. A public presentation will follow Sunday, Feb. 23 at 10 a.m. in the California State University Monterey Bay music building.
Because of the disputed use of the East Garrison land, the National Endowment for the Arts selected it as an interesting case "to show how these people could coexist instead of eyeing each other's space and saying they were incompatible," said Donlyn Lyndon, chair of UC Berkeley's architecture department and a member of the design team.
At the same time, the fragile landscape required planning from the ground up, driven by good stewardship rather than job creation and economic forces, as has driven other base conversion plans, said Lyndon.
In addition to Lyndon, other members of the team from UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design include Dean Harrison Fraker, Professor Peter Bosselmann, Lecturer Lisa Findley and assistant project coordinators Brian Laczko and Thomas Kronemeyer. Also participating were Stephanie Bothwell of Auburn University and Boston architect Richard Shepard.
As planning began last September, competing interests were immediately apparent, said Lyndon.
"The Monterey Peninsula College has a public safety education program linked with the sheriff's office," he said. "They had an idea they could have a regional training center for police officers on this site, which is deserted. With all these empty buildings sitting around, they could attack them, race cars around, the sort of thing they need to do for emergency training."
On the other hand, Arts Habitat, a group interested in securing space for artists, thought "they could have live/work spaces there," said Lyndon. "They could make a little community even."
In addition, a Native American group staked a claim, wanting a pow-wow ground for cultural and religious rites.
The UC Berkeley group assembled representatives from each concern and began a community planning process "to sort out the very real differences," said Lyndon.
Once the largest military reservation in the U.S. and covering an area roughly comparable to San Francisco, Fort Ord was an Army infantry training center until recently.
Located about 15 miles northeast of Monterey, the flood plain and agricultural land of the East Garrison is dotted with oak trees and marked by a sharp rise eroded into ravines that carry off winter water.
"This is California land, very easily destroyed by recontouring and trampling down the grasses," said Lyndon.
After a series of exercises with a community facilitator, "we wound up with a set of things people had to say about the place," said Lyndon, from which the design team developed three alternative plans.
"We look at these three schemes as sort of a continuum from more modest development to more intense," said Lyndon.
Maximum development would allow for about 2,500 inhabitants as well as some light industry and research on 200 acres of the site. On the other end of the spectrum, only existing buildings would be retained, leaving the land largely undisturbed.
As for the drama of the conflicting players' needs, "they did come to an agreement they could cohabit the space and part of our job was to help them see how," said Lyndon.
Solutions included moving high-speed vehicle chases to a remote spot -- an old military training ground -- and mixing other police educational facilities with artist galleries and small business start-ups.
The various scenarios will be presented Friday, followed by review on Saturday by a team of distinguished international experts, further plan revisions and a final presentation Sunday, to be attended by Congressman Sam Farr.
The plans will then be turned over to the county for further exploration. Monterey County will make the final proposal on how the site is used and will likely "proceed to the next phase and really look at how this plays out in economic terms," said Lyndon.
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