The comments by Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group followed two presentations. One was by San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the region’s transportation planning agency, on proposed Naval Information Warfare Systems Command’s revitalization. That project could include transforming Old Town into a future central mobility hub with airport connections.
The other presentation was by Zach Adams of Brookfield Properties, the firm recently chosen by the City to redevelop the Sports Arena area.
“The (Midway) community has had no voice up until now (on both projects),” argued Cathy Kenton, Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group chair. “What I’m hearing is you’re going to be doing community outreach that’s going to be minimal at best.”
Added Kenton: “I have been begging SANDAG, and the Navy, since this (NAVWAR) came up, to please give the community a seat at the table. Nobody knows this community better than we do. We’ve fought too hard, and for too long. We’re on the cusp of really doing something great in this community, and you’re just giving us a bunch of lip service.”
“We appreciate the passion and we understand you want to carry out your vision for making Midway an area to be proud of,” responded SANDAG’s Jack Christensen. “That’s exactly the type of comments we want to hear.”
Noting the NAVWAR revitalization and the possible conversion of Old Town into a mobility hub are in the “very early stage,” Christensen added, “We promise to continue to engage the community planning group as the project advances. We hear you.”
Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group board member Kurt Sullivan agreed with Kenton that the planning group has been left out of the loop in the governmental decision-making process on important community issues.
“There is a long history in this community of City government telling us your voice will be heard, we’ll take your concerns into consideration – and it doesn’t happen,” Sullivan said. He cited an example. “Our group has been dealing with the redevelopment of the Sports Arena for eight to 10 years, it’s in our community plan. And we were never formally asked, ‘What do you think about the City’s selection committee that chose a developer? It’s tremendously frustrating.”
The Navy has signed an agreement with the City and SANDAG to redevelop the 70.5-acre NAVWAR site adjacent to Interstate 5 just blocks from the Old Town Transit Center. The parties have previously discussed what development at NAVWAR might look like: A transit hub with a central terminus for buses and trains, likely with a people-mover or shuttle to the airport.
Regarding former Sports Arena redevelopment, Zach Adams of winning bidder Brookfield said, “We know what this project can mean for the area. The way we think about projects is we start with the idea of values, what is important about a project, and how we can incorporate building that for the community.”
Adams promised Brookfield will outreach with Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group moving forward to collaborate on sports arena redevelopment.
“The starting point for that is an inclusive engagement process,” he said. “We know things are going to change and evolve with time because of the feedback. We’re creating something very special here that’s custom-crafted for this site, for the Midway District.”