Blight Bites

One option for the $15.1 million in funds is blight removal, which Mayor Bruce Delgado says is costly due to labor costs, plus hazardous materials like lead and asbestos.

The city of Marina has contrasting scenery: On one side, new development is rising. Just across the street, rotting buildings are a holdover from the city’s past as a military town.

Those two scenes represent two approaches for how city officials can prioritize next steps in the city’s evolution: staff lean toward blight removal, while residents have spoken out publicly with a preference for improving recreational areas.

The city has $8.6 million available to start blight removal, plus additional funds – up to $6.5 million – that will become available within the next five years. The question is what to do with that money and how to prioritize limited funds.

The community was invited to attend a virtual town hall meeting on Jan. 28, as the council was looking for input on how to spend the $15.1 million they have available to either upgrade facilities or remove decaying Army buildings.

During the meeting, Public Works Director Brian McMinn provided work plans showing a list of various demolition and restoration projects around the city and the projected cost of each. It included a range of price tags. Removing former Army barracks: $5.8 million. Removing the building in front of the Marina Equestrian Center: $160,000. Tearing down the military housing at Lower Patton Park (where the Cypress Knolls senior residential project will be located near Highway 1): $13.2 million.

On the improvements side, there’s stabilizing the Art Village Building for $1.4 million; reroofing the fire station for $200,000; or repairing the First Chapel, on Fort Ord, for $1 million.

High on the public’s list, based on their comments at the Jan. 28 meeting, is rehabilitating the Water City Roller Hockey building ($3 million). One speaker was Alex Garcia, a 40-year-old Salinas resident who has been regularly going to the rink since he was in high school. Garcia and other volunteers coach hockey to more than 100 kids, ages 6-14. “It’s really a diamond in Monterey County that brings families together,” he says.

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh asked the council to prioritize taking down decaying buildings near Marina High School, calling the blight removal essential to create “a first-class educational environment for students.”

Marina City Council is expected to decide at a Feb. 17 meeting which projects make the list.

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(1) comment

Reggie Owens

Keeping the skate rink open is vital for the community. Public skate, birthday parties, roller hockey and roller derby are currently successful programs for public activity. The rink has been a staple of the community for many years now. The youth hockey program has shown great success with a co-ed and diverse group of kids gaining skills in sports and life. Investing funds into a building that has a successful public activity in place and doesn’t have any competition within 100 miles is the best option.

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