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Mare Island, Vallejo & Our Economic Future

Stunning Potential

Vallejo is positioned as a Northbay transportation hub, a beautiful town with a warm Mediterranean climate, stunning water views, charming architecture, and an excellent ferry service to San Francisco. Vallejo’s downtown and waterfront areas are poised at the edge of a renaissance. Our City leaders have claimed that revitalization is their top priority. According to Vallejo’s own 2002 Vision Statement: “Vallejo will be the most desirable, progressive and livable city in the Bay Area.”

Mare Island has a rich history that adds charm and character to the city of Vallejo. After the Navy closed the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1996, many Vallejo citizens and City leaders worked together to create the award-winning Mare Island Reuse Plan that capitalized on Mare Island’s history and incredible potential. The Reuse Plan promised pedestrian-friendly, commercial, retail, light industry and residential development. The Reuse Plan specifically omitted heavy industry on the scale currently proposed by Bechtel-Shell, and designated the southern end of Mare Island - the proposed site for the LNG facility and power plant -- as a regional park. This was a keystone of the Mare Island Reuse Plan.

Conceptual drawing of Mare Island's
Historic Area.
From Vallejo's Economic Development Division

Mare Island has so much to offer, most notably a rich tourist economy potential. It has a fascinating naval history dating back to the Civil War, a priceless collection of Tiffany glass in St. Peters Chapel, tree-lined streets and beautiful historic mansions, significant architectural heritage status, and key placement on the Pacific Flyway - which attracts thousands of migratory birds to the Island each year. All in a setting of incredible natural beauty, positioned at the gateway to the Wine Country.

All the raw materials are here for a major people-friendly economic engine.

A Wet Blanket on Our Economic Future

The Bechtel-Shell LNG gas and power plants would derail the renewal and investment our town is just beginning to enjoy. Rather than the beautiful open space at the end of Mare Island, visitors and commuters crossing the Carquinez Bridge and traveling by the popular Baylink Ferry would be confronted by two or three huge 15-story tall storage tanks, and acres of ugly gasification pipes, steam towers, flashing lights, and wiring. It goes without saying that the Bechtel-Shell plant, if built, would dominate both Mare Island and Vallejo’s future and degrade Vallejo’s newly-improved image into that of a power-plant or refinery town.

Blight Begets Blight

History proves it. Across the United States, town after town has been forever marked by heavy industry. Well-known examples of industrial towns are Detroit, Michigan, Lake Charles, Louisiana and Everett, Massachusets (both Lake Charles and Everett are hosts to LNG receiving terminals.) In the Bay Area, Richmond and East Oakland have been a concentration of heavy industry. And Contra Costa County across the Carquinez Strait has been increasingly industrialized and polluted by oil refineries and other heavy industries. We don't need a study to tell us that heavy, ugly industry attracts more heavy, ugly industry.

Towns Taken Down by LNG

Rossville, New Jersey
This sleepy seaside resort near the shore of the Arthur Kill was once scattered with lovely Victorian houses and beautiful bridle paths. “Many of the 500 families who live there chose this village on the shore of the Arthur Kill because it was a good place to bring up children. Safe.” On July 25th, 1970, the Distrigas Company announced that it would construct nine fourteen-story LNG storage tanks on a 97-acre tract in Rossville. Distrigas eventually erected two tanks. By the late 1970s Rossville was a dilapidated town littered with for sale signs. One family living within 500 feet of the two LNG tanks gave up trying to sell their house. (From, Time Bomb, Peter Vanderlinde with Naomi A Hintz, page 50, Doubleday & Co., 1978)

Everett, Massachusets
Everett is dominated by heavy industry, including the Distrigas LNG plant and new nearby power plant. Despite being so near to Boston, an area rich with colleges, universities, computer, bio-tech and pharmaceutical industries, Everett has not been able to attract any of these types of businesses.

More Links:
Power Plant Blues: Bohemian homesteaders in Vallejo battle an unexpected newcomer
City of Vallejo

© 2002 maggdog communications
Photos courtesy of Michael Halberstadt, Joyce Scharf and Friends of VallejoCPR
Page Last Updated Jan 8, 2003