June 27, 2006 > A big step forward
A big step forward
On Thursday, June 22, Newark's city council took a big step forward toward making a dream come true. By a 3 to 1 vote (Aye: Mayor Dave Smith, Vice Mayor Luis Freitas, Councilmember Al Nagy; Nay: Councilmember Ana Apodaca; Absent: Councilmember Sue Johnson), Mayor David Smith was authorized to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with New Technology Park Associates (NTPA). Represented by Mr. John Sabrato, NTPA agreed to initiate the lengthy process of preparing a Specific Plan exception to Newark's land use General Plan Update of 1992.
Mayor Dave noted that even before 1992, city planners (and dreamers) envisioned an 18-hole championship golf course and high-end housing development in Newark. This was expressed in the General Plan Update of 1992. Local property owner and developer, NTPA, has stepped forward to take on this project, including a commitment to reimburse the city's costs in preparing the Specific Plan. As a show of good faith, NTPA wrote a check to the city in the amount of $734,015. NTPA agreed to deposit additional funds as needed.
The targeted area, known in the plan as Area 4, is located in the southwest corner of the city between Mowry Ave. and Stevenson Blvd. and to the west of the Union Pacific railroad tracks. The adjacent Area 3 is also part of the memorandum. This includes land bound by Mowry Ave., Cherry St., Stevenson Blvd., and the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
If the project moves forward, NTPA will be required to develop a golf course and an elementary school in exchange for a zoning variance of NTPA's properties. Both Assistant City Manager Jim Reese and the Mayor emphasized the non-binding nature of the MOU; either party may withdraw with proper notice. Despite these assurances, Councilmember Ana Apodaca expressed serious concerns that this MOU would project the wrong image for the city. She did not want citizens to view this project as a "done deal" in which they have no input. She also stressed the importance of including affordable housing, consistent with the General Plan. Ultimately, she voted against the MOU resolution, but then joined in a 4 - 0 vote in favor of a companion resolution authorizing a series of subcontractors for various phases of the Specific Plan process.
The project has already sparked community interest. Plans call for numerous public hearings at critical decision points over the next two years. Community boosters Shirley Sisk and Pat Danielson spoke in enthusiastic support of the project.
Mayor Smith closed the meeting with the council's unanimous wishes to the citizens for a safe and happy 4th of July.