Monday, Oct 9, 2006 | I just finished reading Neil Morgan’s column, “San Diego’s Potemkin Villages,” and I am amazed at how he continues to distort facts. And so we must continue to point out some glaring inaccuracies that he has refused to correct over the years. With regards to the Naval Training Center in his story, the Reuse Plan that is being implemented for NTC was created by the city, Navy and the community, not McMillin. Yes, the plan for what would become of NTC was already in place and approved before McMillin was ever selected.

Just because the City Council selected a local company over the Florida-based Lennar as recommended by Mr. Morgan’s friends on the review panel, there is no reason to continue to criticize McMillin or Liberty Station, especially in light of the successes of this project. We challenge Mr. Morgan to compare our progress at Liberty Station to any other base reuse plan in the nation. It is widely hailed as a model for military base reuse. Representatives from recently BRAC’d communities around the country have visited Liberty Station to help in their own planning processes.

What Mr. Morgan continues to ignore is that whichever developer was selected to implement the city’s Reuse Plan, Lennar – which at the time did not have a long history of base conversions as Morgan claims, rather it had two it was working on – or McMillin, the Reuse Plan was the same. In fact, the fundamental difference between McMillin’s proposal for implementation of the city’s Reuse Plan and Lennar’s was that we carved out 22 buildings on 28 acres within NTC’s historic core to be dedicated to the creation of a civic, arts and cultural district, now known as the NTC Promenade.

Maybe Liberty Station isn’t what Neil Morgan wanted it to be. But it is what this community and City Council wanted it to be. Sprawling open spaces connecting retail, office, residential, educational, arts and cultural and recreational districts. A 46-acre waterfront park. A historic 9-hole golf course. It is a pedestrian friendly neighborhood and visitor destination. Why Mr. Morgan continues to mislead the public about this project is a mystery.

Liberty Station is becoming better than what it was envisioned to be in the city’s Reuse Plan. It is being built better than we promised it would. McMillin is not just a housing developer, as Morgan claims. We have a long history of building commercial, institutional, office buildings, schools, parks and of working on military base projects. Hundreds of families are now living at Liberty Station, hundreds of kids are going to school here, dozens of companies are doing business here and very soon 20 dance, music, visual and healing arts groups, as well as others, will be moving in to their new home at the NTC Promenade, San Diego’s next great destination for arts, culture, science and technology.

Mr. Morgan continues to let facts get in the way of his view of the story. And all this has done through the years is given comfort to the few that delayed the project and its public amenities, especially the NTC Foundation’s arts and cultural district – NTC Promenade.

Rather than talk about what could have been, which actually couldn’t have been, we continue to invite Mr. Morgan to come down to Liberty Station to see what a successful base conversion looks like.

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