Wednesday, Jan. 31 2007 | Re: “Roberts, Peace Spark Waterfront Debate.”

As a 16-year downtown enthusiast and resident, no one is more enthusiastic than me about the dream of open park space, an opera house, or any number of visionary ideas for the current Navy Broadway Complex land. Local residents and politicians alike have been dreaming about the possibilities for this, now off limits to the public land, for decades.

Here is the challenge; a dream is just a dream until it connects with reality — financial reality. I’m all for dreaming, but dreams, without a financing plan for implementation, do not get the residents of San Diego any closer to being able to enjoy one square inch of the Navy Broadway Complex land. These pie-in-the-sky ideas simply take the focus off of Manchester’s reality-based Pacific Gateway Project which will provide new offices and hotels to downtown — ultimately creating new jobs for workers, economic prosperity, public improvements to the neighborhood, shops and restaurants, a museum, and yes, park space. Manchester’s Pacific Gateway Project is the only reality-based project that actually opens up Navy Broadway land to the public.

When I moved downtown in the 1991, I too was a visionary with dreams of what is possible for our waterfront, now I’ve become a realist, knowing that grand ideas in San Diego that don’t involve private investment, just don’t get done in our conservative, tax adverse city.

We live in a city and county that is underwater in debt, a city that doesn’t even have the money to upgrade its existing Civic Center let alone build and opera house. This is a city that can’t even afford to keep the street lights on in front of my condo, and thoughtful people really believe that an opera house or a giant park will be built on the Navy Broadway site? I understand that the Port of San Diego is not a taxing authority and that the only way that we will see public improvements on our waterfront is for the port to receive new lease revenue from the private/public partnerships. Yes, upon completion, Doug Manchester’s Pacific Gateway Project will affect my own view, and in exchange, I like all residents and visitors, will be able to enjoy the new restaurants, shops, museum and park space that will become the Pacific Gateway project.

It is time for the citizens of this city to add a little realism to their dreams, and recommend alternatives backed by well thought out, and realistic financing plans. Until that time, I will be supporting the current Pacific Gateway Plan, with the belief that, in the not too distant future, I will have new restaurants and shops to enjoy with friends, and a real park for which I can dream the day away.

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