Emergency council meeting to be held today at 1:00 p.m.
By Allen Payton
On Monday, Concord Mayor Edi Birsan sent a letter to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer outlining his opposition to a proposed detention center at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station for as many as 47,000 illegal immigrants, who will be housed there pending their court dates. (See related article.)
Birsan reminded Spencer of Concord’s work “with the Navy for the last 12 years” and spending “millions of tax payers dollars (both federal and local) in negotiations for the sale of the property.” The city has plans for as many as 12,000 homes on the land south of Highway 4.
He also pointed out the challenges with environmental cleanup of the former nuclear weapons that were stored at the site.
An emergency meeting of the Concord City Council has been called for 1:00 p.m., today in the Council Chambers at 1950 Parkside Drive.
Following is the complete letter from Birsan:
June 25, 2018
The Honorable Richard Spencer
Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000
Dear Mr. Secretary,
On behalf of the Concord Community, Concord City Council and Local Reuse Authority, and as Mayor of the City of Concord, I am requesting your assistance in obtaining factual information regarding a draft Navy memo reportedly considering the placement of a detention center housing more than 47,000 immigrants at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS). Concord residents and leaders have numerous questions about the detention center proposal and we would welcome you or an authorized representative to come to a City Council meeting to clarify the situation, including the decision making process, current status and timing.
The City of Concord has worked in partnership with the Navy for the last 12 years through the BRAC process and spent millions of tax payers dollars (both federal and local) in negotiations for the sale of the property, planning for the site, and environmental permitting and remediation of the site. Our current negotiations with Navy staff anticipate first transfers of property over the next few months. Property that is not being transferred in the first transfers lack clearance from the federal government as “suitable” for transfer, which means that these lands are not suitable for public habitation either.
The CNWS is neither rural nor remote, rather it is directly adjacent to existing Concord neighborhoods and the largest active Army ammunition and explosives depot at Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO) on the West Coast.
Below, I’ve outlined these concerns a bit more.
• The location of the CNWS directly adjacent to our residential community and to MOTCO.
• Significant acreage within the CNWS is still undergoing assessment and clean-up of Navy contamination and is not suitable for transfer nor human occupation.
• The City and the Navy have been working together over the last 12-years through the BRAC process and we are within months of transferring property to the City and the East Bay Regional Parks District for development of parkland and housing and commercial uses.
• The CNWS currently has no useful infrastructure to provide water, sewer, or electricity.
These concerns, individually and collectively, make the CNWS unsuitable for consideration as a detention facility.
BRAC Process and Property Transfer
Over 12 years ago the City of Concord was designated as the Local Reuse Authority (LRA) under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) and began a partnership with the Navy to facilitate the transfer and redevelopment of the CNWS. This partnership has spent millions of local and Federal taxpayers’ dollars to engage the local community in a vision for the project; prepare the necessary environmental assessments, pursue the required resource agency permits; and secure a Master Developer willing to plan and finance the creation of jobs and housing at the site. To now withdraw from that process and shift to a transfer enabling a detention center would negate all those honorable efforts and reflect poorly on future negotiations here and elsewhere for the Navy.
Concord’s Historic Background
This July 4th Concord will be also celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding. When the nearby town was totally destroyed by the Hayward Fault earthquake, Don Salvio Pacheco and his Mexican-American family initiated the plans for the city, and gave their land away for a $1 to the survivors and refugees of the destroyed town so that they may build together a new community which the people quickly called Concord, as in living in concordance with one another.
Future Collaboration and Information Sharing
Concord residents would appreciate any information the Navy can provide us with regards to the draft memo identifying the CNWS as a potential detention center or future considerations of this concept. We have appreciated the Navy’s close collaboration with us on our efforts to plan for the reuse and redevelopment of the CNWS. Clearly, we do not think the CNWS is an appropriate location for a detention center and will gladly provide the federal government with any information they may require in this decision making process.
Thank you for your consideration on these matters. I repeat, again, our offer for you or your authorized representative to come to the City Council and explain in detail where the Navy intends to go in this regard.
Mayor of the City of Concord, California.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Kamala Harris
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Phyliss Bayer
State Senator Steve Glazer
State Assemblymember Tim Grayson
County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff
Concord City Council and Staff