Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mare Island Naval Shipyard's conversion to civilian use is going "tremendously well, stated Tony Gallegos, regional director of the Office of Econ Adj

Article Launched: 02/04/2005 07:28:13 AM

Agent approves progress of Mare Island conversion

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen/Times-Herald, Vallejo

Mare Island Naval Shipyard, as seen in 1997, has been undergoing a conversion for civilian use. A federal agent recently said the progress was going "tremendously well." (Reporter file)

The Mare Island Naval Shipyard's conversion to civilian use is going "tremendously well," according to a visiting federal agent sent to check on the project's progress.

Tony Gallegos, regional director of the Office of Economic Adjustment, toured Mare Island and several other former Bay Area military bases Wednesday and Thursday. Gallegos said he will report his findings to his superiors upon returning to Washington, D.C.

"We're here getting an update on what the city's doing with Mare Island, and from our perspective, it's tremendous," Gallegos said. "There's a lot of development going on all over the island. There doesn't seem to be any place on the island where something isn't happening."

Gallegos' agency advises communities impacted by base closures, including 29 such bases in California. "Our mission is to provide technical and financial assistance to communities dealing with the closure or realignment of military bases," Gallegos said.

Gallegos, who's been following the Mare Island conversion from the beginning, said he is impressed with the pace at which the island is coming back. "The progress that's been made just since last year is significant," he said, crediting much of that to the vision of development partner Lennar Mare Island and Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli.

"Lennar has been a huge asset," Gallegos said. "The important thing is that the citizens like the plan. But it also needs to be realistic, and I get the sense that in Mare Island's case, it is. And a lot of that has to do with the leadership of Mayor Intintoli.

"When base closures are announced, there's a lot of opposition by citizens and elected officials. But Mayor Intintoli realized that the city needed to see it as an opportunity and act on that. That's leadership. And Vallejo is in a position to take advantage of the market forces at work in the Bay Area. It's an ideal location."

Gallegos' team also visited the Alameda Naval Air Station, Treasure Island and Hunters Point, and planned tours to Sacramento's Mather and McClellan air force bases.

Roger Kemp, Vallejo's new city manager, said that Gallegos indicated his team is going to use elements of what Vallejo is doing on Mare Island as a model for other military base conversions.

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