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Email from Curry dated 9/5/2007:

Hi All,

For the many of you who did not live here in the 60's I think you will find Dick Spotswood's column below to be fascinating. I have lived here since 1959 and proposals such as those in his column are reasons why I became involved in local and County politics.

Something that Dick forgot was the 27 fully lit tennis courts that were proposed to be built stepping up the hillside of that beautiful area on Tennessee Valley Road called Oakwood Valley.Even the thought of the humongous retaining walls is enough to give you goose bumps! This was in the 70's and Tam Valley was instrumental in convincing Trust for Public Land to buy the land while the County negotiated with the Federal Government to purchase the land as part of the GGNRA which it now is.

I wish I could explain why the County seems to now be going in a different direction. Urbanization is the direction and this is not something the residents want. And why is the Mill Valley Council proposing what they are for Miller Avenue? I cannot understand. Many of us have worked long and hard to make Marin what it is today and none of us can explain or understand...

Anyway, enjoy Dick's column below.
CURRY

PS-- and let us not forget the proposed road over the Headlands to West Marin --another boondoggle defeated---

Dick Spotswood: How Marin averted development disasters

Marin Independent Journal 9/01/2007

EVEN VETERAN Marin residents tend to forget how close our county came to being a very different place. A review of occasions when Marin easily could have made some very wrong decisions or fate could have gone the other way reminds us that our future remains bright and green only if voters remain vigilant.

- "A Little Bit of Daly City."
That's what West Marin and the Ross Valley would have been if Marin's old guard had their way. The public was told that West Marin would grow into a city of 100,000 and steps needed be taken to accommodate this expected new housing. The 1960s-era planners foresaw west county as a new city centered around the soon-to-be metropolis of Point Reyes Station. It was all to be linked by a six-lane Sir Francis Drake Freeway from Highway 101 to Tomales Bay. Popular revulsion at the notion led to an environmental and political revolution when Marinites realized they could control their own future. The "last best place" was saved by instituting strict zoning, limiting land use to agriculture and housing to one unit every 60 acres.

- "The Tiburon-Angel Island-Fisherman Wharf Bay Bridge."
Ever wonder why the road from Highway 101 to Tiburon and Belvedere is a state highway? In the 1950s, State Route 131 was acquired by Caltrans as the approach for a second bay crossing to relieve projected overcrowding on the Golden Gate Brigde. Tiburon Boulevard was to be converted into a full freeway connecting the new span to Highway 101. The plan died in the mid-1960s. That was fortunate considering that Golden Gate Bridge traffic peaked in the 1990s. Tiburon, however, reaps a windfall as the state continues to maintain Tiburon Boulevard.

- "Shamu, The Killer Whale."
The early 1960s saw a serious effort to turn the west shore of Mill Valley's Richardson Bay into a site for a new Marine World. The motive was, as one council member said, "To put these public lands back on the public payroll." An aqua stadium, exhibit halls and parking lots were planned in conjunction with a 127-boat yacht basin. That harbor site was dredged and its remains form the shoreline of today's Bayfront Park. In an era when massive development meant "progress," there was initial popular support for the aquatic amusement center. In 1964, wiser minds prevailed. By the 1970s, the site was acquired for a park, increasing residential property values and generating tax revenue far greater that any fish show ever could.

- "Concord meets the Golden Gate."
In 1965, by one vote, Marin's Board of Supervisors approved a development called Marincello. It was a developer's dream. With housing for 25,000, including 16-story apartment towers, restaurants, hotels and light industrial uses, Gulf Oil-owned Marincello would have sprawled Concord-like over the Marin Headlands from the Golden Gate to Fort Cronkhite Beach. It was approved, said then-Supervisor Tom Storer, because "We need to squarely face the reality of handling twice the population of Marin by 1990." Supervisors reversed themselves and torpedoed the development scheme in 1972. Thanks to a $6.5 million grant, Marincello's 2,135 acres were purchased and the site now is the heart of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Columnist Dick Spotswood of Mill Valley shares his views on local politics every Sunday in the IJ. His e-mail address is Spotswood@comcast.net

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