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Plans for the power plant's demise Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 23 2010 12:00 PM

Now that the South Bay's 50-year-old power plant has been determined unnecessary, elected officials are able to discuss future plans for Chula Vista's bayfront.

"It's been a long and winding road to get to this point," Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda said.

The decommissioning was planned 10 years ago, according to Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox. She said that once the plant and its industrial emissions are gone the surrounding wetlands will be restored.

According to Castaneda, there were a number of things the city had done and tried to do for investors and residents with the land. "I've always thought the last pillar holding the bayfront back was the power plant and now it's been put out of its misery," he said.

Last week the California Independent System Operation Commission stripped the plant of its reliability must run status, clearing the way for its demolition - and bayfront development. The plant was used specifically for emergency situations as a back-up generator.

Castaneda said the plant's removal could have an exponential increase in bayfront properties. "It's an economic benefit aesthetically, economically and environmentally," Castaneda said.

Cox said removing the plant opens the door to establishing a date when the city can begin to restore habitat, open the waterfront for recreational uses and create quality jobs on the bayfront.

"Now that we've got a certified EIR and master plan we are on our way ... the word is going to get out," Cox said. Cox said the project would bring thousands of new jobs to the South Bay as well as millions of dollars in annual revenues.

The Chula Vista bayfront master plan was initiated in 2002 and is an effort of the Port, the city of Chula Vista and Pacifica Companies.

Its goal is to create a world-class bayfront that includes a resort hotel and conference center, housing, commercial and office development, parks, habitat preserves, open space, recreation areas, retail shops, cultural facilities and maritime uses.

The plan is expected to largely pay for itself with taxes, rent and business sales. The next step is to collaborate with the Port to pursue the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant.

"Demolition of the plant makes that property available and realizes the dreams and hopes of folks in the South Bay," said John Gilmore, communications manager for the Port.

Michael Meacham, director of conservation and environmental services for the city of Chula Vista, said the city has worked since 1996 to develop the revenue to make the investment to remove the power lines, which happened last December.

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