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Port makes bayfront a priority Allison K. Sampite | Sat, May 21 2011 12:00 PM

Chula Vista Port Commissioner Ann Moore said that the San Diego Unified Port has made the South Bay power plant's demolition a top priority.

The port's focus is to separate the demolition from the more complicated and time-consuming task of its remediation, Moore said during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

Last month, port representatives met with Houston-based power company Dynegy, contracted by the city to tear down the plant and perform the bifurcated process of dismantling, remediation and finally removing the plant.

In March, the city of Chula Vista made a decision to cease negotiations with Dynegy to remove the power plant, following rumors of the company's bankruptcy.

Dynegy has some $21 million in escrow funds for the plant's decommissioning, dismantling and removal.

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda asked what would happen to the money if there were a bankruptcy proceeding.

Moore said there's been no indication to the port that Dynegy will be unable to perform their obligation.

"If the bankruptcy were to happen we still have the Duke guarantee that they would perform," she said.

Duke Energy was contracted in 2006 to replace the power plant with a cleaner facility.

"Chula Vista doesn't want to lose focus of the demolition of the power plant and moving forward with the development of the bayfront," Moore said.

Currently, all the necessary permits for the demolition work have been identified and port staff has been working with the California Coastal Commission and Dynegy to move forward with the power plant's removal.

Going forward, Chula Vista will issue a supervisory permit for demolition upon approval of the California Coastal development, which will take about two months. An asbestos abatement plan will remove any hazardous materials, which is anticipated to begin next May and take 10 months to complete.

The port will also oversee the current remediation activities of SDG&E on the site.

A few months ago the port hired a New York consultant as part of a larger effort by the city and port to increase activity on the bay. Each year the port funds local events to activate the bayfront and increase local revenues of its tenants from its marketing funds.

"The demolition is very important in the future of the development of that site because it increases the marketability in that area," Moore said. "The port wants to make sure the activities mirror the unique character of the community."

This year the port received 35 applications, including five from the South Bay region.

Moore said the lack of emphasis along the South Bay portion of the bayfront is due to a lack of community outreach. "My view is that the South Bay region needs to do more to try and capture some of those monies," she said.

The South Bay only captured 1 percent of the $428,000 marketing budget this year.

Moore will come back to council in the summer after working with community stakeholders including the South County Economic Development Council, chambers and the public to select events.

The now decommissioned power plant, that provided power to South Bay residents for 50 years, sits on approximately 550 acres of prime bayfront property that the Chula Vista City Council wants to see developed as soon as possible.

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