Letters to the Editor: Friday Aug. 7, 2015

 

Island Company response to CESA statements

Recently some writings and exhibits were distributed within our community regarding planning work that the Island Company has been involved with regarding the location of the new Vons store.

This information, apparently authored by a member of a group calling itself “CESA,” also included a copy of some planning concepts that were prepared by a consultant that the Island Company hired in early 2014 to help us think about various alternatives.

Island Company response to CESA statements

Recently some writings and exhibits were distributed within our community regarding planning work that the Island Company has been involved with regarding the location of the new Vons store.

This information, apparently authored by a member of a group calling itself “CESA,” also included a copy of some planning concepts that were prepared by a consultant that the Island Company hired in early 2014 to help us think about various alternatives.

The CESA note included many false statements and misrepresentations that I feel compelled to correct.

First, CESA suggested that the Island Company and Vons have represented the current planned location as the “only site available” and that the Company has kept the community “in the dark” about other solutions.  This is false.

We have consistently said that this is the only site that works from our perspective and from that of Vons.  As to the suggestion that the planning process hasn’t been part of the public dialogue, the Island Company and the local grocery store operator have been evaluating plans for a new store in the Tour Plaza for over 50 years and these plans have long been public knowledge.

In the early 1960’s, the Company and Safeway developed concept plans for a mixed-use development in the Plaza that would be anchored by a new Safeway store.

The Company’s 1989 15-year plan—a plan that was widely discussed in public forums—contemplated a grocery store site in the same location as the one currently proposed by Vons.

In 2001, Vons was working on another mixed-use development concept that would place a new, larger Vons store—also in the same Tour Plaza location as that currently proposed.

In a July 13, 2001 news story the Catalina Islander reported on this and Island Company personnel were quoted. While none of these ideas ever came to fruition the planning efforts of studying a new grocery store site at the Island Tour Plaza have continued and have always been part of the informal public dialogue.

Therefore, not only is it false that the company’s multiple studies of locating a new grocery store in the Island Tour Plaza area were kept a secret, it is a misrepresentation of history.

Of course we evaluated multiple ideas for locating a new Vons store.  We couldn’t represent to ourselves, to Vons or to the Community that the current location is the best option if we hadn’t evaluated other concepts. In our view, all of the discarded options had fatal flaws—either severe operating problems that didn’t work for Vons, impacts to the surrounding environment that couldn’t be overcome, or basic economic infeasibility.

The second falsehood in this communication from CESA is that it portrayed our Consultant’s drawings and narrative as being my work and my words.  That is also not true.

This was entirely the work product of a planning consultant that we engaged to help us study various options for locating a new grocery store in the Plaza.

Like so many others in his field, our consultant took some license with the assignment and, in the end, we didn’t agree with many of his ideas.

The third misrepresentation from CESA is that we have plans to relocate Golf Gardens.

We are a Planning Department and our job is to constantly prepare and evaluate new ideas.

The Tour Plaza concepts that we’ve been reviewing for the past couple of years are no different than the brainstorming that’s occurred over the past 50 years at the Island Tour Plaza site.

They are ideas that are put on paper that, for various reasons, aren’t ultimately pursued.

We, as a Company, have never seriously discussed relocating Golf Gardens—and there are no plans to do so now.

While we respect the rights of others to disagree with our opinions, we don’t believe that it is right for someone to try to make their case using inflammatory statements that are, quite simply, false!

After much work, study, planning and more, we have concluded that the proposed Vons application that is currently before the Council is the best it can be.

We agree with the Planning Commission and with the majority of Avalon residents that support this new store—at this new location—and urge the Council to allow this much-needed, exciting, new project to move forward

 Kris M. Wilhelm

Senior Vice President, Design and Development,

Santa Catalina Island Company
Top Ten reasons why Islanders are willing to capitulate to Vons

10. Larger aisles to accommodate wide berth shoppers walking three abreast.

9.  Forty-two varieties of frozen pizza.

8. Eliminates need to shop at mom and pop stores.

7. Bright lights operating 24/7 like Las Vegas with more lottery machines.

6. Larger variety of bottled water for showering

5.  Dammit, I deserve an overtown supermarket! Where else am I going to get my saffron for paella?

4. I rent from the Santa Catalina Island Co., work for the Island Co., or am recognized on the street by the Island Co., so I can’t comment.

3. Why should I care, I live on the hill?

2.  Ships will be able to navigate by Vons’ lights, like a lighthouse, but without the charm.

1.  Can be seen from outer space for use by Google maps.

Frances Wenger

Long Beach/Avalon

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