Opinion: Don’t Leave A Hole In Natomas’ Future With Arena Deal

BY RON DWYER-VOSS
SPECIAL TO THE NATOMAS BUZZ

Open letter to Councilmembers Cohn and Ashby,

I am writing to ask what you are doing to make sure the proposed arena deal does not leave a major blight in Natomas, home to nearly 25% of the city’s population. I am particularly concerned that the financing seems to expect Sleep Train Arena to continue to operate in a market with a new arena a few miles away. It seems doubtful that in that circumstance that the old arena would get much use, and therefore would primarily be a big, empty, neglected parking lot in the neighborhood. Who will manage that facility? Without regular use and strong management, it will become and eye-sore at best, and a source of crime at worst.

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Ron Dwyer-Voss

If it is torn down, what is the city’s strategy for re-use of the area? Previous deals all came with a “commitment” from the Mayor and City Manager to alternative use strategies for Natomas, but I don’t believe one was ever developed. Is there a strategy here? If not I would point you to any number of 1960s “urban renewal” projects that left neighborhoods in ruins because there was no long term strategy in place.

Finally, I am concerned that the city is giving away the 100 acres north of Sleep Train Arena in the proposed Downtown Arena deal. Why so quick to give up the largest publicly owned asset in Natomas? Is there a plan for what the developer would put there? The 100 acres would the most flexible part of any re-use strategy. What prevents the developer from throwing up some more boxy ‘stone-henge’ structures? What incentive is there to create a true, living-wage employment center at that site, such as a hospital or educational center?

Please do not vote for this arena deal until there is a plan for the existing arena site and adjascent 100 acres. If you do you will simply be filling in one hole in the city (Downtown Plaza) by creating another.

Sincerely,
Ron

Ron Dwyer-Voss is a 16-year Natomas resident, parent and former Natomas Unified School District school board member (2000-2008). Opinion pieces and letters-to-the-editor may be submitted to [email protected] for consideration.