The number one takeaway from the city’s first public survey on developing its waterfront was maintaining Mission Raceway Park.
Out of a total of 588 people who participated in the survey, the most common desire expressed was keeping the racetrack in its current location, and using it to enhance the waterfront.
“We’ve had messaging saying the racetrack is going to stay,” said Coun. Jag Gill. “I think our messaging needs to get a little bit stronger to justify that.”
As planners move into Phase 2 of creating the waterfront’s masterplan this Fall, three land-use concepts will be discussed. The current direction is to leave the track as it stands, said Gerald Schlesiger, project manager. The draft plan is expected to be complete by Spring, 2022.
Protecting the racetrack was a high priority in nearly every summary of the public’s response to survey questions. Concern was expressed about potential conflicts between housing and noise complaints.
The European city-state of Monaco was even listed as a good example for planners of an existing waterfront racetrack.
In the city’s conclusion, they state that residents view it as an “essential part of the community and a key tourist attraction,” and building mutual trust with the raceway and its fans will be an important step to ensure broad community support.
The amount of focus that was put on the racetrack in the public’s response frustrated Coun. Cal Crawford. He said it’s too early to get into absolutes, and people seem to think the racetrack is in danger.
“We never said it was going to close,” he said. “Yet there was a slant there … Rather than being creative and giving us thoughts of what would fit down there generally.”
Two other key takeaways from the survey were opening access to the waterfront for recreational activities, and creating a vibrant community for local residents.
Respondents want to see the waterfront opened up for walking, boating, fishing, with more waterfront trails, boardwalks, boat launches, piers, accessible greenspace, picnic tables, camping areas, and playgrounds. Many also recognized the need to protect ecologically sensitive areas.
The inclusion of shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, markets, jobs, attractions, and event spaces were often mentioned as ways to create an active and vibrant community. “Big box retail” businesses were generally unwanted among respondents, who instead want to see an emphasis on supporting locally owned shops and entrepreneurs.
The survey had 15 components that respondents could rank from four themes (environment/health, social/community, culture/arts, employment).
Environmental themes topped the list, with “revitalization of the river and habitat” and “parks and open space connections to the waterfront” both ranking high as of high or moderate importance.
The social theme of “diverse outdoor spaces” received the most support overall, with nearly all respondents listing it as important.
Arts and culture themes were generally seen as less important by respondents, and housing and maintaining industrial-land uses were both contentious issues.
Mayor Paul Horn stressed the 296 acres of waterfront land will see a mixture of uses, the only questions are around percentages and locations, details that won’t be discussed for “many, many years.”
“That size will allow for a lot more than people may actually understand,” Horn said. “Including industrial uses, for example, near a racetrack, including places where people can live residentially … arts and recreation facilities and parks and neat natural spaces.”