No Ord-inary Solution

The Ultimate in Mixed-Use Plans for East Garrison Calls for Native American Religious Rites, Police Chases and an Art Colony

by Kathleen Scalise

Three plans for Fort Ord that meld varying needs -- from police emergency training to Native American pow-wows -- were presented Feb. 21 by a Berkeley design team working with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Known as the Fort Ord-East Garrison, the 700 acres overlooking the Salinas Valley sparked a controversy last summer when police agencies, an artists' colony, Native Americans and an equestrian program all staked claims. The parcel is one of the remaining portions of Fort Ord for which planning is not yet resolved. Because of the disputed use of the land, the National Endowment for the Arts selected it as a case "to show how these people could coexist," said Donlyn Lyndon, chair of Berkeley's architecture department and a member of the design team.

At the same time, the fragile landscape required planning from the ground up, driven by good stewardship rather than job creation and economic forces, as has driven other base conversion plans, said Lyndon.

In addition to Lyndon, team members from the College of Environmental Design include Dean Harrison Fraker, Professor Peter Bosselmann, Lecturer Lisa Findley and assistant coordinators Brian Laczko and Thomas Kronemeyer.

As planning began last September, competing interests were immediately apparent, said Lyndon.

Monterey Peninsula College operates a public safety education program, linked with the sheriff's office, that needs a police training center.

Arts Habitat, a group interested in securing space for artists, wants live/work spaces.

Native Americans desire ground for cultural and religious rites. The Berkeley group gathered representatives from each concern and began a planning process.

Once the largest military reservation in the U.S., Fort Ord was an Army training center until recently. Located northeast of Monterey, the flood plain and agricultural land of the East Garrison is dotted with oaks and marked by a sharp rise eroded into ravines.

"This is California land, very easily destroyed by recontouring and trampling down the grasses," said Lyndon.

After meeting with a community facilitator, "we wound up with a set of things people had to say about the place," said Lyndon, from which the design team developed three alternative plans -- from more modest development to more intense.

Maximum development would allow for about 2,500 inhabitants and some light industry and research on 200 acres of the site. Under the most modest plan, only existing buildings would be retained, leaving the land largely undisturbed.

The players "...did come to an agreement that they could cohabit the space and part of our job was to help them see how," said Lyndon.

Solutions included moving police training to a remote spot -- and mixing other police educational facilities with artist galleries and small business start-ups. The plans have been forwarded to Monterey County to develop a final proposal.


Copyright 1997, The Regents of the University of California.
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