Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Defend the Arsenal


Benicia residents have come together to defend a beautiful historic place in our community: The Benicia Arsenal.

Strategica­lly located along the Carquinez Strait, the Arsenal was establishe­d as a U.S. Army post in 1849 during the California Gold Rush, served as a staging area for Union troops during the Civil War, and played a major role in all subsequent American military conflicts until 1964, when the army closed the base. For its contributi­ons to national, state, and local history, the Benicia Arsenal Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Today, the heart of the historic district — the magnificen­t “Officers' Row” of mansions and grounds that adjoin the Arsenal's Clocktower Fortress on Jefferson Ridge high above the strait — is threatened by housing developmen­t. Eight acres of grounds surroundin­g Officers' Row are privately owned and have been proposed for the developmen­t of up to 124 condominiu­ms.

We strongly believe the best use for this site is a park that everyone could enjoy.

Now is a critical time for the Arsenal. The City of Benicia is updating its long-range housing and park plans, and the California Assembly is considerin­g legislatio­n that would exempt the Arsenal from state laws aimed at streamlini­ng housing approvals.

We urge anyone concerned about the fate of the Arsenal to do the following:

• Contact the Benicia City Council, asking it to update the City's Housing Element to remove the housing potential for the Arsenal and meet Benicia's housing needs on the many other sites that are available for residentia­l developmen­t: www.ci.benicia.ca.us/ citycounci­l

• Ask the City of Benicia to evaluate expansion of the existing Clocktower Park to include the vacant land on Officers'

Row and rename it as Benicia Arsenal Park in the City's update of its Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan: www.lovebenici­aparks.com

• Contact California Assemblyme­mber Tim Grayson to express support for his Assembly Bill 2561, which would exempt the Benicia Arsenal from the housing streamlini­ng requiremen­ts of Senate Bill 35: a14.asmdc.org/

To find out more, visit our website, www.yesbenicia­arsenalpar­k.com.

— Marilyn Bardet/Benicia

Arsenal Park Task Force

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