It took almost six years, but Concord on Tuesday night finalized its vision for what the Naval Weapons Station will look like for future generations.
By approving the area plan and incorporating it into Concord's 30-year general plan, the council laid a blueprint for a wide swath of land that will add more than 12,000 homes, 28,000 people and 3,500 acres of open space to the city.
As early as next year, Concord could open small parcels south of Bailey Road, including hiking paths, said reuse director Mike Wright.
The plan was lauded by environmentalists and labor and community activists Tuesday. Almost 70 percent of the land would remain open space, and the city plans to build a park by Willow Pass Road and Mt. Diablo Creek three times larger than Golden Gate Park.
The approved plan, however, had a small but vocal opposition. One resident who lives near the planned communities said a major roadway would be built behind her house, deflating its value and increasing noise and traffic in her neighborhood.
"I wish we could ensure there were no traffic problems, but we can't," Councilman Dan Helix said. "We had a huge amount of citizen input and it's a good plan."
A major Concord-based developer also raised doubts, saying the project "is not economically realistic."
"As currently proposed, I don't see how the project you are considering is even remotely economical or marketable," wrote Albert Seeno Jr. He argued the plan
Wright defended the plan, saying open space was critical to protect environmental interests. All the city's economic tests show the project would attract developers, Wright said, particularly because mitigation for its development has been achieved.
"It is big, it is complicated and if you were proposing to do this at the height or boom of the real estate market it would still have been a challenging endeavor," Wright said. "The models we run continue to indicate it is an economically viable project to pursue."
The next major step is in the Navy's hands. The federal government will start its own environmental study as early as next month.
"By June 2013 we might be able to see some smaller, cleaned-up parcels of land ready for transfer," Wright said.
The start of construction is still at least five years away, Wright said. In the meantime, design plans and specifics will be ironed out.
The council members also approved becoming the successor to the redevelopment agency, meaning the city will remain in control while it winds down those programs. The city anticipates losing $7.5 million in redevelopment funds and $2.4 million from its general fund.
The loss of redevelopment funds will delay the build-out of the base lands.
The governor balanced the state budget by eliminating redevelopment agencies, sending those funds to schools.
Concord faced losing 45 downtown events, including the Music and Market concerts and the Fourth of July parade, because of the elimination of redevelopment funds. City officials, however, said Tuesday they can save at least a portion of the Todos Santos Plaza concerts, the parade and the holiday tree lighting with private sponsorships and donations.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.