Rep. Panetta puts the pressure on the feds to let locals take over the Pacific Grove NOAA site.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building on Point Pinos in Pacific Grove has been rescued from the auction block this summer, thanks to a powerful ally of the citizens’ group working to transform the government building into an oceanography and arts museum. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, persuaded the General Services Administration to remove the building from a bulk sale with 11 other federal properties; however, it’s still up for sale at a price yet to be announced by the agency.
Panetta is continuing to try to persuade the GSA to donate the building to a local nonprofit group, much like the group behind COAST – Center for Ocean, Art, Science and Technology. In a letter to the agency on June 17, he took the GSA to task for not making it clear to potential buyers the “strict local land-use planning restrictions” associated with the property, less than a block from the ocean.
Given those restrictions, Panetta wrote, “I am not confident that any private buyer will be able to uphold these provisions.”
That the property could still be sold to a private developer hasn’t stopped the COAST group from proceeding to accept the building, says Chuck Greene, one of its leaders. They are currently in negotiations with the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, the descendants of Point Pinos’ original residents, on a memorandum of understanding stating the interests of both the tribe and COAST. They also continue to gain support: On June 28, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History members voted to support the COAST museum, joining the City Council and Chamber of Commerce in casting statements in support of the concept.