Opinion: Will Hotel Project ‘McConnellize’ Public Property?

On May 12, 2013, the Record Searchlight published a letter from Mike Warren, CEO of Turtle Bay, to his employees. We were uncertain about some of his statements and wrote him a letter asking for clarity regarding his request for wanting more property than what the hotel will require to build.

Mike Warren, Turtle Bay CEO

We wanted to know why he told his employees that the hotel in itself, will not make Turtle Bay self-sustainable, but only cover maintenance and salaries. We believe the public has been lead to believe that first, the Sundial Bridge, and now, the hotel, would be the answer to Turtle Bay’s financial concerns, by increasing income from tourism. We wanted to know what he meant by…”no means does it get us to our goal.”

We wanted to know what his goal was. We asked him to be transparent and straight forward and respond to our letter in writing by May 31, 2013. He did not, but has suggested we meet with him.

The McConnell Foundation and Turtle Bay are requesting to buy the entire 60 acres of public property that includes the rodeo grounds, the Redding Convention Center and fountain, public parking, an outdoor stage, the Veterans Memorial Grove and picnic areas. They are asking for all 60 acres …oh, by the way, 20 will do, when the hotel requires 5.

They say they need this much land to …”prevent the prevailing wage issue.” Apparently paying prevailing wages hasn’t been an issue in the past, as Turtle Bay Museum, the Sundial Bridge and the McConnell offices were all built by paying prevailing wages.

It appears the real issue is not about paying prevailing wages, but actually a disguise for trying to obtain as much land as possible.

Turtle Bay was presented as a self-sustaining project. That hasn’t happened. Next came the Sundial Bridge as the financial savior. That isn’t happening either, and now the hotel. What next?

We believe that this prime 60 acres is a controversial issue again, because it hasn’t been master planned. It has no Master Plan, no Specific Plan, no general plan within the General Plan … not even an idea of a plan. If there is a “plan”, it certainly hasn’t been openly discussed and presented to our community. To prevent this controversy from happening over and over again, we think this is absolutely the right time for specifically planning that area … the people’s property.

For many years people of our community have been concerned about possibly losing this property to The McConnell Foundation. We just didn’t know when it would happen, or how. Our citizens have been asking for a Master Plan at meetings, public forums and in editorials.

Mmbers of the Planning Commission and CSAC have requested establishing a Task Force to explore a Master Plan for the entire campus, to no avail.

We can’t let this public property slip away from us. It’s ours and belongs to our entire community. We deserve to have straightforward information and our questions answered with complete transparency, regardless of who wants to purchase the property. We encourage the public to get involved, be involved and stay involved. Public opinion can make a difference.

Take every opportunity to respectfully voice your opinion and stay strong in your convictions.

We are concerned citizens regarding the well-being of the Civic Auditorium and the surrounding property. We are not connected in any way to Turtle Bay, other than being members.

We believe Turtle Bay and the McConnell Foundation are requesting to purchase more of the people’s property, 20-60 acres, rather than the 5 acres required to build the hotel. A further concern is stated in CEO, Mike Warren’s letter to his employees, that the 5 acres is not enough to sustain Turtle Bay.

First came Turtle Bay, then the Sundial Bridge, now a hotel. What’s next?

Each project was identified as making Turtle Bay self-sufficient. Obviously, that is not the case. Is it ever going to be self-sufficient?

A similar project was established in Ashland: Science Works. There is a foundation that is the vehicle used for Science Works’ sustainability. Turtle Bay needs to look for other ways to sustain its viability. It is a great asset to the community, however, giving up more land to the McConnell Foundation is not the answer to the issue of self-sustainability.

Click here to visit Science Works.

Contact Valerie Long at 246-9762 or valglong@gmail.com, and Ginne Mistal at  gmistal@sbcglobal.net or 524-3163.

Valerie Long and Ginne Mistal – Redding


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3 Responses

  1. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Very interesting and informative article. I like the way it was respectfully presented.. thank you to both Ginny Mistal and Valerie Long for the many years of service to the community in posing public questions like the ons above.

  2. Avatar Karen C says:

    I'm trying hard to figure out this hotel. Putting myself as a traveler on I-5 why would I want to book a room at a hotel at Turtle Bay. Maybe it is my first time there, and feel that being near there would be convenient?

    We have had a membership to Turtle Bay for years, mainly because the grandkids love to go there to play on the kids stuff, see the butterflies, but really, the birds have been their vary favorite all through the years. TheLego's have been of interest for these two scientific minded kids, they love the gift shop, and the wooden Shasta Dam feature, when it is working. Turtle Bay is a great concept, but it did not live up to what I was expecting. After all, there was much to say in the paper….that is was going to rival thMontereyry Bay Aquarium.

    As far as the beautiful Sundial Bridge goes…it is indeed a beautiful piece of work and engineering, however the City is not able to keep it as clean as it should be kept. Dogs cannot cross it in summer months as the glass gets too hot. The glass is not kept clean, and it seems the beautiful white tiles are being vandalized. Where are the security cameras? That much money spent on a bridge and no security?

    I don't know how a hotel is going to help, unless it has a destination restaurant, entertainment and ambiance that is different and out of the ordinary. Is Turtle Bay enough of a draw to support the hotel? Has anyone thought about this side of it? All I am hearing is the hotel will help support Turtle Bay. I don't think so.

  3. Avatar teco_mac says:

    There is too little public space like this area in our community to allow this development to take place! Why not build the hotel on the North- west corner of the Arboretum on land that the McConnell F. already owns? That would actually benefit that area and avoid forever congesting the beautiful area of the Turtle Bay.