Slow but steady marked the progress of our culturally diverse City with the 2000 new development of the Walgreen Center on Reservation Road and Vista Del Camino in Central Marina. The Center also includes the Community Bank of California. Additionally Marina is proud to have branch offices of the Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual Banks. Other new financial businesses joined the community over the past five years as well with Edward Jones Securities being the latest. Also in the year 2000 the Marina Kmart closed as the company downsized across the county.
On October 30, 2000 the City’s General Plan was approved. The City of Marina also passed an Urban Growth Boundary Initiative, which encouraged infill growth and redevelopment of the former Fort Ord prior to developing the City to the north. Public workshops identified issues from the General Plan and examined the impact of growth. Passage of the initiative known as Measure E, assured future public services would keep pace with future development. After considering various parcels, Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) settled on a location in Central Marina purchasing 3 acres for their future Countywide Bus Terminal in May of 2001.
Currently MST and the City are working together to provide a mixed use, retail, and residential combination to be known as the “Marina Central Village”. The City’s first mixed use project was developed in 2001 with popular national franchises Starbucks, Papa Murphy’s and Quiznos. City Council initiated the formation of the Ad Hock Marina Downtown Committee with the intent to revitalize Marina’s existing retail commercial area. The Committee was comprised of a variety of Marina residents, business owners, city commissioners, and other interested parties who met regularly from September of 2001 to April of 2002. In joining other Cities for marketing and promotional programs, Marina raised its profile with Council direction for participation in the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Small Business Incubator also opened its doors in September of 2001 in the UCMBEST Center, 3180 Imjin Road and in 2003 began operating as the Marina Technology Cluster. Three new multi use playing fields in the Preston Park neighborhood were rehabilitated and enhanced complete with team seating, a snack bar and scoreboards. Numerous sports teams including Marina Pony Baseball, Marina Soccer League and the Pop Warner, Jaguars Football team, use the playing fields almost daily. In the same year the City of Marina’s Community Center was remodeled and the audiovisual system in the City Council Chambers was upgraded.
The Ad Hoc Marina Downtown Committee Report was presented to City Council in April 2002 with a strong commitment to Downtown Vitalization. That year also saw the opening of the Holiday Inn Express where visitors enjoy modern lodging as well as meeting space for small conferences and many community groups and organizations.
At about this time the City’s transition began from the status quo of the bedroom community of former Fort Ord to seeking their own identity and implementing Marina’s vision for the future. Early in 2002 the City Manager of 13 years took another position in Porterville CA which marked the beginning of administrative changes for the City’s reorganization. Following John Longley’s departure, the City Manager’s position was filled temporarily for five months before the Council appointed Anthony J. Altfeld in August of 2002. Community activity also began to change that year with the first Friday in December Holiday Tree lighting program being moved to Vince Di Maggio Park. The event gained community interest and increased participation from residents and visitors alike. It featured Santa’s arrival, singing and the lighting of a mature 25ft. tree. This now popular event was organized and led by Councilman Dave McCall, his wife Robin, and Darlena Ridler.
After close to 40 public meetings and lengthy negotiations the Cypress Marina Heights plans were approved in March of 2003. The developer, the Chadmar Group, made many modifications and adjustments to the original concept at the request of the Marina Citizens. The project consists of 1,050 residences in all price ranges. It includes 20% affordable housing, 12% work force, market rate and a small number of large homes on ¼ acre lots. The developer initiated an Educational Foundation (501c3) with the donation of one market rate home, will include an 18 acre public community park at no cost to the City and assist with the grading of the high school site.
A committee of citizens, commissioners and council representatives selected Marina Community Partners (Shea Homes, Shea Properties and Centex Homes) and general contractor, Monterey Peninsula Engineering as the developers of University Villages. This 400-acre development consisting of retail commercial, mixed use and residential will become the primary economic recovery of the former Fort Ord and is the largest coastal development project in California. The City has already begun attracting new businesses and visitor serving amenities.
The Marina Skate Park, dubbed the best in Central California, by Skater’s Magazine, opened in 2004. The Park now draws skate borders and in-line skaters from around the peninsula. Additionally, Imjin Parkway was completed from Hwy 1 to Reservation Road. The City also saw the completion of another new lodging facility and gas station. Built as a Day’s Inn, the motel is now independent doing business as the Heritage Inn. In the same year the expansion of City offices occurred with the opening of the remodeled City of Marina Community Development Department building at 209 Cypress Street. Annual events such as the Marina Air Faire continued in October at the Marina Municipal Airport with its recent runway reclamation of 500 feet, with improved programming and participation. Marina’s signature event, the International Festival of the Winds was again held at Marina’s Gloria Jean Tate Park over Mother’s Day weekend.
While continuing numerous popular social and recreational events, 2005 was the year that The “Filipino Festival” relocated and moved to Marina as their new venue and home.
As we close in on 2005, it has been by far the most revealing year for the City of Marina in regards to the direction the City has now taken. The many changes in the City of Marina might best be conveyed by second term Mayor Ila Mettee- McCutchon, (Army Colonel Retired) and City Council members when they implemented a vision and identity for the City of Marina. Both the Council and City Manger encouraged the City staff to transition from “why not” to a “how to” posture. On June 28, 2005 the Marina City Council approved a two-year budget plan that kept basic services in place while eliminating several management positions in a reorganization process. Five new positions however will be added during the process. The new positions will include a Community Development Director, Recreation and Cultural Services Director, Personnel/Risk Manager, Engineering Service Manager and a Planning Manager. City Hall also modified hours this year to enable staff to meet deadlines as well as to provide the level of customer service Marina citizens expect and deserve.
The Crescent Avenue improvements (new sidewalks, striping, parallel parking) was completed, as was the City’s Housing Element Update assuring the community of affordable housing (20%) for all new major projects.
Plans were approved for our new Library with donations coming in from the Community and Harden Foundations. An anonymous donor provided seed money of $25,000 for the property and $25,000 for the children’s library. Former Marina Mayor and 4th District Supervisor Edith Johnson provided $10,000 seed money for the Library furniture in addition to other regular contributors. Other community members and organizations have also provided funds through the sale of bricks and designated plaques. Expected date of ground breaking is scheduled for mid May of 2006.
In 2005 Marina Homeowners saw a noticeable increase in real estate values. The Ramada Inn Limited was completed adding to the skyline of Reservation Road. The Council approved a major Capital Improvement Program that includes additional and upgraded City facilities, road improvements and public parks. It also was the year that the mixed-use project of University Villages was adopted. Marina at Monterey Bay is now capturing their fair share of publicity with regular media coverage and a new Chamber of Commerce City map. Council provided direction for a quarterly four color City Hall Newsletter that is used as an educational tool for the community as well as to various agencies and inquiries. The Marina Chamber of Commerce, through strong and increased participation and a new Executive Director provided creative and valued programs. The Chamber also served as the umbrella for the Marina Hospitality Association that hosted the first “International Flavors of Marina”, a most successful event. This is also the year that the City of Marina’s Strategic Development Center (SDC) opened its doors on Reservation Road housing the Project Managers for all the seven major City development projects. The projects include, University Villages, Marina Heights, Marina Station, Cypress Knolls, Marian Golf Resort, Marina Industrial Park and Downtown Vitalization. This is also the year that an experienced shopping center developer is the new buyer on the former Kmart site. Expectations for the Marina Landing Shopping Center have improved greatly with the October 24, 2005 close of escrow and plans to upgrade the abandoned site immediately providing an attractive appearance for 2005 and retail tenants for 2006.
Good things are happening in our young City and people are taking note and showing interest. Marina has become a destination of its own. This anniversary year is the first time a sitting Governor has made a visit to this former agricultural community. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a town hall meeting at Monterey Peninsula Engineering in Marina as part of his plan to push state reforms. It would seem that the Governor is aware as are others that Marina is a City on the rise and a City who’s voice makes a difference!
A WORK IN PROGRESS
To read about your city's history prior to 2000 go to the city web site. Click on ABOUT US and then click HISTORY