In response to a local community memberâ€™s desire to offer input to the Marketplace Study Group, County Supervisor Jerry Lenthall has scheduled a public meeting for January 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the supervisors chambers, 1055 Monterey Street in SLO.
The meeting offers people an opportunity to provide suggestions about what to do with the Dalidio farmland, 131 acres off Madonna Road and Highway 101 in SLO. Speakers will be given 10 minutes each and access to audio/visual equipment to present their ideas to a panel comprised of members of the study group and Supervisor Lenthall, and facilitated by Daniel Icofano.
According to study group member Mila Vujovich-La Barre, the decision to hold an open forum was made after â€œlocal mother and professional Cathy Babbâ€? attended one of the study group meetings hoping to offer her input. The committee agreed on the need for a more formalized plan to accommodate the needs of other concerned citizens.
People hoping to hear ideas from the study group will be disappointed â€” the panel will not be making presentations during this meeting. â€œWe want to offer this time up to the rest of the community,â€? says Deborah Cash, who also works for the SLO Downtown Association. â€œOur meetings are usually too full and too short to facilitate the ideas of outside members. I think this idea is good. Itâ€™s helpful for the committee to get other peoplesâ€™ ideas and information.â€?
However, Vujovich-La Barre says that only some members of the study group will be present at the public forum. â€œWeâ€™ve asked Supervisor Lenthall to have the meeting videotaped for those of us who wonâ€™t be there,â€? she notes.
The Marketplace Study Group was assembled by Supervisor Lenthall last fall, in an attempt to come to some agreement about the future of the Dalidio land. Both supporters and opponents of the proposed Marketplace shopping center were chosen to be members. The group met with criticism almost immediately, amid suggestions that its clandestine nature would shut out real public opinion. Following pressure from the community and the media, Lenthall announced that the meetings, six in all, would be made open to the public. The study group has met four times since then, with the next meeting planned just two days before the public forum.
Vujovich-La Barre says the meetings have been productive, helping everyone in the study group recognize the various impacts any kind of development of the Dalidio land would have on the city and county â€” including air and road traffic, environmental safety, and economic growth. She says suggestions for the property range from building a â€œdestination hotelâ€? to preserving the land for agricultural use to redesigning the proposed Marketplace shopping center to meet strict county criteria.
Both Vujovich-La Barre and Cash say the committee has been open-minded and respectful of the membersâ€™ different points of view. â€œWeâ€™ve had healthy discussions by all members,â€? says Vujovich-La Barre, who adds that sheâ€™s looking forward to hearing the publicâ€™s viewpoints. â€œBut I donâ€™t know if peoplesâ€™ personal opinions will be changed at the end of all of this. And ultimately, the decision is Mr. Dalidioâ€™s to make. After all of this, heâ€™ll have a lot of information to work with.â€?
If you want to make a public comment at the January 28 forum, contact Supervisor Lenthallâ€™s office at 781-5450 if youâ€™d like to reserve a specific time slot or need audio-visual equipment.