A lot of emotion is tied up in the Morro Bay power plant smokestacks, and, just like seemingly everything these days, it has become very polarizing. On the one hand, there are those that have fond memories of the iconic skyline of the rock and the stacks, and on the other, those that see the stacks as a reminder of the industrialization of what is essentially a quaint little seaside town.
Before the power plant and stacks were built, the area currently occupied by them was inhabited by the U.S. Navy, with an amphibious training base built for World War II. Before the Navy, I would imagine the local population or the fishing industry used that area, but that is just speculation.
I remember, as a kid, camping at Morro Bay State Park in the 1960s, seeing the billowing black smoke from the stacks, before the plant converted to natural gas. There was always black soot on the cars parked in the fallout area of the smoke, and I understand that residents near the plant suffered etched paint on their cars, not to mention lung problems from breathing the soot.
Just like a lot of things in a person's life, the way it was or the way it is, regardless of the good or bad of it, is more comfortable than the prospect of change. I can just imagine that a certain segment of the local population opposed the building of the power plant and stacks, just like a certain segment of the local population opposes the removal of the stacks.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but we need to carefully weight all the parameters involved and make an informed decision regarding the stacks. If the city of Morro Bay chooses to keep the stacks in the face of an offer by the owners to remove them, then we consciously are burdening the current and future residents of Morro Bay with the upkeep and maintenance of the stacks, and the removal of them sometime in the future, because nothing lasts forever. If the city chooses to have the stacks removed, certainly an icon of the city will be lost, like the boat-shaped restaurant, but the cost and upkeep then will not be passed on to future generations.
I suggest that the value of the stacks to the city be somehow memorialized. Perhaps a park in the area of the stacks, with reflecting ponds in the location of the base of the stacks, and three bright spotlights shining up from the ponds, forming virtual stacks, and powered by some of energy that will be stored in the battery plant.
Those that will miss the stacks will appreciate a nod to the past, those wanting the stacks removed will appreciate the use of the land as a city park, and people in the future that want to know the history will have a place to go to see what was, and will appreciate what is today, a reminder of the past, and a multi-use park for the future.
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