PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (KION) The Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is weighing in on efforts to stop the sale of a building belonging to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Lighthouse Avenue after Central Coast Congressman Jimmy Panetta said he asked NOAA to help stop the sale.
Last month, Panetta shared a letter he wrote to the agency's administrator asking for help. He said the US General Services Administration is working to sell it, but residents have expressed their opposition and he claims that the GSA has recognized the California Coastal Commission's requirements for the property, but has not fully committed to preserving the environmental, historical and cultural values of the property.
On Wednesday, Panetta shared a letter he received from Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. In the letter, she says she is grateful for his efforts to advocate for appropriate reuse of the property.
Packard wrote that because it is constrained by the California Coastal Act, selling the building requires "unique attention" during the process, and the Pacific Grove Local Coastal Plan requires the site to be used for activities related to the coast, such as marine research, education and public recreation.
"Thank you for raising this important local issue so that federal decision makers will recognize the public benefit this building could continue to provide by allowing the opportunity for a visitor-serving enterprise to emerge, such as that proposed by the Center for Ocean Arts, Science and Technology (COAST) Project Team," she wrote. "I have known and worked with several local science, art and museum leaders involved in the COAST project and can attest that they have the vision, creativity and professional experience that would be needed to bring the project to life for the enjoyment of the local community and the millions of visitors to our coast."
Panetta said he will continue to ask NOAA's leadership to stop the planned sale of the building.
Read the full letter below.
Appreciate the @MontereyAq weighing in on the future of the @NOAA property in Pacific Grove. I will continue to call on NOAA leadership to reverse course on the planned sale of this building. We must preserve the environmental, historical, and cultural values of our community. pic.twitter.com/V3oVkw9Y7l— Rep. Jimmy Panetta (@RepJimmyPanetta) August 4, 2021