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March Base Agreement Includes Regional Park

August 23, 2003|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

After reaching a settlement, community and environmental activists agreed Friday to drop their lawsuit to block part of the former March Air Reserve Base from being transformed into a mammoth business park.

Along with reducing warehouse space and trying to curtail truck diesel fumes, the base's Joint Powers Authority agreed to build a regional park and other improvements.

"This really is a big victory for the community," said Penny Newman, whose Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice filed the suit this year along with the Community Alliance for Riverside's Economy and Environment. "While we didn't get the ultimate goal, which was no warehouses, we certainly got major improvements which make the facility 90% better than it was. We're just thrilled with it."

For nearly a decade, planners have been working on converting part of the base into a 1,300-acre business park. Once completed, the project is expected to create as many as 15,000 jobs, creating local options for residents who leave the county to work, and pump millions of dollars into the local economy, according to officials with the base authority.

The authority agreed to limit warehouse space to 187 acres; keep the facilities away from homes and schools; create a 48- to 60-acre regional park; set aside space for a police station and fire substation; restrict truck idling and traffic; and include an alternate fuel facility.

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