continued Continues Willard, "Bruce Coons sent me a schematic on Friday and said the port was meeting on Tuesday. I said, 'We won't support it.' " Coons told him the heritage organization supported partial demolition of the headquarters. "Coons said, 'You guys better get on board or get left in the dust.' "
But, says Willard, "We won't support this Frankensteinian development." Indeed, Willard says that the port is threatening to demolish part of the headquarters without a city permit. That's a misdemeanor, he says. The port's board members are conspiring to commit a misdemeanor, and that's a felony, says Willard. The port says it hasn't decided if it needs a demolition permit.
Counters Coons, "We have stood with [the police] against 45 percent demolition," although, he allows, "we are willing to talk about some demolition. Sometimes you have to make compromises." The police "don't know how to negotiate." But maybe the cops can negotiate. On Tuesday, the port selected a design that will save almost all of the police headquarters.
At the Naval Training Center, Coons denies his role has been puny. He has opposed Donaldson on many things; for example, he wanted to save several of the 14 buildings. "We think plans for a shopping center are completely inappropriate, and Wayne is for them," says Coons. "McMillin has not lived up to his promises; he is dragging his feet." A spokesperson for McMillin denies the charge and says the company is following the city's plan.
The saving of ballpark-district buildings "has done wonders for historic preservation in town," Coons says, although others say a lawsuit won by May's group, Citizens Advocating Redevelopment Excellence, deserves more acclaim, because it actually prevented the Padres from mowing down everything in sight right after the 1998 vote on the project.
In his four years as the executive director, the budget for the heritage organization has gone from $4000 to $500,000, and membership has quadrupled, boasts Coons. "My wife and I built up this organization," he says. His critics "are used to screaming in front of bulldozers and losing a building."
But his critics are in it for love, not money.