Fairgrounds CEO Fennell responds to project criticism
Tim Fennell has had enough.
After reading several passionate editorials in local newspapers, the CEO of the Del Mar Fairgrounds is rebutting what he calls untrue scare tactics about its proposed expansion.
In a document released to The Del Mar Times, Fennell outlines seven “Myth Busters” to counter what he said is inaccurate information being tossed around in the public sphere.
“It’s the Chicken Little thing,” he said. “The acorn hit him on the head and all of a sudden the world was coming to an end. But the difference between Chicken Little and, I think, some of these articles is Chicken Little didn’t know any better. These people do, but they’re creating the Chicken Little atmosphere where the world is coming to an end.”
Fennell said he finds fault with assertions that the project, which calls for three new exhibit halls and a hotel and fitness complex, will damage the nearby environment, be 1 million square feet larger than what currently exists, and will compete with local businesses.
“I don’t mind anybody taking exception to our master plan, but if you’re going to write a story, be accurate about it, tell the truth. I’m not sure everybody out there is doing that,” he said.
In his list of “Myth Busters,” he writes that the project only results in a net increase of 312,000 square feet of buildings, will not impose on the nearby lagoon, does not call for construction of a new freeway ramp and, citing a study funded by the Del Mar Village Walk Association, will not negatively impact local businesses. He also said a parking structure on the east lot would only be built if there is a sufficient need.
But Bud Emerson, a Del Mar resident who has contributed columns to The Del Mar Times, said he feels patronized by Fennell’s comments.
“I’ve read the whole damn thing,” he said of the project’s 4,400-page draft environmental impact report. “The stuff I’ve written about is taken directly from the EIR — I’ve made up nothing. The only part not in the EIR is the part about government accountability.”
Emerson is part of Del Mar’s EIR advisory committee, made up of what he considers top-notch lawyers, scientists and environmentalists.
“We’re not just sitting on the front porch saying, ‘Oh, I don’t like the color of your car,’ we are doing very serious analysis,” he said.
The Fairgrounds recently extended the public comment period for its EIR to Feb. 8. Citizens have until then to submit their concerns in writing. Law requires the agricultural board to respond adequately before they can take further steps.
When asked why he chose not to release his “Myth Busters” publicly at Tuesday’s board meeting, Fennell said: “Rather than feeding the fire to a degree it’s probably better to let people just make their comments. There’s a process to do it; let them do it.”
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