No Great Wolf Lodge in the Hecker Pass Corridor

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Mayor Velasco and Gilroy City Council Members,

As a voter I am in favor of Great Wolf Lodge coming into our community, just not at its currently proposed location adjacent to Gilroy Gardens in the Hecker Pass Corridor. 

The reasons are as follows:

1. Value for Local Residents: The Great Wolf Lodge representative during the most recent City Council Study Session, stated they do not have a day pass model as Gilroy Gardens currently has. In order to use this new water park on Gilroy City land, Gilroy residents must purchase a room at their resort. The rates in Garden Grove, CA for a family of four is $399 for a standard room to $749 for a premium room per night. These rates are not consistent with the average Gilroy resident’s budget. This facility would not be used by a majority of Gilroy City residents and the majority of the guests would come from out of town. By Great Wolf Lodge locating outside of the Gilroy Gardens Hecker Pass corridor area the City could protect the peace and beauty of the area, while not putting undue pressure on the roads, residents and wildlife.

2. Economic Benefit for Local Business: The Great Wolf Lodge representative stated that it was an all-encompassing resort, meaning that all restaurants, bowling alleys, arcade rooms and other facilities are all self-contained within the resort itself. There would be little reason for guests of the resort to leave and make their way into downtown Gilroy or other locations. As such, it would be best to place this resort closer to the 101 freeway and save the Hecker Pass Corridor we all enjoy today from excessive traffic, noise, light and views of very large structures that distract from its natural beauty. 

3. Financing: The recent financial situation of the City of Gilroy and Gilroy Gardens has not been stellar. Great Wolf Lodge, in nearly all cases, requires the City to put in a large amount of financing, in the $15-65 Million Dollar range to have skin in the game. The City of Gilroy currently has a large unfunded liability for the Cities police, fire and employees retirement plans that would make it unwise to issue additional bonds to support this project. There are many risks for the City for this project, including extra demands it will place on City Police, Fire, City Maintenance and administration to support this project.  If the resort is not as successful as their, or your, optimistic business plans call for there is even potential for a bond default. By  floating an bond for this project you will be taxing the great majority of local residents through additional property taxes and/or sales taxes on those who can least afford this to use and enjoy this facility, while subsidizing vacations for only the majority of non-residents who can afford to stay and play at the resort. 

4. Location and Scale: The Hecker Pass Specific Plan that was adopted in 2004 by the City envisioned its intent to protect this fragile ecosystem for its Beauty and Ecosystem. It allowed for Agritourism Business of Bed & Breakfasts of not more than 12 rooms and 2 stories tall.  A 4-6 story hotel with 500-700 rooms with an indoor water park in excess of four football fields under its roof with a peak height of 85-90 feet is most definitely not what was envisioned in the Plan. The size and scale of such a large structure is outside the plans intent, and would ruin the vistas for thousands of residents both day and night. 

5. Traffic: The Great Wolf Lodge documents stated that it expects to bring one-half million visitors to the resort. The Hecker Pass corridor cannot support bringing several hundred thousand additional vehicles up and down the Hecker Pass corridor that is already littered with pot holes without the resort. First Street is also not capable of supporting these additional vehicles as indicated by the emergency funding that was required to cover most, but not all, of the potholes recently. Widening Hecker Pass will destroy heritage trees, wildlife and habitat environments that keep it the beautiful place that we should preserve and protect.

6. Water Usage: A continual waste of water to run both a water park and be used by guests in the 500-700 room hotel. In a recent Orange County Register article, the CEO of Great Wolf Lodge said he expected their new water park in Garden Grove to use over 565,000 gallons of water and lose over 11,000 gallons of water a DAY due to evaporation and dripping bathing suits. The water lost will be over 4 Million gallons of water, or in excess of six Olympic size swimming pools, annually. This does not even include the hotel and conference centers water use. This is excessive for a local area that depends on agriculture that has been under water restrictions in a drought for the past several years. Several large employers in agricultural based canning business were forced to move away from Gilroy in years past due to the lack of water resources in the City. 

7. Excess Noise: A large conference and resort hotel, such as the one proposed requires multiple large truck deliveries per day to keep it operational. These range from sanitation control, food and beverage distribution from such companies such as Sysco, Coca-Cola and others. These hotel deliveries usually occur in the early morning from 3-8am. These distributors are not local to Gilroy, and they will be driving large semi-trucks increasing the noise in an pass that echoes sound to nearby homes and apartments as the trucks move from 101 up into the Hecker Pass corridor. The pumping facilities for a water park are noisy and constant. Even if Great Wolf proposes to put all pumping and water recycle equipment underground the sound will be carried through the ground via vibration. This will disturb nearby geology, residents, wildlife including the Steelhead Trout, and other protected habitats in the Hecker Pass Area. The hotel and conference center also generates additional noise from hotel laundry facilities, transient guest’s vehicles and guests talking, screaming and yelling. This would change the peaceful serenity of the Hecker Pass Corridor which acts as an echo chamber with noise. 

8. Light Pollution: The excess light pollution that a large resort hotel makes is substantial. Right now, Gilroy Gardens is a part-time resort with limited hours. The light pollution coming from the park is minimal. With a year-round full-time resort such as Great Wolf Lodge, the lighting for the hotel, signage, outdoor park area, light coming through the colorful fiberglass tubes and such would be lit day and night and be seen throughout Gilroy by thousands of residents and disturb the views to Mount Madonna and the stars at nights we all share.

9. Alternate Locations: The Great Wolf Lodge representative stated that they do no build near freeways or outlets. This is simply not true. A Google Earth search shows otherwise. The Great Wolf locations in Scotrun, PA; Colorado Springs, CO, Centralia, WA, Kansas City, Williamsburg, VA, Fitchburg, MA, Concord, NC, Mason, OH and Garden Grove, CA are all next to Freeways, Outlets malls, automobile dealerships and even near a waste management facility. They built in areas that allowed the greatest access to the freeway corridors. Asking Great Wolf Lodge to be a good neighbor and do the same in Gilroy nearer to Highway 101 would be beneficial to them and our community interests.

The City made a wise investment when they purchased the land and assets of Gilroy Gardens to preserve and protect it for future generations of Gilroyans. In summary, the impacts outweigh the advantages at the Gilroy Gardens site. We should save it for uses more suited to our vision for the natural and fragile beauty of the Hecker Pass area.

Thank you for your time.

 



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