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San Jose neighbors of proposed A's ballpark meet to air concerns
By John Woolfolk Mercury News Posted: 06/10/2009 09:54:00 PM PDT Updated: 06/11/2009 06:10:26 AM PDT

member Jodene Perrin, who represents the Delmas Park neighborhood across from the proposed ballpark. "But the excitement overcomes the fears. Our neighborhood has gone through so many problems with blight, we see it as an opportunity to get more help from the city." While the Diridon Station Area Good Neighbor Committee also will air concerns about plans to connect Bay Area Rapid Transit and high-speed rail to the Cahill Street train station regardless of what happens with baseball, the ballpark proposal with its short timeline for a decision is the most pressing concern. The ballpark still faces a major hurdle beyond San Jose's control — getting Major League Baseball to release the city from the San Francisco Giants' territorial clutches. But because of San Jose's publicvote requirement for stadiums receiving public aid, building neighborhood support and overcoming fears about traffic and noise are critical for San Jose to have any chance of landing the team. Vocal opposition from Fremont residents earlier this year doomed the A's two-year effort to build a stadium there. In the wake of Fremont's failure, San Jose, with its well-funded redevelopment agency, has emerged as the team's last, best option for staying in the Bay Area. Vying with Fremont for the A's, San Jose in 2007 approved a 14-acre site near Diridon Station for use as a ballpark. The city already owns half the properties and is in the process of acquiring the rest. But environmental studies must be updated to reflect plans to connect both BART and high-speed rail to the station and the fact that the stadium currently planned by A's owner Lew Wolff is smaller than the 45,000-seat capacity the environmental review had envisioned. High-speed rail could arrive

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A key step in San Jose's effort to become the Oakland A's new home got under way Wednesday night as neighboring residents, business owners, and transit and sports officials gathered for the first time to confront concerns about bringing a ballpark, BART and high-speed rail to the Diridon train station west of downtown. The 30-member committee convened by Mayor Chuck Reed is expected to meet at least a half-dozen times over the summer to hash out recommendations for dealing with the inevitable traffic, noise and parking issues from the proposed 32,000-seat ballpark. An Aug. 4 City Council vote on the project also would set a Nov. 3 ballot referendum, required for a stadium receiving public assistance. "It's kind of daunting in a way," said committee
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by 2016. The City Council last month enthusiastically approved a set of principles meant to guide any future negotiations with the team, such as a pledge that any stadium be privately built and actually make money for the city in tax revenue. The committee's 30 members include transit officials, neighborhood leaders, representatives from the group that runs the nearby HP Pavilion and nearby businesses such as Adobe Systems. Also on tap are town-hall meetings in all 10 council districts in September and October. Reed told the committee he spoke with Wolff earlier in the day and that the team owner was "still optimistic" about San Jose's prospects for working out the territorial issue. Reed said he hopes to have a decision from baseball authorities by the end of the summer to meet the city's deadline for putting a ballpark on the ballot. But he said he wants the city to be prepared if baseball gives the green light by working out concerns and showing support for the project. "I am confident we will work it out," Reed said. The committee led off with members airing their top two priorities or concerns. Not surprisingly, traffic and parking led the list, along with neighborhood integrity and new retail. Debbie Wade of the Gardner neighborhood was worried games will bring "people cruising through the neighborhood looking for parking, tailgate parties, leaving their beer cans." Xactly CEO Christopher Cabrera fretted over construction and jackhammer noise. But others like downtown resident Paul Higgins
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talked about the Diridon proposals as a chance to really put San Jose on the map. "We're still looked at as San Francisco's bratty little brother," Higgins said. Contact John Woolfolk at jwoolfolk@mercurynews. com or 408-975-9346.

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