The issue of what to do with the old Lucky site in downtown Livermore has unfortunately devolved into a war of words and personal attacks. In that environment it is likely that the ultimate goal of the "best thing we can do for Livermore" gets distorted and will eventually lose out to a less satisfactory design in the minds of many residents.
We should compare and contrast the merits and deficiencies of each of the plans laid side by side. We truly need to get the personalities and acrimony out of the discussion, and base the final decision solely on the merits of each design.
I have announced that I support the Central Park Plan, but I am not averse to reasonable discussion of other ideas. For example, I had a conversation regarding the location of the two residential buildings roughly in the south-west quadrant of the plan area, behind the First Street Ale House. It was suggested that residents would likely not be particularly enthusiastic looking out a window and seeing patrons of the Ale House, and I understand that the opposite view is not seen favorably either. That consideration is reasonable, so what is a sensible way to address a possible modification? One obvious way would be to relocate and reorient the residence structures to the west by exchanging it with the parking structure slated for the south-west corner of the site. That move would place the entries to the residences on South L Street facing the residences planned for the other side of the street suggesting a level of planning consistency. It would also remove the buildings from being behind the planned parking lot thus improving visual security for the residents. This move would resolve both issues quite neatly.
I should like to explain the major reasons why I support the Central Park Plan. The first consideration in my support is that the hotel's design and location should be an unmistakable expression of the character of historic Livermore. We have begun that portion by placing the Stockmen's Park in a prominent location and it flows smoothly into the proposed Central Park. The design and placement of the hotel should clearly announce and unmistakably reflect the character of Livermore; it's a western town, it is becoming well known for its vineyards and its wine making; it is also known for the ranching that occurs everywhere around the periphery of the town, for the "World's Fastest Rodeo," and it is the home of a large world-renowned research laboratory. Now, that is a lot of character to reflect in our plan and it imposes some serious demands on the design process — since it will be permanent, it should be the best we can devise.
The location of the hotel has regrettably been a source of bitter dispute. What we should want is a structure that leaves a significant positive impression on its patrons for many reasons. It should be attractive, reflect Livermore's western rail, cattle ranching and viticulture heritage; provide amenities reflecting "welcoming know how," and leave an indelible impression that "this is a place I would love to come back to and I would unreservedly recommend to my friends." Again, this is a tall order.
Part of the recollection does not just lie with the building and attractive rooms, and its amenities like restaurants, exercise spaces, a taproom, and so on. A major part of creating a nice impression is the environment in which the hotel resides. The Central Park Plan provides immediate access to a pleasing view of grass, trees, shrubbery and flowers, suggesting a lovely sense of coolness that garden greenery always implies. The design is also an immediate invitation to hotel guests to stroll out into the park, and would likely become the preferred route to the retail establishments on the streets surrounding the central block and beyond. Unquestionably, this is far more inviting than stepping out to a noisy busy street or to a parking lot to be greeted by a big flat brick wall.