10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 28-april 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news It is the classic American beach snack shack, painted red, white and blue, and serving up all the treats anyone could want for a day at the beach. The Grill at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, “home of the PG Beach Burger” as its sign once stated, currently sits empty, awaiting a new operator to fill up soft serve ice cream cones and pass out corn dogs. The city issued a request for proposals on March 19 with hopes of the snack bar reopening in time for tourist season, beginning June 1. “The city is seeking an innovative and experienced business operator who can provide high-quality food, beverages and snacks to local residents and visitors at this iconic waterfront location,” the RFP states. The 300-square-foot snack bar benefits from foot traffic from the Recreation Trail, Lovers Point Beach and park, according to the city. Already 30 people or companies have expressed interest, says P.G. Finance Manager Lori Frati. The snack bar has been closed since the end of February, after the lease expired at the end of December with former operator Joe Cavallaro. The city is interested in awarding an initial fiveyear lease, with up to one five-year renewal at the city’s sole discretion, depending on how successful, clean, well-staffed and profitable it is for the city— rent is based on percentage of gross income, with a guaranteed amount paid to the city every month. There’s a mandatory pre-proposal meeting and site visit for prospective operators on Friday, April 5. The deadline for proposals is April 24, with interviews through May 5, and contract negotiations through May 13. The P.G. City Council is scheduled to consider awarding a contract on May 15. Snack Attack Pacific Grove awaits replies to its call to take over the Lovers Point concessions stand. By Pam Marino Construction is underway on a project widening Imjin Parkway through Marina, changing the routines for thousands of commuters that travel from and to Salinas. But drivers aren’t the only ones impacted. Hikers and equestrians who use Fort Ord trails near the Marina Equestrian Center and CSU Monterey Bay are finding access blocked. About a quarter-mile from MEC, barriers now prevent visitors from getting onto the main trails nearby. “I want my trails back,” says Doug Hatran, a partner-owner of Chaparral Ranch, the concessionaire that operates the MEC. (The rides they offer now go alongside fencing, rather than on a trail.) The reason the barriers are up is not temporary due to construction. It is an environmental mitigation to protect the native plant Monterey sand gilia. Widening Imjin means decimating some of the plant’s habitat. In order to get the green light for the project and offer meaningful protection of the plant, the City of Marina set aside land for gilia habitat. “You have to compensate for the loss of endangered species by protecting land elsewhere,” says Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado, who is also a botanist working on Fort Ord lands. The Measure X-funded project started in late February and will widen Imjin Parkway from two to four lanes, and includes the addition of four roundabouts, bike lanes and more. Hatran says protecting the plant is important and it aligns with Chaparral’s conservation goals, but he would prefer to see cable fencing through the mitigation area, keeping people and horses on trails while continuing to allow public access. There are two fenced-off areas— the one near the Marina Equestrian Center, and another near the CSUMB campus—cordoning off a total of 61.5 acres for habitat mitigation. Horseback riders come to Fort Ord National Monument from all over Monterey County, as well as from Watsonville, Gilroy and beyond. One of them is Aromas resident Robert Robe. Robe rides his Appaloosa, Nelli, and his wife rides Karl, a thoroughbred gelding, every Saturday. They both have ridden in the area for over 20 years, but since the barrier was installed their rides have been cut short since they can’t access other sides of the park. Since Chaparral Ranch took over management at the MEC about a year ago, the facilities have had a facelift since the former concessionaire, the Marina Equestrian Association, lost a bid to continue. There is no longer rusty or visibly broken fencing, for example. The association had been offering year-round boarding of horses, despite a prohibition on doing so. Members had to find other boarding facilities for their horses. It isn’t easy to find affordable boarding nearby. In early March, Pebble Beach Equestrian Center announced it will close permanently in June, putting further strain on boarding options. The Marina Equestrian Association is still in the mix, with plans to build a long-term boarding facility for horses on a three-acre, city-owned parcel near the Marina Equestrian Center, which would alleviate the boarding crunch. On March 19, the City of Marina and the association agreed to a memorandum of understanding for that project. But if it gets built, horses and their riders may not have easy access to Fort Ord trails. A popular trailhead for equestrians riding from the Marina Equestrian Center, above, has closed. It is a habitat mitigation measure for the Imjin Parkway widening project. Path Forward Widening Imjin Parkway is impacting plant habitat— and public access to beloved Fort Ord trails. By Celia Jiménez The Grill at Lovers Point has been closed for nearly a month after the former operator’s lease expired. Around 30 people or companies have expressed interest in taking the space over. “I want my trails back.” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss