In May of 2002, Magna Entertainment Corporation, owner of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack, adjacent to Berkeley and Albany, proposed a development project totaling more than 1 million square feet, in place of the existing racetrack. In February of 2004, Magna withdrew its proposal after Albany residents and representatives of the Citizens for Eastshore State Park (CESP) opposed the development, which would have included a 300,000-square-foot event center and a 200,000-square-foot retail facility. In an effort that could pave the way for future construction on the Golden Gate Fields property, the company is backing a November ballot initiative that would change current gambling laws by allowing installation of slot machines wherever racetracks currently exist. According to CESP, this initiative, which is still in the signature-gathering phase, could translate into increased development on both sensitive coastal wetlands and landfill if Magna were to construct buildings to house newly legal slot machines. Contact the CESP at (510)461-4665 or visit www.eastshorepark.org. To voice your opinion on this issue, write to Albany Mayor John Ely at 1000 San Pablo Ave., Albany, CA 94706.
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