Thursday, July 16, 1998
Twenty-five years ago, he was the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District''s first manager. As he prepares to retire, Gary Tate points to the district''s growth and takes obvious pride in what the district--and he--have accomplished. Although the park district has not yet announced his replacement, it is clear that the fiery proponent of open space preservation will be missed.
One of his top three achievements, according to Tate, is the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. Developing the trail required the participation of the cities in its path--Carmel, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Seaside and Sand City. Officials from all those cities agree it was a good idea. But "the park district can take credit for getting it done," says Jere Kersnar, Carmel''s city administrator. "The park district provides the impetus for regional cooperation."
Tate, however, attributes that success to a supportive board and community. "The board," he says, "and the district have always been out front. They''ve shown leadership and not been afraid to go out and do it once something has been decided."
While Tate calls the coastal trail "the most successful project I''ve ever been involved in," he also points with pride to the expansion of Garland Park "from 541 acres in 1975 to its current configuration of almost 4,500 acres." The other achievement high on his list is the district''s acquisition of land along the beach, including land dunes separate from the recreation trail, primarily in Sand City.
"He''s very creative in his approach to dealing with acquisition," says Tony Lobay, community development director for the city of Pacific Grove. "We''ve been very fortunate to have had someone of Gary Tate''s caliber as manager of the park district. He''ll be missed as a colleague by those in the planning field here."
Tate is looking forward to retiring, but doesn''t plan to vanish from the area he has helped build. On his immediate agenda, after a three-week transition of duties to his successor, is a list of improvement projects at his home with his wife of 28 years and at his church. In the fall, both his daughters will be attending the University of California, one at Davis and one in San Diego.
Tate himself is a University of California at Berkeley graduate, earning a degree in forestry with an emphasis on outdoor recreation. He worked for the East Bay Regional Park District for five years, where he also played a key role in developing recreation trails. "Then I had the great fortune to be hired here. I''ve had only two jobs in my career."
That second job has seen the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District grow from one employee to seven, and the budget from $600,000, after 1979 Prop. 13 budget cuts, to about $1.2 million. "We''ve been very successful in leveraging the property tax through grants, almost dollar for dollar for land acquisition."
Environmental projects continue to rate high on his list of priorities. As co-chair of the Hatton Canyon Coalition, "I plan," he says, "to see that a viable alternative be implemented to the destructive Hatton Canyon Freeway project being imposed on this community by Caltrans. I''m going to keep busy," adds Tate. "It''ll be exciting." cw