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Today's L.A. Times features a story on Downey's aerospace history. Unfortunately, I found the article to be one-sided and a little unfair to the city's leadership.
First, click here to read the story.
Now I'm not the biggest fan of Tierra Luna, but the city tried really hard to get Tesla Motors, which would have utilized the property's existing buildings. When that deal fell through, Downey officials had to go to Plan B, which was Tierra Luna. The chances of getting that property developed without razing the buildings were slim to none.
The city also paid millions to build the Columbia Memorial Space Center and will pay a couple million more (if the HUD loan is approved) to house the space shuttle mock-up. This can't be understated. The city easily could have built a fixed monument honoring Downey's aerospace past but instead they built a learning center that requires an ongoing financial commitment. That's a big deal.
The article is incorrect in saying the space shuttle Endeavour didn't fly over Downey last year; it did, twice. I was there. It wasn't over the 5 Freeway, it was directly over Downey. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard had a huge role in getting this done. The article is also incorrect when it says the mock-up sat "under lock and key" that day. In fact, the mock-up was open for tours that days and continues to be open every Saturday.
The biggest issue I have with the Times article is that it gives the impression that Downey officials have done very little to honor its aerospace past. Now I'm not trying to be a cheerleader, but that's just not true. Downey's leadership is in the difficult position of trying to honor Downey's past while simultaneously building its future. And it doesn't help Downey's cause when false information is disseminated.
The city is in the process of trying to secure artifacts from NASA's closed facilities in Florida and it won't help Downey's chances when the perception is that the city doesn't care about its aerospace history.