Two years ago, Betabel was a garbage dump, a wrecking yard filled with tons of junked cars and illegal drug activity. Two years from now, Betabel hopes to be an economic boon to a coronavirus wracked county, with its themed features providing much-needed tax income.
The virus has hit our community hard. San Benito County is looking at over a million dollars in lost sales tax, money the County can’t afford to lose. But that lost tax income is only part of the problem. With peak unemployment and a depressed economy, projects like the one at Betabel are going to be vital for our community’s recovery.
With a project this important to the County’s future, why would a small group of no-growth agitators try to stop us from building?
Betabel started as the dream of a young man, Errol McDowell who passed the property every week on his commute to UCSF for cancer treatment . With his love of roadside attractions, Errol proposed cleaning up this field of derelict buildings and wrecked automobiles and turning it into a classic tourist stop on Highway 101.
Tragically, at the age of eighteen Errol passed away, the victim of a cruel type of brain cancer called medulloblastoma. But before he died, his parents Victoria and Rider McDowell bought the land through their charitable trust. Errol got the chance to walk the ground where his dream project might finally be built.
The McDowells devoted their lives and their fortunes to a race against time, funding research into pediatric cancer in a desperate attempt to save Errol’s life. With their son taken from them, they redoubled their efforts to find a cure for pediatric cancer so that no other family would have to face the terrible struggle they went through.
Besides the economic value of the project, measured in the tax income the county would gain and the nearly 100 jobs it would create for San Benito County residents, the McDowells have pledged all potential profits from the project to funding pediatric cancer research, a cause to which they have already donated millions of dollars.
Again, we have to ask why PORC, a political organization dedicated to stopping all commercial projects in San Benito County, is so furiously opposed to this project? And why is their campaign against it so thoroughly dishonest?
Over $200,000 has been spent to clear the property of decades of waste and debris. The project would sit exactly on the site of the old junkyard. The floodplain would be respected and the fields would be returned to organic farming. The fruit and produce sold at a market on the site. A classic roadside restaurant would provide jobs, from entry-level to management. A Visitor Center would support local tourism, with free advertising for local businesses and tourist attractions.
This project is clearly a win-win for the community, for cancer research, for jobs, for taxes, and for environmental responsibility. It is a model development____ at the right moment to a troubled county trying to rebuild itself. We cannot allow a few people to hold back the recovery we need so much in the wake of this pandemic.
We ask for your support and encourage you to follow our progress as we fight to bring Errol’s dream to life.