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Dome, Wildcat Ranch Discussions On Trustees’ Agenda

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Sonora, CA – In the midst of a lengthy agenda, the Sonora Union High School District (SUHSD) trustees are revisiting two hot topics – the district-owned Dome and Wildcat Ranch properties.

About tonight’s meeting, Dr. Mark Miller shares, “Obviously, the ranch has been in the news a lot lately with the temporary restraining order that the court put in last week — and we are going to court on Friday to see if that continues or if it is lifted.”

As reported here, roughly two weeks ago, at the last court date involving the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau’s complaint over the district’s sale of a portion of the Wildcat Ranch property to the nonprofit Park Foundation, Judge Kevin Seibert invoked the order rather than granting an injunction to the plaintiffs. He also ordered the district to provide the court with several documents it claimed to have properly issued, proving it fulfilled legal noticing requirements regarding the pending sale.

During the public session, Miller says Wildcat Ranch discussion will be limited to some “next steps” and a possible update on what the district’s legal costs have been to this point in defending the ranch. During the meeting’s subsequent closed session, there will be further discussion over the actual case litigation among other topics.

As for the slated “next steps” update on the Dome property, Miller shares that at the trustees’ last meeting, people interested in trying to save it have requested the formation of a new 7-11 committee. If the trustees agree, the scope of the new group would likely look into surplussing more of the property around the Dome so that if the building were to be repurposed, parking issues could be mitigated.

A Possible Cassina Campus, Sports Field Sell Off? 

“Nobody wants to buy just the Dome because there is no ingress or egress, really, unless you come through Cassina [High], the alt ed campus,” he maintains. “Obviously, if you are going to do major construction with trucks and…workers, that is a huge issue – and there just are not enough parking places for anybody to repurpose the Dome and get it re-permitted with the city.”

Continuing, he shares, “I think the new committee is going to have to look at possibilities of not only surplussing the Dome but also the buildings behind it, now that Sonora Arts has moved out…possibly even the field, which we use for soccer and softball. Or even…Cassina itself along with the Dome…and then obviously part of the purchase would be relocating Cassina somewhere else.”

Given the size of that entire chunk of land, Miller thinks the value could be “fairly significant,” given the prominent, prime location above downtown Sonora; not to mention the retail and commercial business options that more parking would enable.

As for where the Cassina campus would relocate, he confides, “All sorts of options have been put out there. It does not need to be downtown…one idea floated, if we get the ranch situation sorted out, maybe put Cassina complex…and brand new facility out there. We still have 25 acres out there, which is more land that we have for all of Sonora High, and Cassina High only has 50 or 60 kids.”

He adds, “Then, the Cassina kids could take advantage of some of the agricultural [education] portion of that facility as far as gardening and other life skills go that stick with you forever.”

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the district’s alt ed site (251 S. Barretta St.) in Room 3.