Update at 3 p.m.: The Park Foundation is calling last nights Sonora Union High School District Board of Trustees vote to rescind the sale a “missed opportunity” that once again puts the school district in the red. Below is the entire written response from the foundations president:
“Last night’s vote by the Sonora Union High School District Board of Trustees will go down in Tuolumne County’s history books as a missed opportunity and a tremendous loss for the youth and families in our community.
Nullifying the purchase and sale agreement will put the District in the red, which is in sharp contrast to the huge financial and in-kind gain they would have obtained through the sale to The Park Foundation.
The District was about to receive one million dollars in cash and at least another one million dollars for in-kind improvements. Such gain would seem to far outweigh the legal expenses the District’s board claimed to be concerned about, making last night’s vote incomprehensible.
For the last 30-plus years the Wards Ferry Property has been under-developed. The rescission of the sale will only stagnate Sonora High School’s future Ag programs.
The Park Foundation’s mission has been truly unprecedented, which is to build a public park for our youth, families and community to enjoy – a nonprofit project without incurring tax dollars. The Park Foundation board is extremely thankful to all its donors and supporters over the last three years who believe in our mission and dedication to enrich our community.
The Park Foundation board will convene in due course and discuss the next steps.”
Dr. Ron Jacobs
The Park Foundation
Original post at 10:30 a.m.: Sonora, CA — Sonora High School’s planned sale of 112 acres of the Wildcat Ranch to the Park Foundation for $1-million was rescinded, with a 3-1 vote.
The action was taken after the board broke into closed session last night to discuss the ongoing legal matter. We reported earlier that the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau sued the district over alleged Brown Act violations related to the sale.
Asked about what comes next in the process, Sonora High Superintendent, Dr. Mark Miller, tells Clarke Broadcasting, “Most of the discussions over the last couple of months have been done through our attorneys because at this point it has become a fairly complex legal process involving a fairly substantial sale of property. So we will let our attorney, and the Park Foundation’s attorney, and the Farm Bureau’s attorney, all have that discussion, and figure out what the proper way to proceed from here is.”
It is unclear what will happen long-term with the Wildcat Ranch. Miller says, “For now, it will sit. I think for a while, anyway, it will look exactly like it does now, until we get everything sorted out.”
Asked about the legal expenses to this point, Miller notes, “For the legal fight, we are probably at about 70,000-plus dollars. That doesn’t include the money that we spent before we got into the legal issues, working to get the land publicly posted, everyone notified, and all of the legal requirements for the district to surplus a piece of property.”
We reached out to the Park Foundation, but the organization’s President Ron Jacobs was not immediately available for comment.
The Wildcat Ranch has been a contentious issue at board meetings over the past few months, with many in the agriculture community upset that the property was going to be sold, and at the same time others voicing support for the idea of creating a new community park.
Voting to rescind the sale were board members Erik Andal, Kim Norton and Nancy Scott, board President Jim Riggs was opposed and Jeanie Smith was absent.