Park on the Ridge up for vote |

Park on the Ridge up for vote

The supporters of a proposed new park on the San Juan Ridge are banking on community pride trumping the slumping economy.

Residents of North San Juan and the Ridge are being asked to approve a new, locally governed park and recreation district and develop the 11.5-acre Oak Tree Road ball field property as a community park.

“The property is so beautiful, it would be so sad if the community doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity,” said Pietro “Pete” Milano, the chairman of the Oak Tree Community Park and Recreation Formation Committee.

Milano is one of four candidates for three four-year seats on the proposed district’s board of directors; two more candidates are running for a pair of two-year positions.

Funding the park will cost “just 50 cents a week,” Milano said. “It’s for everybody. It will be a gem; it will be something that will stand out and serve all the people, (something) that we’ll all be proud of.”

The proposed park formerly was the lower campus of Oak Tree School, which was closed in 2000 due to declining enrollment.

In 2008, the school board declared the lower campus parcel to be surplus property. In 2009, the county used a $500,000 grant to buy the 11.5-acre field and pond property below the school, a grant that only could be used to acquire parkland.

Measure A will determine the park and recreation district boundaries, which will be identical to the boundaries of the North San Juan Fire District – between the middle and south forks of the Yuba River and from Malakoff Diggins State Park to French Corral.

Voters also will be asked to approve Measure B, which appoints a local governing board of five directors and levies a special tax to fund the new district.

The parcel fee – set at $27 per improved parcel and $14 per unimproved parcel – would go to maintain and improve the park, including the ballfield. Proposed amenities could include picnic and barbecue areas and a community garden.

Two-thirds voter approval is required. If all measures pass, ownership of the land and buildings will be transferred to the new district.

“There are people who are concerned it (costs) too much, or that we could increase the assessment if we choose, which is not true,” said Carole Chadima, a park committee member who is running for one of the four-year seats on the board. “This is a good thing for the community, It’s something we need and that will benefit us all, not just kids but adults as well.”

Some of the proposed uses for the park include the installation of a disc golf course and possible office space for organization such as 4-H, Chadima said.

“We could really get some things moving up here,” she added.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail or call (530) 477-4229.

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